G R E A T   W O R K S   O F   E N G L I S H   L I T E R A T U R E

Engl. 151w / Kiely Hall 417 / Tuesday 6:30 – 9:20 pm / Code: 38264
Andrew Gorin / agorin[at]qc.cuny.edu / Office hours: T. 5 – 6 @ Klapper 350
Course blog: worksofenglishlit.wordpress.com 

Course Description. This course introduces students to a representative selection of the greatest works of poetry, prose and drama written by some of the most important figures in British literary history from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. We will proceed chronologically and our focus in each period will be organized around a consideration of the use and expansion of formal and thematic tradition: the modes in which authors inherit and transform the possibilities for creative expression available to writers in the English language. Students will cultivate a careful reader’s appreciation of one of the richest European traditions by coming to understand the ways in which the matter and the manner of literary works in a cultural and linguistic continuum depend upon and resonate with each other.

English 151w fulfills the Perspectives (PLAS) requirements in the area of College Option Literature and in European Traditions: Reading Literature. Students will become familiar with the disciplinary norms associated with literary reading. They will learn to pay close attention to language and be familiar with the reasons for the writer’s particular choice of words. They will learn how the writer uses the techniques and elements of literature and the particular resources of genre to create meaning. They will learn how texts differ from one another and how they interact with society and history.

Required Texts.

1. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, The Major Authors, (Ninth Edition) (Vol. One-Volume). ISBN: 9780393919639. $74.63 new or $45.25 to rent at Amazon.com and also available at the campus bookstore. Find it at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Anthology-English-Literature-Authors-One-Volume/dp/0393919633/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389582457&sr=8-1&keywords=9780393919639

2. The Selected Canterbury Tales, Dover Thrift Edition. ISBN: 9780486282411. $2.00 new at Amazon.com Also available at the campus bookstore.

3. King Lear, Norton Critical Edition. ISBN: 9780393926644. $15.36 new and various cheaper prices used at Amazon.com. Also available at the campus bookstore.

4. Frankenstein, Dover Thrift Edition. ISBN: 9780486282114. $2.25 new at Amazon.com. Also available at the campus bookstore.

5. Hard Times, Dover Thrift Edition. ISBN: 9780486419206. $3.50 new at Amazon.com. Also available at the campus bookstore.

C O U R S E   G O A L S

–        To acquire an introductory appreciation of the broad expanse of literary works and cultural traditions in English from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century
–        To become comfortable speaking critically and insightfully about literary writing
–        To gain familiarity with a variety of literary genres, forms, their conventions, and how these conventions resonate across time and space
–        To address the interrelation of literary texts and the social and historical contexts in which they are produced and to which they respond
–        To develop and apply a critical vocabulary for the analysis of works of literature
–        To engage productively with secondary texts, including scholarly writing on primary sources, and to use and correctly credit these sources in research and writing

E X P E C T A T I O N S  

Attendance and Participation are essential. This is a lecture/seminar-style course and you should be prepared to discuss the assigned reading at each class meeting. Failure to bring to class texts assigned for discussion may result in your being marked absent for that day. You should also take notes on reading and any important information delivered to you during class, as this may be tested at any time. You are entitled to one excused absence for health or personal reasons; each additional absence will lower your final grade significantly. You must email me about all absences. If you arrive late, you should inform me after class to receive partial credit so that you are not marked absent. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get notes and information about homework assignments from your peers. To do so you can email these volunteers: ­­



Late Work. It is very important that you submit all work on time. Late essays will loose half a letter grade for each day late. If you miss a class, I expect to receive assignments due on the same day via email. If extenuating circumstances prevent you from turning in an assignment on time, you may request an extension from me by email more than 24 hours in advance—not the day before the assignment is due.

Citation, Source Attribution, and Plagiarism. There’s nothing wrong with being influenced by and using other people’s ideas and words. In fact, that’s what you’re here for. There are, however basic rules to follow. Use quotation marks to indicate that someone else said it exactly this way first, and cite that source. If you put an idea into your own words (paraphrasing) give credit to the person and the text from which you got the idea. *Follow MLA guidelines and format. The OWL at Purdue University is a good online resource.  It explains the rules with examples.

Downloading or copying someone else’s work (a paper, a sentence, a paragraph) and passing it off as your own (by not signaling that you adapted it and acknowledging the author) is plagiarism. Penalties include a failing grade on the assignment, a failing grade for the course (no matter what your other grades may be) and, if repeated acts of plagiarism are reported to the English Department or the Student Affairs Office, expulsion from Queens College.


In-Class Writing And Quizzes. Throughout the semester, there will be a series of in-class writing assignments. Some of these you will hear about before hand and others will be pop quizzes. If you thoughtfully read the homework and pay attention and also take notes on class lectures, you will be fully prepared to do well on these assignments. They will be graded primarily for their content rather than for grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but the latter are important.

Essays. The first essay will concern the first major primary work we will be reading, Beowulf. Students will receive a list of  response questions and are asked to produce an interesting and argumentative paper of 3-6 pages. You are invited to choose your own topic if you like, as long as you get it approved before hand. It must have a strong, argumentative thesis, and must support that thesis through the close analysis of passages quoted from course texts.

The second essay will also be in the 3-6 page range, and you will be required to cite at least two scholarly sources outside of those assigned for the course. The assignment will concern texts read during the first half of the semester.

The final essay will be on a topic and text (or group of texts) of your choosing and should result in a paper of 68 pages, including bibliography. You will be required to consult and cite a minimum of four scholarly sources outside of those assigned as course readings. At least two of these must be printed books. Students are encouraged to make use of the links to academic databases, listed on the course blog under the heading “Research Resources,” in searching for scholarly articles. Jstor and Project Muse are good places to begin. The Queens College library is also an excellent resource. Wikipedia, blogs, websites with not clear author, Sparks Notes, and introductory print volumes (for example, The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Literature) are NOT acceptable sources. In addition to making a strong argument with a good thesis, the final paper should deal with the historical and social contexts that influenced the production of the text(s) discussed.

Essay Formatting. Formal essay assignments should be formatted as follows:

–        Proofread for mistakes and typos!!!
–        12 pt. Times New Roman font
–        Double-spaced
–        1 inch margins
–        Correct use of MLA in-text citations and bibliography
–        Your name, professor’s name, and the date, single-spaced at the top
–        Emailed to me as an attachment in Microsoft Word, unless otherwise indicated. 


–        Attendance, Preparation, and Participation                                       30%
–        In-Class Writing and Quizzes                                                                 20%
–        Essay #1                                                                                                         15%
Essay #2                                                                                                         15%
–        Essay #3                                                                                                         20% 

O F F I C E   H O U R S

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, or simply want to chat, please come to my office hours. You can also talk to me after class or email me to set up an appointment at agorin[at]qc.cuny.edu. My non-digital mailbox is located in the main office of the English Department.


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