Syllabus for English 110: Composition, Literature and Critical Thinking

The Generation of Genre
ENGLISH 110 – 32162: Composition, Literature and Critical Thinking
College of San Mateo
Ronald B. Richardson

Objective: To experience poetry, fiction, and drama more richly, by exploring the generation of the modern genres of romance, mystery and science fiction.

Required Texts:
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Trans. Simon Armitage. New York: W. W. Norton, 2007.
Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Ed. Alison Booth. London: Longman, 2008.
Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. New York: Vintage Crime / Black Lizard, 1992.
Levin, Ira. Death Trap: A Thriller in Two Acts. New York: Dramatist’s Play Service, Inc., 1978.
Capek, Karel. R. U. R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). New York: Dover Publications, 2001.

Catalog Description: This course is designed to introduce students to the major imaginative
genres of poetry, drama, and fiction. Students will write eight to ten thousand words in
expository essays and other kinds of assignments employing methods of literary analysis and
demonstrating skill in critical thinking.

Student Learning Outcomes:  Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:

1: apply critical thinking and reading skills to literature, in order to analyze the author’s strategies

and purpose, which are often implicit.

2: write essays analyzing literary genres using sophisticated organization and a variety of sentence structures.

3: identify and analyze critical approaches to literature.

4: use standard MLA format.

Gaming System for Grading:
Rather than giving grades (which often feel like a punishment), I will be awarding points, much as in a scoring system of a game. Every score adds to a student’s total, so students should feel that they are constantly moving forward. Only a few things, such as unexcused absences and tardiness, not having the reading materials and using electronic devices for other purposes than contributing to the class, will result in penalties. Some extra credit activities will come up, but students should not rely on them for their final grade. They must complete all the core work and do well on all four papers (receiving at least 70% or higher) in order to pass.

As in gaming, higher numbers are more psychologically satisfying, so I be awarding points by the hundreds. One hundred points is equivalent to 1% of the final grade. 1,000 points is 10%, or one full grade level. 10,000 points is a perfect score for the course of 100%.

Grading: Point breakdown
Class participation 1000 points
Reading forum, research databases, exercises and quizzes 800 points
To be arranged requirement (25 points for each conference and tutorial) 200 points
1st Paper: Experiencing Poetry 2000 points
2nd Paper: The Changing Genre of Romance 2000 points
3rd Paper: Reading as a Detective 2000 points
4th Paper: Science Fiction as Revolt 2000 points
Reflection Paper (extra credit) 250 points

Translation of points to grades
9000 points or higher is an A
8000-8999 points is a B
7000-7999 is a C (Anything less than 7000 is not enough to pass.)
6000-6999 is a D
0-5999 is an F

Class Participation: 1000 points
Regular attendance and meaningful participation is essential. Each class missed without a valid excuse will result in 100 points deducted from the course total. Each late arrival will cost 25 points. Respect for others, regardless of race, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation and physical ability, is required.

Homework: All reading and writing assignments listed to the right of a class on the syllabus must be completed after that class and before the next. Students must bring an underlined and annotated copy of all readings in order to refer to the text during discussions. Those who do not bring a copy will lose 25 points for each reading. (Electronic copies are acceptable.)

Reading Forum, Databases, Wikis and Quizzes: 800 points

Reading Forum: Whenever we have a reading assignment,students must post a thoughtful, detailed question. Questions may be about an aspect of the reading that is confusing, unusual, thought-provoking or profound. Students should read other questions before adding their own to ensure they are not repeating. Questions that echo preexisting questions will not get scored. Students should then respond to at least two other students’ questions. Adding more to discussions will increase participation score.

Questions are due by 8am on the day we are going to discuss the text (to give me and your classmates time to read your questions) and comments are due by class time. Unfortunately, we may not always be able to discuss every question during class, but even an unanswered question will help students interact with the text, generate ideas, and practice writing.

At the beginning of the semester, questions and responses will be scored for completion. Later in the semester questions will get scored for detail and thoughtfulness. “Detail” implies setting up the question with a quote or summary from the text, and “thoughtful” involves critical thinking. Since this is part of the generative phase of writing — the phase when students are producing ideas — grammar, spelling and punctuation will not be graded, although students should make an effort to produce clean, understandable writing.

Databases and Wikis: At various points, students will be asked to contribute to research forums in order to share their findings. Also, we will create wikis to develop awareness of form and genre, audience and purpose, tone and register (level of formality).

Quizzes: We will have two surprise quizzes on readings at some point in the semester. However, if I suspect that students are not completing the reading assignments, I will add more frequent quizzes.

To Be Announced (TBA) Requirement: 200 points
To Be Announced hours are required activities designed to improve reading and writing skills: conferences with composition instructors and tutorials on grammar, organization and critical thinking. Students must have one conference and tutorial per essay, or else I will not read the essay. Getting appointments can be difficult, so plan ahead and make appointments early. TBA activities must be completed in the Writing Center (18-104). Be sure to log in and out of the SARS system every time you participate in one of the activities.

Major Writing Assignments: 8000 points
During the course of the semester, students will write three shorter essays, approximately 4-6 pages, and one longer essay, 6-8 pages. All final drafts must be turned as a hard copy in class along with drafts in a folder, along with the yellow sheet showing at least one conference and tutorial per paper. On each assignment, I will lay out the basic requirements. If the paper does not meet these requirements, I will return it to the student. If the paper meets basic requirements, I will read and score the essay. On each writing assignment, I will also offer suggestions for a superior essay, which will count as extra credit.

If you cannot make a deadline, students must contact me before the due date and make new arrangements.
To conserve paper, writings may be printed on both sides of a page or on recycled paper, even in final drafts. Since the purpose of writing is communication, all final versions of papers must be posted on the class Web Access site. If students do not post the paper on Web Access, I will not score the paper. You are strongly encouraged to read your classmates’ writing and doing so will add to your participation score.

Revisions: I am a very tough grader, awarding points only for college level writing demonstrating clarity, concision, grammatical accuracy, specificity, organization, carefully-staged argumentation, support and citation. With the first paper, I require a substantial revision and students may do one more optional revision. The second and third papers may both be revised twice, if time allows. Such revisions are due one week from the day I return the scored paper to the student. Correction of surface errors will result in a slightly better score. For significant improvement, students must thoroughly revise wording, organization, argumentation, and support. I encourage you to meet with me to discuss your revision plans. Good writing requires revision. Take advantage of this opportunity to improve your writing . . . and your score!

Electronic Devices: I encourage the use of electronic devices in the classroom for academic purposes. Students should look up unfamiliar words, add research to discussion and check facts. (If anyone catches the teacher giving an incorrect fact, the student will get 25 points extra credit.) However, if students use devices for other reasons (for instance, checking social networking sites), I will deduct 25 points from their class score. Three infractions will result in the loss of the privilege.

Plagiarism: The purpose of the class is to give you the skills you need to frame your own original ideas in effective prose, so plagiarism–copying someone else’s work without giving them credit–is not only stealing someone else’s hard work, but also cheating oneself out of the opportunity to gain the power of the word.

Disability Policy Statement: If you have a documented disability and need accommodations for this class,
please see me as soon as possible or contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) for assistance. The DRC is located in Bldg. 16 Room 150. (650) 574-6438; TTY (650) 574-6230

Date of Class



Unit I: Introduction to LiteratureWeek 1: IntroductionsJanuary 15th, Tuesday Introduction to the course Writing: Create a profile with picture on Web Access and introduce yourself on the class site under first week forum entitled “Introducing Yourself” and respond to other students’ posts (by 8am on Thursday).
January 17th, Thursday Getting to know each other: student quizIn-class essay: “What are the Benefits of Writing Well?” Research: Find at least ten well-written examples of new media: text messages, tweets, social network status updates, emails, and blog posts. Gather them together in a document and bring a hard copy to class. Post the best example on the Web Access research forum and add a comment explaining why you think it is good writing. Respond to at least two other students’ posts, agreeing or disagreeing with their assessment of literary quality.
Writing: Questionnaire
Week 2: What is Good Writing?January 22nd,
Many kinds of booksWhat is good writing?Prewriting techniques: brainstorm, cluster graph, outline Cluster graph: obstacles in your way to becoming a skillful writer (1 full page)
Brainstorm: ways to improve your writing (1 full page)
Outline: a strategy for becoming a better writer (at least 2 full pages)
January 24th,
The right wordUnderlining and annotating Reading: Underline and annotate “What is Literature?” by Terry Eagleton (on WebAccess)
(Post a thoughtful, detailed question on the reading and respond to at least two other students’ questions by 8am Thursday.)
Week 3: What is Literature?January 29th,
What is literature?: reading discussionForm and genreAudience and purposeTone and register

Visit to the Writing Center

Wikis on Form and Genre, Audience and Purpose, Tone and Register: Write or find an three examples (a paragraph to a page in length) that typify the form and genre, audience and purpose, tone and register you have selected and post under the appropriate heading, then alter at least two other students’ entries so they fit the category better.
January 31st,
Form and genre, audience and purpose, tone and registerPoetry: “These are a Few of My Favorite Poems”The  1st Paper: experiencing poetry Reading:  Underline and annotate “Experiencing Poetry” and “Sound and Sight” from The Norton Introduction to Literature
(Post a question on one of the readings and respond to at least two other students’ questions by 8am Tuesday.)
Week 4: Experiencing PoetryFebruary 5th,
The color of words: connotation“Experiencing Poetry”: reading discussion“Sound and Sight”: reading discussion Research: Choose five favorite poems or song lyrics and print them out. Post the best one on Web Access. Add an explanation of why you like the poem and why it is good poetry. Write a few lines on what you think the poem means, expresses, or does. Respond to at least two other posts. Bring in a hard copy of your poem or lyrics to share.
February 7th, Thursday Freewriting: experiencing your poem or lyricsSharing poetry and lyrics: reading and discussing some of the works students have selected Research and reading: find and read a chapter from a book in the library or an article on on the library databases about your poem or lyrics, the artist, the subject matter, or the form.
Week 5: FocusFebruary 12th, Tuesday Writing experiments for first paperThesis and topic sentencesQuotation sandwiches and MLA citations Writing: 1st paper. Bring in a hard copy or electronic copy.
February 14th,
Sentence Focus and Active Verbs Writing: Thoroughly revise first paper for sentence focus and active verbs. (Revision must be substantially improved over previous draft or I will not read it.) Underline changes. Bring in a hard copy along with previous draft in a folder. Post revised paper on Web Access in the writing forum and read your colleagues’ papers.
Unit II: The Romance of GenreWeek 6: The Genre of GenreFebruary 19th, Tuesday Connecting words and punctuationIntroduction to chivalric romance Reading: Underline and annotate “History and Genre” by Ralph Cohen (Don’t forget to post a question and responses by 8am Thursday.)
February 21st, Thursday Sentence boundariesThe genre of genre: reading discussion Reading: Underline and annotate Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, part 1 (question and responses)
Week 7: Arthurian RomanceFebruary 26th, Tuesday Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: reading discussion2nd Paper: “The Changing Genre of Romance” Reading: Underline and annotate Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, part 2 (question and responses)
February 28th,
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: reading discussion Writing: Rewrite first paper according to feedback. Bring in hard copy along with marked and scored first paper. Post revised paper as a comment to the previous version on the writing forum.
Week 8: Nouvelle RomanceMarch 5th, Tuesday Exquisite Corpse: writing activityThe elements of fiction Reading: Underline and annotate Don Quixote, chapters 1-10 (question and responses)
March 7th, Thursday Don Quixote: Reading Discussion Reading: Underline and annotate Wuthering Heights, pages 1-100 (question and responses)
Week 9: Gothic RomanceMarch 12th, Tuesday Gothic RomanceWuthering Heights: reading discussion Reading: Underline and annotate Wuthering Heights, pages 101-200 (question and responses)
March 14th, Thursday ParallelismWuthering Heights: reading discussion Reading: Underline and annotate Wuthering Heights, pages 201-298 (question and responses)
Week 10: Modern RomanceMarch 19th, Tuesday Wuthering Heights: reading discussion Reading: Underline and annotate three short stories of modern romance (question and responses)
March 21st, Thursday Modern romance: reading discussion Writing: 2nd Paper, The changing genre of romance. Bring in three copies for workshopping.
Unit III: The Mystery of GenreWeek 11: Early Detective StoriesMarch 26th,
Linking ParagraphsWorkshops: teacher-led, then student-student Writing: Thoroughly revise 2nd paper. Bring in hard copy along with previous drafts and prewriting materials. Post revised paper on Web Access and real your colleagues’ papers.
March 28th,
The development of detective fiction: “Three Princes of Serendip” and “Zadig” by Voltaire3rd paper: “Reading as a Detective” Reading: Underline and annotate “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe and “A Scandal in Bohemia” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (question and responses)
Extra credit readings: “The Murders of the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe and “The Speckled Band” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
April 1st – 7th Spring BreakNo classes! .
Week 12: Detective WorkApril 9th, Tuesday Detective fiction: reading discussion Reading: Underline and annotate The Maltese Falcon, chapters 1-8 (question and responses)
April 11th, Thursday The hardboiled detective: reading discussion Reading: Underline and annotate The Maltese Falcon, chapters 9-18 (question and responses)
Film: The Maltese Falcon
Week 13: Modern MysteryApril 16th, Tuesday The hardboiled detective: reading and viewing discussion Reading: Underline and annotate Death Trap (question and responses)
April 18th, Thursday Death Trap: reading discussion Writing: 3rd paper. Bring in three copies for workshopping.
Week 14: Proto Science FictionApril 23rd,
Workshops: teacher-led, then student-student Writing: Thoroughly revise 3rd paper according to feedback. Bring in hard copy along with drafts in a folder. Post revised paper on Web Access and read your colleagues’ papers.
April 25th, Thursday Proto science fiction Reading: Underline and annotate “The Golem” by Yudl Rosenberg and “The Sandman” by E.T.A. Hoffman (question and responses)
Week 15: The Invention of Science FictionApril 30th,
Early robots: reading discussion4th paper: Science Fiction as Revolt Reading: Underline and annotate selections from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (question and responses)
May 2nd, Thursday The first science fiction: reading discussion Reading: R.U.R.(Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Capek (question and responses)
Week 16: Modern Science FictionMay 7th, Tuesday The robot revolt: reading discussion Reading: Three science fiction short stories: pulp fiction “Evidence” by Isaac Asimov, “Second Variety” by Philip K. Dick, and “Nine Lives” by Ursula K. LeGuin
May 9th,
Writing experiments for final paperModern robots: reading discussion Writing: 1st complete draft of final paper. Bring in three copies for workshopping.
Email introduction, topic sentences and conclusion to Ron by 11am on Saturday, May 11th.
Week 17: Like Tears in RainMay 14th,
WorkshopsFilm: Bladerunner, part 1 Writing: Final draft due in class on Thursday, May 16th. Bing in hard copy along with previous drafts. Post on Web Access and read your colleagues’ papers.
May 16th, Thursday Film: Bladerunner, part 2 Word!

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