Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

1. Where and When

Mon, Wed, Fri 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM A407

See daily course outline.

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2. Instructor

Dennis G. Jerz (
403 St. Joseph, Box 461
Phone: 724-830-1909 (but I'd prefer that you e-mail)

Office Visits: I usually leave my door open. If you should happen to drop by when my door is closed, please come back later or send me an e-mail.

Office Hours: Tue 1pm; Wed 4pm; Thu 11am; and by appointment.

Occasionally I step out of my office briefly to run errands during my scheduled office hours. When I do, I usually leave a note on my door. If my light is still on, then I'm probably not far away.

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3. Course Description

From the Catalog:

Introduction to reading, research, grammar, and writing in the study of literature. Emphasis on literary forms, research tools, and the vocabulary of literary study. Practice in writing the literary essay. English majors take this course during their freshman or sophomore year.

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4. Course Objectives

At the end of this course, you should be able to

  1. Deeply and critically read complex literary and academic texts
  2. Use textual evidence to support your own original claims about issues raised in the readings, without dismissing or oversimplifying views which differ from yours
  3. Demonstrate the ability to engage intellectually with peers in both formal and informal environments
  4. Write a college-level research paper that appropriately uses primary and secondary sources (including basic literary theory)
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5. Course Requirements

The class format will be discussion with some lecture. Your job is not to write down and memorize everything I say in class (or what says online) and then pour it all out during the exam. Instead, you will be asked to present your own original thoughts, and back them up with specific evidence from the literary works and from scholarly studies of those works.

I will often send out bulk e-mails to the address on file for you in the J-Web system. If you check a different address more regularly, please use SHU's e-mail forwarding service so that you don't miss important updates.

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5.1 Attendance

Students are expected to attend every class. (See Seton Hill University Catalog, p. 28-29, “Class Attendance” and “Excused Absences”.)

A student’s final grade is lowered by the proportion of unexcused absences. Thus, a student with a final grade of B (75%) with a record of 10% unexcused absences would get a C+ (90% of 75% = 67.5%).

I am happy to excuse students who have legitimate reasons, but students who miss a class period for any reason are still responsible for the material covered during the absence. An excused absence does not automatically grant an extension for any work collected or assigned that day.

Because a large percentage of your course grade depends on your familiarity with assigned readings, falling behind or procrastinating can lead to big trouble.

If you are absent from class without an excuse approved by the dean of students, on a day when a major assignment is due -- perhaps because you stayed up all night working on a paper and are too tired to attend class -- the assignment will be counted an extra day late. (You might as well go to bed without finishing the paper, come to class so you don't fall farther behind, and then turn in the paper the next morning.)

5.1.1. Emergency Absences

Those who miss class due to an unplanned emergency should submit an “Absence Form,” with proper documentation, as soon as possible.
For each class that you miss, download the word processor version of my “Absence Form” (available at After you initiate this contact, we will start working out whether or what kind of assignments would be appropriate. (I ask that you resist the impulse to ask me to e-mail you a summary of what you missed. I welcome the chance to help you get caught up, but please consult the syllabus and a classmate's notes first, and then bring any specific questions to me.) For some classroom activities, such as listening to peer oral presentations, there may be no appropriate make-up assignment. (See 5.2 Participation.)

5.1.2. Scheduled Absences
Those who miss class due to a scheduled activity must plan to complete all make-up assignments before the missed class. This means that you must submit an acceptable “Absence Form” (see above) at least 3 class periods before the missed class.

If there is insufficient time for us to agree upon an acceptable suggestion for making up missed work, or if an approved make-up assignment is late or unsatisfactory, then I may record the absence as unexcused.

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5.2 Participation

Students are expected to contribute actively to a positive classroom environment, both in person and online. Students who dislike public speaking may wish to invest more effort in their online writing, and vice-versa.

Common sense and common courtesy dictates that absences, late arrivals and early departures, use of telephones or headphones, lack of preparation, and inattentiveness will impact your participation grade.

Those who participate above and beyond the call of duty will receive a bonus.

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5.3 Late Penalties

This term, I am experimenting with using J-Web to handle most assignment submissions and returns.

Due to strange quirks within J-Web, sometimes when you submit work, the system will record your work as "Inc" -- but that's simply because I haven't had the chance to check it yet. Other times, J-Web will record a 0% for your answers -- again that's because I haven't had the chance to evaluate it yet. This can be maddening, since your running total average will go down slightly (due to the 0%) until I have the chance to mark your assignments.

Please understand that I think of J-Web as a tool, not a judge. Nevertheless, just as students in generations past learned to carry spare quills, a pen knife, an extra inkhorn, and spare lamp wicks, there are certain common-sense strategies that will make your J-Web experiences less risky.

Sometimes J-Web will log you out in the middle of a session, and as a result you will lose work. This is annoying when you are working on multiple-choice questions, but can be seriously destructive if you've been crafting an essay that gets destroyed.

To avoid this problem, I suggest that when writing an essay for a J-Web question set, you should first download all the questions, draft your answers in your word processor, and upload your answers one after the other when you have finished writing them all.

Note: If you ever feel you want more rapid or more detailed feedback on an assignment, make an appointment with me during my office hours, and I will go over the work with you in detail, regardless of whether it was late or on time.

Getting Credit for Late Work
If your assignment does not get into J-Web by the deadline (usually an hour before class starts), I will record a zero for that assignment.

In order to remove that zero, and get partial credit for your late work, follow this two-step process.

  1. Upload a copy of your work into the J-Web slot I have reserved for late work. Include your name and the exercise name ("Smith Ex 7a" or "Smith Term Paper Draft").
  2. Send me an e-mail that tells me I should look in the late box for your work. Include a subject line with your last name, the course name, the assignment name, and the word "Late". Example:

    "Smith EL150 Ex 1-2 Late"
  3. (There's no need to make an extra trip to slip it under my office door. In fact, as penance for all the trees I've caused to be slain over the years, I'm seriously trying to reduce the number of pages that I handle this term. Unless the homework assignment specifically mentions a printout, you should assume that I don't want a hard copy.)

By default, late assignments automatically lose 20% if they are not submitted to J-Web on time.

By default, assignments earn a maximum of half credit when they are submitted later than midnight on the day they were due.

All Late Work

For all late work, contact me to tell me what I should find in the late drop box on J-Web -- otherwise I may never see it, and won't know that I should change the recorded zero. If you are asking that I waive the late penalty, upload a copy of your completed Absence Form into the J-Web late paper drop box, with a file name that follows this pattern: "Smith EL150 Ex 1-2 Absence Form".

Unless I grant you an extension in advance, all other assignments are penalized one letter grade for each day they are late (including Saturdays, but not counting Sundays or holidays when the university does not offer classes). (Students who have had me before should note, this is stricter than my previous policy.)

Special Cases

RRRR Items: These time-sensitive assignments (see the RRRR section of the FAQ page) earn no credit if they are late. (You should still complete any items you missed in order to get full credit for your class portfolio.)

Class Participation: The way to get credit for a missed in-class activity is to contribute substantially to the online discussion. Post thoughtful comments on the course website, your peers' websites, and/or your own. To make sure that I see and record credit for this alternative work, paste the URLs of your online contributions into a word processor file, and upload the file into the J-Web late paper box in order to make up a missed set of discussion prompts.

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5.4 Texts

In addition to the required texts listed below, readings also include some online articles. When we are scheduled to discuss an online text, bring a complete printout to class with you.


  • Edson, Wit 0571198775
  • Farrel & Koch, Sleeping on the Wing 0394743644
  • Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor 006000942X
  • Gibaldi & Franklin, MLA Handbook (6th ed) 0873529863
  • Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 1400032717
  • Miller, Resurrection Blues 0143035487 (scheduled to be published in February)
  • Stephenson, The Diamond Age 0553380966
  • Truss, Eats, Shoots and Leaves 1592400876

(You may check out a book from the library or download a version off the internet. You will be expected to bring some version of the text to class, but you don't necessarily need to purchase the following edition.)

    Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra 0140714528

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6. Assignments

This year I am experimenting with a points-based grading system. The whole course is based on 1200 points.

Thus, if a particular exercise is worth 40 points, and you get 30 on it, you got 75%, or a B.

  • Exercises (400 pts) -- Homework assignments, often broken up into segments for peer review and revision.
  • Quizzes (200 pts) -- Three scheduled quizzes (150 pts total), as well as informal pop quizzes (50 pts).
  • Participation (200 pts) -- Your active contributions to a positive learning environment.
  • Term Paper (250 pts) -- Completed in several stages, including a bibliography, a first draft, an oral presentation, and a final draft.
  • Final Exam (150 pts) -- Thursday, May 11, 08:00 -- 10:00.
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Exercises (400 points)

Time-sensitive homework assignments, designed to prepare you for upcoming work. Often broken up into segments for peer review and revision. Most of these exercises will involve uploading your work to J-Web, into specific slots that have a specific deadline. Please note that, after you have uploaded your work, J-Web lists all work as "Inc" (meaning "incomplete") until I have recorded a grade. That's a very poor design, but we have to live with it.

For late submissions, see section 5.3 of the syllabus.

Ex 1-1a: Diagnostic Essay (10 pts)
Ex 1-1b: Diagnostic Peer Review (5pts)
Ex 1-1c: Diagnostic Revision (20pts)

Ex 1-2a: Grammar and Usage (10pts)
Ex 1-2b: Quotation Marks (10pts)
Ex 1-2c: Sentence Syntax (10pts)

Ex 1-3a: Short Story Draft (10pts)
Ex 1-3b: Short Story Peer Review (5pts)
Ex 1-3c: Short Story Revision (20pts)

Ex 1-4a: Poetry Mechanics (10pts)
Ex 1-4b: Sonnet Analysis and Abuse (10pts)
Ex 1-4c: A Clever Blank-Verse Entry on Your Blog (10pts)

Ex 1-5a: Critical Essay Presubmission (15pts)
Ex 1-5b: Critical Essay Peer Review (5pts)

Ex 2-1a: Punctuation 1 (15pts)
Ex 2-1b: Punctuation 2 (15pts)
Ex 2-1c: Punctuation 3 (15pts)

Ex 2-2a: Critical Essay Expansion (10pts)
Ex 2-2b: Critical Essay Peer Review (10pts)
Ex 2-2c: Critical Essay Revision (20pts)

Ex 2-3a: Original Sonnet Draft (10pts)
Ex 2-3b: Original Sonnet Peer Review (5pts)
Ex 2-3c: Original Sonnet Revision (20pts)

Ex 2-4a: Entrepreneurial Activity (10pts)
Ex 2-4b: Entrepreneurial Activity Peer Review (10pts)
Ex 2-4c: Entrepreneurial Activity Revision (20pts)

Ex 3-1: Term Paper Peer Review (30pts)
Ex 3-2: Media Fasting Reflection (30pts)
Ex 3-3: Response to Wit (30pts)

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Quizzes (200 points)

Scheduled Quizzes (120 pts)

Grammar & Syntax (among other topics)
Antony & Cleopatra (among other topics)
Style & Usage (among other topics)

Pop Quizzes (80 pts)

On assigned readings and key course concepts.

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Participation (200 pts)

This component of your grade evaluates your level of engagement with the subject matter, including preparation, attentiveness, and active contributions to a positive learning environment, as well as other matters of academic honor and respectful behavior, as described in the Seton Hill student handbook.

The bulk of the participation grade will be attached to two portfolio assignments, which will ask you to collect and reflect on a selection of the work you have completed. (More details will be posted as the due dates approach.)

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Term Paper (250 pts)

A series of assignments, culminating in a 10-page essay that cites academic sources in order to support your own original argument about one or several of the texts and/or issues examined during the course.

Thesis/Bibliography (20 pts)
Presubmission Report (40 pts)
Rough Draft (40 pts)
Oral Presentation (50 pts) emphasizing changes made since rough draft
Final Draft (100 pts) with all changes highlighted and annotated

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