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English 1406 F0

Writing and Reading Literature


Course Description Text List Mark Distribution Weekly Outline Assignment Policies Assignments



Course Description

English 1406 is designed to engage you as a reader, a writer, and a speaker.  With these goals in mind, we'll look at a variety of texts from the past and the present.   We'll discuss poetry, plays, short stories, and novels, thinking about how and why certain forms emerged and changed while focussing on the way literature represents the human relationship with nature.

At times, we'll have group discussions about the literature that will culminate in group presentations.  These presentations will be informed by strategies of composition this course will help you develop.  In class, we'll cover the basics of composition from rhetoric to grammar.  Outside of class, students will use their developing critical vocabularies and composition skills to write essays about the literature we are reading.

The bulk of your mark will be determined by your performance on formal writing assignments. All students will write four short argumentative essays. At the end of the second term, each student will deliver an individual powerpoint presentation or create a podcast on an assigned reading. Students should pay special attention to the assignment policies listed below. 

Participation is mandatory and has been assigned a modest mark.  Please note that showing up for class is not the same as participating.  If you don't feel comfortable participating in normal classroom discussion, try to compensate when we do group work. You can also participate informally by sharing your ideas with me during my office hours.

Finally, students should feel free to bring their computers to every class. However, they will be expected to stay offline unless they are asked to connect for some reason. If you do not feel that you can resist the temptation to play on your computer while in class, you would be best to leave it at home because any sign that you are playing will result in severe deductions from your participation grade.

Students with disabilities that affect learning:
If you are a student with a documented disability who anticipates needing accommodations in this course, please inform me after you meet with Jill Davies or Kathy O'Rourke in Disability Access Services, in the Student Resource Centre, lower floor of the Old SUB (Old Student Union Building).

Their contact information is jill.davies@acadiau.ca 585-1127 or disability.access@acadiau.ca 585-1823.


Teaching Assistant:

  • Breanna Keeler
  • E-mail: 110532k@acadiau.ca
  • Office hours: Wednesdays 1:30-3:30 pm at BAC 427


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Text List

  • Adiga, The White Tiger (Free Press)
  • Bronte, Jane Eyre (Broadview)
  • Casson, A Writer's Handbook (Broadview)
  • Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Broadview)
  • Friel, Translations (Faber)
  • Gaunce, Broadview Anthology of Short Fiction (Broadview)
  • Malouf, Remembering Babylon
  • McCarthy, The Road (Vintage)
  • Shakespeare, The Tempest (Oxford)
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Mark Distribution

Essay 1 10%
Essay 2 10%
Essay 3 10%
Essay 4 20%

Presentation/Podcast (Term 2)

Participation Term 1 5%
Participation Term 2 5%
Final Exam 30%
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Weekly Outline

Term 1

Week 1
Sept. 8: Introduction
Week 2
Sept. 13: Essay formating and Writing Basics; A Writer's Handbook, Chapters 1-4

Sept. 15: The Sonnet; Sidney's Sonnet 1 "Loving in truth", Sonnet 7 "When Nature made her chief work, Stella's eyes", and Sonnet 71 "Who will in fairest book of nature know"

Week 3
Sept. 20: Shakespeare's Sonnets 18, 55, 60, 116, 130, 144

Sept. 22: Pastoral--Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love";  Parody--Ralegh's "The Nymph's Reply"; and Donne's "The Bait" and "The Flea"

Week 4
Sept. 27: Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," and "The Canonization," and Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress"

Sept. 29: Common Grammatical and Rhetorical Errors; A Writer's Handbook, Chapters 5-6

Week 5
Oct. 4: Shakespeare's The Tempest

Oct. 6: The Tempest

Week 6
Oct. 11: The Tempest ; Essay 1

Oct. 13: Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Part I.

Week 7

Oct. 18: Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Part I & II.

Oct. 20: Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Part II.

Week 8
Oct. 25: Blake's "The Lamb," "The Chimney Sweeper" (1789), "Holy Thursday" (1789), "The Tyger," "The Chimney Sweeper" (1794), "Holy Thursday" (1794); textual versions of the above poems can be found at Project Gutenberg

Oct. 27: Wordsworth's "Michael: A Pastoral Poem"

Week 9
Nov. 1: Bronte's Jane Eyre

Nov. 3: Jane Eyre

Week 10
Nov. 8: Jane Eyre

Nov. 10: Jane Eyre

Week 11
Nov. 15: Dramatic Monologue-- Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess" and "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister"

Nov. 17: Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" and Arnold's "Dover Beach"; Essay 2

Week 12

Nov. 22:  McCarthy's The Road

Nov. 24: The Road

Week 13

Nov. 29: The Road

Dec. 1: The Road



Term 2

Week 1
Jan. 10: Introduction to Second Term; Piercy's "Barbie Doll"

Jan. 12: Melville's "Bartleby, The Scrivener"

Week 2
Jan. 17: Chopin's "The Story of An Hour" and Perkins Gillman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

Jan. 19: Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Week 3
Jan. 24: Heart of Darkness

Jan. 26: Heart of Darkness

Week 4
Jan. 31: Friel's Translations

Feb. 2:  Translations

Week 5
Feb. 7: Translations; Essay 3 due date

Feb. 9: Introduction to PowerPoint/Podcast Assignment; Joyce's "The Dead"

Week 6
Feb. 14: Mansfield's "A Doll's House" and Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"

Feb. 16: Malouf's Remembering Babylon

Week 7
Feb. 20-24: Study Week
Week 8
Feb. 28:  Remembering Babylon

Mar. 1: Remembering Babylon

Week 9
Mar. 6: Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues"

Mar. 8: "Sonny's Blues"

Week 10
Mar. 13:  Carver's "Cathedral" and Atwood's "Death by Landscape"

Mar. 15:  Adiga's The White Tiger

Week 11
Mar. 20: The White Tiger

Mar. 22: The White Tiger; Essay 4 due date

Week 12

Mar. 27: PowerPoint Presentations/Podcasts:

  • O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
    • Alice Albarda
    • Sarah Atkinson
    • Brooke Barkhouse
    • Jillian Baxter
    • Alana Bolton
  • Moore's "You're Ugly, Too"
    • Brianne Brennan
    • Tesia Brown
    • Bradley Creelman
    • Erika de Winter

Mar. 29: PowerPoint Presentations/Podcasts:

  • Ford's "Under the Radar"
    • Olivia Dennis
    • Natalie deVillers
    • Nathan Doggett
    • Matt Finlay
    • Jamie Gillis
  • O'Brien's "The Things They Carried"
    • Max Gurr
    • Christopher Iannou
    • Meghan Kerr
    • Sarah Leopold
Week 13
April. 3: PowerPoint Presentations/Podcasts:
  • Munro's "Miles City, Montana"
    • Shannon MacKenzie
    • Megan MacMillan
    • Rebekah McNulty
    • Terria Moxey
    • Genevieve Peever
  • Mistry's "Swimming Lessons"
    • Kari Pettis
    • Katherine Stanislov
    • Ian Stewart
    • Connor Thompson
    • Matthew van Bommel

April 5: Review and Final Exam Discussion

Final Exam
To be announced


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Assignment Policies


Essay Policies


Students often find first year English very difficult and are often shocked by the low marks they initially receive.  For this reason, I have tried to spread the marks over a few relatively small assignments.  Rest assured that you have time to adjust to the demands of a university English course.  However, you must read all comments written on your papers if you wish to improve your average by year's end.   

Please note the following policies:

1. Late Penalties

My object is to alert you to significant problems in your arguments and your writing in the hopes that you will be able to make appropriate adjustments for future papers. I want the papers to come in on time so that I can get them back to you in a reasonable time and so that you can begin your progress on the rather steep learning curve characteristic of the literary studies at university.  For these reasons, your papers will receive a penalty of 2% per day for lateness, weekends and holidays included, unless you have been granted an extension or unless your essay is accompanied by a doctor's note. 

2. Extensions

One week (7 day) extensions will be available upon request for all essays, provided that I have received the formal request for an extension by email at least one day prior to the assigned due date. Essays that are granted extensions will be returned to students with marks, but without comments. I will, however, be available by appointment to discuss such essays.

3. Assignment completion

All course assignments must be submitted by the last scheduled class. Please note the follwing statement from the University Calendar: "No credit is given for a course unless all requirements for it have been completed." Failure to submit or complete any assignment will result in failing grade in the course.

4. Assignment submission

All essays will be submitted on paper at the beginning of the class in which they are due. I describe the appropriate format and post a pdf of formatting guidelines to the website in an early class during the term. I will not accept or read essays submitted electronically. If an essay is late, and I am not in my office to accept it, you must submit it to the English Department Secretary, BAC 415, so that it is time-stamped. Under no circumstances should you slip late essays under my office door. If you finish a late essay on a weekend, you should send me an electronic copy of the essay on the date completed, and submit an exact hard copy of the electronic submission to me or to the departmental secretary. I will check the electronic copy of the document against the printed copy, and should there be any difference between the two, the late penalty shall be determined by the date the printed copy was received and time-stamped.


Presentation/Podcast Policies

The PowerPoint/Podcast presentations you deliver at the end of the second term are an important component of the course, complementing the work you do in your papers.  But the important difference between the essay and the presentation is that the latter is meant to be delivered to an audience.  I expect everyone in the class to show up for every presentation out of respect for and in support of your fellow students.  

I consider this sign of respect and support so important that I reward students who show up and ask questions.  Students who continually participate in the question period following presentations will receive a bonus of up to 5% on their own presentation grades, depending, of course, on the quality of the participation.

I take the opposite approach with students who don't show up for presentations.  For each presentation you miss, you will receive a penalty of -2% on your own presentation mark unless you can provide me with a doctor's note explaining your absence.

Finally, if you fail to show up for your own presentation, you will receive a failing grade in the course (see section 3 under Essay Policies).


Plagiarism Policy

I have a zero tolerance policy on plagiarism.  Whether accidental or intentional, plagiarism will result in a zero grade on the offending assignment.  Depending on the severity of the case, it might even result in a zero on the course and a permanent black mark on your academic record.

Take care to cite all your sources in all your assignments, including your blog entries.  While I don't require you to do research for most of your papers, I understand that you might wish to look in the library or at the web for some ideas on your various topics.  Be sure that if you look at anything, you cite it.  If you take any idea from anywhere, cite it.  If you paraphrase any point made by anyone else, cite it.  If you aren't sure, cite it!

Students are required to read pages from the Acadia University Calendar regarding academic integrity and the discipline.

I also highly recommend that you check out the following the following:

And by all means, drop by to see me during my office hours if you need clarification on any point of concern. 

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Note that essay topics will appear here two weeks before the assigned due date. Presentation topics will not be introduced until term 2.

Essay 1


Write a well-crafted, argumentative essay of 800-1000 words on one of the following topics.

  1. Support or refute the following statement with a close reading of the poem: "Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 is more about poetry than it is about the young man it purports to immortalize in verse."
  2. Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply" are poems that make statements about women. Marlowe's statement statement about women is indirect, implied by his male narrator's simple plea for love. Raleigh's statement is much more direct, discernible in the voice and response in his female narrator. While articulating the statements each poem makes about women, decide which of the poems represents women in a more favourable light.
  3. Support or refute the following statement with a close reading of the poem: "Marvell's 'To His Coy Mistress' is a genuine plea for love and not a cynical attempt to get a woman into bed."

Points to remember when writing essays: 1. Avoid plot summary. 2. Formulate a strong thesis statement that will force you into an argumentative mode. 3. Make generous use of textual evidence (ie., quotations) to support your claims. 4. Always analyse that evidence to prove your points.

Include a works cited list with your paper, even if the only work you are citing is the primary text.

Due Date: 11 October 2011


Essay 2


Write a well-crafted, argumentative essay of 800-1000 words on one of the following topics.

  1. Pick one of the following characters from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and discuss how that character is important to the central message of the play.

    • Gonzalo
    • Stephano
    • Trinculo
    • Antonio
    • Sebastian
    • Caliban
  2. Discuss what Bronte’s Jane Eyre says about class divisions in nineteenth century England.
  3. Wordsworth’s “Michael: A Pastoral Poem” signals a radical change in the artistic approach to the pastoral. Discuss the nature of that change by comparing Wordsworth’s pastoral poem to Marlowe’s.

Points to remember when writing essays: 1. Avoid plot summary. 2. Formulate a strong thesis statement that will force you into an argumentative mode. 3. Make generous use of textual evidence (ie., quotations) to support your claims. 4. Always analyse that evidence to prove your points.

Include a works cited list with your paper, even if the only work you are citing is the primary text.

Due Date: 17 November 2011


Essay 3


Write a well-crafted, argumentative essay of 1000-1250 words on one of the following topics.

  1. Is Bartleby an autonomous individual asserting himself, or is he just another automaton in a world full of automatons? When considering this question note that Bartleby is represented as indivdualistic through his acts of passive resistance, and as highly predictable because of the same acts of passive resistence. Where does Melville ultimately stand on Bartleby?
  2. Discuss madness as a form of resistance in "The Yellow Wallpaper." Follow the narrator's tragic degeneration into madness to determine whether her madness can or should be read as a form of resistance to patriarchal dominance.
  3. Focus on the relationship between Marlow and Kurtz while discussing what Conrad's Heart of Darkness is saying about the power of language.
  4. Discuss the character of Sarah in Translations. By closely reading her character, decide how she fits into Friel's argument about the power and importance of language.

Points to remember when writing essays: 1. Avoid plot summary. 2. Formulate a strong thesis statement that will force you into an argumentative mode. 3. Make generous use of textual evidence (ie., quotations) to support your claims. 4. Always analyse that evidence to prove your points.

Include a works cited list with your paper, even if the only work you are citing is the primary text.

Due Date: 7 February 2012


Essay 4


Write a well-crafted, argumentative essay of 1250-1500 words on one of the following topics.

  1. During our discussion of Malouf's Remembering Babylon, we examined how Gemmy directly and indirectly influenced certain characters in the novel. Discuss how Gemmy directly or indirectly influences one the following characters we did not discuss: Ellen McIvor or Mr. Frazer.
  2. The house is an important symbol in Mansfield's "A Doll's House" and in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily." Compare the way the two writers use the house as a symbol.
  3. Discuss how and why Adiga's The White Tiger uses animals and animal imagery as it traces Balram's rise from poverty to power in modern India.

Points to remember when writing essays: 1. Avoid plot summary. 2. Formulate a strong thesis statement that will force you into an argumentative mode. 3. Make generous use of textual evidence (ie., quotations) to support your claims. 4. Always analyse that evidence to prove your points.

Include a works cited list with your paper, even if the only work you are citing is the primary text.

Due Date: 22 March 2012


The presentation that you will give individually during the last classes of the term are meant to build on the skills we've developed during the year.  The presentations involve isolating three or four issues related to the assigned works, presenting those issues in a critical and organised way in either a PowerPoint presentation or a podcast.

Each presentation must be between 4-5 minutes in length. Should they exceed that length, they will be cut short and penalized. Should they fail to make the minimum time requirement, they will also be penalized. No matter the format, students will be expected to stand in front of the class while presenting/broadcasting their arguments. After each presentation, each student will answer questions from the class. This means that the entire class is expected to have read the stories assigned for the presentations. Note that I will not be asking any questions.

All PowerPoints will contain a title slide (which will include your name), four body slides outlining your argument, and a works cited slide, for a total of six slides. The first slide of the body should contain your thesis and an outline of the key points you will make in the remaining three slides. All podcasts must include a title, which you will present while you introduce yourself. You must spend time presenting a thesis and a verbal outline of your argument before proceeding to develop that argument. Make a verbal reference to the text you are citing at the end of the podcast.

You must form a thesis statement to help you organise your presentation. You must cite the text and analyse the passages you cite while making your argument.

All presentations will be submitted to me during the classes in which they are presented. While I prefer to receive .ppt files (Microsoft Office), I will accept other file formats, such as Keynote (Mac iWork), and .pdf. Podcasts must be in .mp3 or .m4a formats. An MLA style works cited list in .doc (Microsoft Word) or .rtf format must accompany the podcast, even if the only work you cite during the presentation is the assigned short story. Please include your name as part of the file name for all documents submitted (ie. [Your name] PowerPoint.ppt, [Your name] Podcast.mp3, and [Your name] Works Cited.rtf).

A note on the topics.  I insist that you decide what you want to say about each work.  In other words, you have to form your own argument about the story from a topic you determine by yourself.  I will, however, make the following suggestions about what you might discuss:  you can discuss any of the standard features of the short stories—for instance, metaphor, imagery, symbolism, theme, setting, characterisation, and epiphany.  But make sure you do so in the context of some sort of argument.  In other words, if you are going to discuss the setting, make sure you do so because understanding the setting is key to understanding the story and the point it is making. Do not spend any time giving the class a biography of the author.

Your grade will be determined by several criteria: organisation, clarity, use of evidence and analysis, and response to questions.  Note that you can make up for deficiencies in your own presentations by asking useful questions of your classmates during their presentations (see assignment policies above).  Do help your classmates out by participating!

Note also that failure to show up for your presentation on the assigned date will result in a failing grade in the course.

Look for your name beside the title in the Weekly Outline to determine which work you are required to discuss for your presentation.