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COURSE NAME: "Foundations for Advanced Literary Studies"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 4:30 PM 5:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisites: EN 110 with a grade of C or higher

In this course students learn the fundamental skills for advanced undergraduate literary studies, including a consideration of what literature is, and what constitutes a literary text; the major genres in literary studies; the major historical periods of literature in English; the significant theoretical and critical approaches to literature; the mechanics and terms required for advanced reading of poetry, prose, and drama; and the research methods, sources, and conventions in literary studies. This course is intended for English majors and minors or any students interested in advanced literary studies. This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 200-level literature classes are required to produce 4,000-5,000 words of critical writing.


This course encourages students to become more rigorous and effective as readers, researchers, and writers. A writing-intensive course in close reading, working on texts from different periods, geographies, and genres, the course develops strategies for reading, analysing, and writing about literature, noticing formal features, historical contexts, and intertextual references. Students will also consider how to address the responses generated by texts and examine the theoretical frameworks through which the texts can be interpreted. Students will reflect on the changing ways of approaching and classifying literary studies, considering national literatures, comparative and transdisciplinary approaches, and global perspectives.  

Beginning with a consideration of what constitutes a literary text, the course specifically considers the three genres of fiction, poetry, and drama (reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and Carol Anne Duffy’s The World’s Wife), analysing each as an exemplar of its genre and learning the research methods and terms required for advanced critical writing. The course then considers the historical periods of literatures in English. Using the exemplary texts students study the theoretical and critical approaches with which they can develop their own interpretations.  Students will demonstrate their skills in critical analysis in a final scholarly essay, will also write weekly responses, take mid-term and final exams, and make a presentation related to their scholarly essay.   


Students will learn how to the articulate a clear thesis, develop a coherent interpretive argument, and support their interpretation with textual citation and scholarly research. 

On completing this course students will have the ability: 

  • to identify and discuss literary genres, their forms and functions, and specific language associated with the analysis of each. 

  • to conduct a close reading of literary and scholarly texts 

  • to place a text in a historical or theoretical framework 

  • to carry out effective research using different types of scholarly sources 

  • to develop a critical argument and produce well-documented papers 

  • to present critical findings orally 

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
An Introduction to Literary StudiesMario KlarerRoutledge9789415811903  Hard CopyAlmost Corner Bookshop 
Things Fall ApartChinua AchevePenguin9870141023380   Almost Corner Bookshop 
The World's WifeCarol Ann DuffyPicador9781509852666   Almost Corner Bookshop 
Angels in AmericaTony KushnerTheatre Communications Group9781559363846   Almost Corner Bookshop 

Response Essays (6 x 500 words = 3000 words) 15
Midterm Exam 20
Scholarly essay (2500-3000 words) 30
Final exam 20
Oral presentation 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 course.
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.

Students are required to attend all scheduled class meetings and to participate in all classroom activities. Students are allowed only two absences (no questions asked, no excuses needed). However, each additional absence beyond the two allowed will result in the reduction of the final grade for the course by 5%. Students with more than seven absences (including the two allowed) will fail the course. Please refer to the university catalog for the attendance and absence policy. 
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.





Class focus






Week 1


Introduction to the course and to advanced literary studies






Week 2


Introduction to the course and to advanced literary studies II


Klarer, Mario. Chapter 1: “What is literature? What is a text?”


Response Essay: What is literature? What is a text? (500 words)


Week 3


Major Genres in Textual Studies I: Drama. The literary / critical language for the analysis of Drama.



Klarer, Mario. Chapter 2: “Major Genres in Textual Studies.”

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America.




Week 4


Major Genres in Textual Studies I, Part 2: Drama



Kushner, Tony. Angels in America, continued.


Response Essay: Drama (500 words)


Week 5


Major Genres in Textual Studies II, Part 1: Fiction. The literary / critical language for the analysis of Fiction.


Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart.




Week 6


Major Genres in Textual Studies II, Part 2: Fiction


Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart, continued.


Response Essay: Fiction


Week 7


Major Genres in Textual Studies III, Part 1: Poetry. The literary / critical language for the analysis of Poetry.


Duffy, Carol Ann. World’s Wife.




Week 8


Major Genres in Textual Studies III, Part 2: Poetry


Duffy, Carol Ann. World’s Wife, continued.


Response Essay: Poetry (500 words). Midterm exam: The language of literary studies.


Week 9


Periods of English Literature


Klarer, Mario. Chapter 3: “Periods of English Literature”


Response Essay: Periods of English Literature (500 words)


Week 10


Theoretical Approaches to Literature I


Klarer, Mario. Chapter 4: “Theoretical Approaches to Literature”




Week 11


Theoretical Approaches to Literature II


Klarer, Mario. Chapter 4: “Theoretical Approaches to Literature,” continued.


Response Essay: Theoretical Approaches (500 words)


Week 12


Writing the Scholarly Paper I


Klarer, Mario. Chapter 5: “Where and How to Find Secondary Literature” and Chapter 6: “How to Write a Scholarly Paper”




Week 13


Writing the Scholarly Paper II


Klarer, Mario. Chapter 5: “Where and How to Find Secondary Literature” and Chapter 6: “How to Write a Scholarly Paper,” continued.


Presentations: Literature Review and Thesis Presentation for Scholarly Paper


Week 14


Workshopping the Scholarly Essay




Presentations: Literature Review and Thesis Presentation for Scholarly Paper


Week 15


Workshopping the Scholarly Essay