Intro to Literary Study (2005)

Course Syllabus

1. Where and When

Mon, Wed, Fri 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM A402

See daily course outline.

2. Instructor

Dennis G. Jerz (
403 St. Joseph, Box 461
Phone: 724-830-1909 (but I prefer to be contacted by 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: Mon 2-3, Tue 10-11, Wed 1-2; and by appointment.

Occasionally I step out of my office to run errands, so if you want to be sure to catch me, send me an e-mail in advance.

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.

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 your peers
  4. Write a college-level research paper that appropriately uses primary and secondary sources (including basic literary theory)

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.

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+ (3.3 out of 4) with a record of 10% unexcused absences would get a B- (90% of 3.3 = 2.97).

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 that day. 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, print out and complete an “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 please do not ask me to e-mail you a summary of what you missed. Find out before you contact me, by consulting the syllabus and a classmate.) 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.

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.

5.3 Late Penalties

Any work that is submitted on time and in the proper format receives a 1/3 letter grade bonus. (This grade is factored into the mark I put on the paper -- you won't see a "+1/3" on it.)

Work that is unstapled, crumpled, or otherwise not ready when I collect it forfeits the bonus. Further, if your paper isn't in the stack with all the others, I will put it at the bottom of my "to do" list. (This might mean that I don't comment on it in as much detail, or, if the assignment is a draft, you might not get it back in time to submit the revision.)

Note: If you 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 is not ready when I collect all the others, and thus doesn't make it into the stack, 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. Paste a copy of your work into an e-mail (please do not send an attachment) with your last name, the course name, the assignment name, and the word "Late" in the subject line. Example:

    "Smith EL150 Ex 1-2 Late"
  2. Write the word "Late" on a printout of your assignment, and hand it to me at the next class period (there's no need to make an extra trip to slip it under my office door).

If the e-mail submission of late work arrives in my box by 11:59:59 pm on the due date, it forfeits the bonus but receives no other penalty.

Exercises earn only a maximum of half credit (2.0 out of 4) when they are submitted later than midnight on the day they were due.

Agenda Items earn no class participation credit if they are late (however, you should still complete any agenda items you missed in order to get full credit for your class portfolio).

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.)

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.


Clarvoe, PICK UP AX 0881451037
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
McBride, The Color of Water 1573225789
Miller, Death of a Salesman 0140481346
Shakespeare, The Tempest 0451527127
Stephenson, The Diamond Age 0553380966
Truss, Eats, Shoots and Leaves 1592400876

6. Assignments

All assignments are marked on a standard four-point scale.

Thus, if a particular exercise is worth 8% of your final grade, and I mark a "3.5" on it, don't panic -- you got a 3.5 out of 4, not a 3.5 out of 8.

Exercises (30%) -- Homework assignments, usually about 2-3 pages.
Participation (25%) -- Blogged agenda items, class discussions, in-class activities.
Portfolios (20%) -- Reflective assessment of collected work, including drafts, independent inquiry, and additional blogging.
Term Paper (25%) -- Completed in several stages, including a bibliography, a first draft, an oral presentation, and a final draft.

These assignments are broken down in more detail on the projects page.