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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Literature "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Shannon Russell
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 8:30-9:45 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above
OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 200-level literature classes are required to produce 4-5,000 words of critical writing. Presupposing no previous knowledge in particular of literature, the course deals in an intensive manner with a very limited selection of works in the three genres of fiction, drama, and poetry. Students learn the basic literary terms that they need to know to approach literary texts. They are required to do close readings of the assigned texts, use various critical approaches, and write several critical essays on specified readings.
Students will learn the basic literary terms that they need to know to approach a range of literary texts and the distinctions between literary genres. They are required to do close readings, to use various critical approaches, and to write several critical essays on specified readings. Students will also attend two library training sessions on Zotero and digital presentation skills, and will be expected to produce a visual presentation outlining a particular and assigned theoretical perspective on literature. They will make their presentation to the class for assessment by the professor and their peers.
Students will learn the basics of literary analysis and will demonstrate these abilities through written, oral, and visual assignments.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Norton Anthology Introduction to LiteratureVariousNortonxxx  

3 Essays of 1,250-1,500 words (5-6 pages) each. The first two essays are worth 10% and the final essay 15% of the final grade.Each essay should be 1,250-1,500 (5-6 pages), double-spaced and typed, using MLA citation style and format.35%
Take-home and in-class poetry, prose, and drama analysisThree Take-home and one In-class writing assignment involving detailed analysis of poetry, prose, and drama. The purpose of these exercises is to reach an understanding of literary terms and tropes, converntions, rhetorical modes, and narraivte, dramatic, and poetic devices. Students will be given a set of questions based on their reading and will be expected to spend no more than 2 hours answering these questions in short answer format20% (5% each)
Participation 10%
Final Exam 20%
Visual and oral presentation: 5% on visual presentation, 5% on oral presentation, and 5% on peer review of presentations viewedStudents will be instructed in a digital tool through which they will present research and information relevant to their assigned topic. Students will make a 10-15 minute oral presentation of their digital project and will be assessed on both the presentation itself and their oral delivery. They will also submit peer reviews of the presentations that they view.15%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the cour
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Attendance is mandatory. Students who miss more than three classes  -- whether absences are justifiable (religious holidays, illness, funeral attendance) or not -- will be required to produce an additional five-page essay assignment to be arranged with the instructor and due no later than the last week of classes, to avoid an overall reduction of their final grade for the class. Final grades are reduced by one grade level (an overall final grade of A- will change to B+, for example) once absences exceed three in a semester.  Should absences exceed six, students will be asked to withdraw from the class or will be required to do additional work beyond the extra essay assignment, to justify their participation in the course.  It is advisable to notify the professor by the beginning of the second week of classes, if you know you will be absent from class for religious or other reasons. Two late arrivals count as one absence.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Please see the Moodle for a more detailed syllabus including readings, discussion points, assignments, and supplementary material.

Password for access to the Moodle is:  


Tues. Sept. 4

Introduction to the course and its requirements

"The Elephant in the Village of the Blind"


Thurs. Sept. 6  Reading Fiction

Read the Chapter on Fiction. 

Read and come prepared to talk about the graphic novel excerpt "The Shabbat" from Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver.


Tues. Sept. 11 Plot DUE TODAY: Writing and reading assessment assignment 
Read the two sample writing responses to Raymond Carver's "Cathedral". Consider those responses and then write your own short response (a few short paragraphs) in which you consider whether or not you think the narrator has changed, and how you know this from the evidence of the text. We won't be discussing this in class, but please hand this assignment in to me at the beginning of class. I will consider this piece as a diagnostic exercise that will allow me to assess your writing and thinking abilities. It will not count as an assignment for your final grade.

Read the section on plot in your anthology and Guy de Maupassant's "The Jewelry". Using the questions in Sample Writing Reading Notes found on pages 47-49 outline your responses to this story, and then answer the questions about plot found on page 66 along with the questions you find at the end of the story.

Thurs. Sept 13 Character

Read the chapter on Character in your anthology and do the exercise on p. 127-28 on direct and indirect characters. Then read “Recitatif” by Tony Morrison and “Good People” by David Foster Wallace. Consider the questions about character you find on p. 130 in relation to both stories. Then choose one of these stories and consider whether the characters tend to be more flat or round, static or dynamic, highly individualized or nearly indistinguishable? Is indirect or direct characterization more important in the story? Why and how is the author’s treatment of character appropriate to the story?

Tues. Sept. 18 Setting First take-home assignment on elements of the short story due today (5%) 

Read the chapter on Setting in your anthology, including the stories "The Lady with the Dog" by Anton Chekhov, Amy Tan's "A Pair of Tickets," and Judith Ortiz Cofer's "Volar." Consider how setting works in each of these stories. In what story is setting most effective for placing the characters and why? Could the same story be told as effectively using a different setting or is setting integral to its meaning? Give evidence from the text to support your answers.

Thurs. Sept. 20 Symbol and Figurative Language 

Read Nathanial Hawthorne's "The Birth-Mark" and Edwidge Danticat's "A Wall of Fire Rising"

Friday (Make-up day for Nov. 1) Sept. 21 Zotero Training


Tues. Sept. 25 Theme 

Read Aesop's "The Two Crabs," Yasunari Kawabata's "The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket," and Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat."

Thurs. Sept. 27  
Franz Kafka's "The Hunger Artist" and Gabriel Garcia Marquez "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"


Tues. Oct. 2 FIRST ESSAY DUE (10%)
Henry James A Turn of the Screw 

Thurs. Oct. 4

Henry James A Turn of the Screw 

Available On-line. See Moodle for link.

Week 6 

Tues. Oct. 9 Henry James A Turn of the Screw ù

Mock Trial citing evidence – reliable and unreliable narratives

Thurs. Oct. 11 In-class assignment today (5%)

Week 7 DRAMA

Tues. Oct. 16

Read the chapter on Drama in your anthology and Susan Glaspell's Trifles. Formulate answers to the questions that follow the play.

Thurs. Oct. 18

Read Ibsen's A Doll House

Week 8 DRAMA

Tues. Oct. 23
Ibsen's A Doll House

Thurs. Oct. 25 Third take-home assignment on drama due today (5%)

Shakespeare Hamlet

Week 9 DRAMA Make-up day on Friday of this week

Tues. Oct. 30 

Shakespeare Hamlet

Thurs. Nov. 1 No class

Week 10 DRAMA and POETRY

Acting and interpretation of texts (presentation of a speech or scene in class from A Doll Houseor Hamlet)

Thurs. Nov. 8 

Read chapter on Poetry: Reading, Responding, Writing as well as the chapter on Speaker, Situation and Setting, including all poems.

Friday Nov. 9   Training session on Presentation formats and expectations

Week 11 POETRY

Tues. Nov. 13 Read the chapter on Theme and Tone and all poems in that section. 

Thurs. Nov. 15 Language: Word choice and order 

Week 12 POETRY

Tues. Nov. 20  Third take-home assignment on poetry due today (5%)

Read the chapter on Visual Imagery and Figures of Speech in your anthology and all poems in that section.

Thurs. Nov.  22 No Class


Tues. Nov. 27 Symbol THIRD ESSAY DUE TODAY (15%)

Read the chapter on Symbol in your anthology and all poems in that section. 

Powerpoint presentations begin with responses due in by audience the following class (15%)

Thursday Nov. 29  Presentations begin


Tues. Dec. 4  Presentations due today with responses due in by audience the following class

Thurs. Dec. 6 Peer reviews due today.