Course Description: "Critical Thinking and Writing About Literature" is a course which develops critical thinking skills through the reading and analysis of literature. When we refer to "critical thinking," we most often mean skills that allow us to listen and/or read, analyze and evaluate a situation, idea or argument. In the process of reaching a judgment about an oral or written presentation, we must be able to understand and analyze the language choices made and their effects on the reader, discover and evaluate the assumptions and/or biases underlying the piece, identify the facts presented and the inferences possible, and recognize the reasoningólogical or notófound in the piece. We will be examining the literary works read in this class with these points at the forefront. However, we will also be reading for the understanding of the diverse points of view found in literature and always for the enjoyment of the literary works themselves.
Assignments: Reading: There will be reading assignments of short stories, poetry, or drama given for each class period. Assigned readings are to be completed for each class. Our discussions will be quite sketchy and very minimal if you do not complete the schedule of readings!
Writing: There will be five major (3-5 pages) essays this semester. There will be two for the short story section, one for the drama section, and two for the poetry section. There will also be a number of short (1 page; 250-300 words) homework writings assigned on specific elements of the type of literature we are studying (e.g., the effects of "place" or setting on the characters in a particular short story or the use of symbol in a particular poem). In addition, there will be three group class presentations, one at the end of each of the three units of the course, and for each of these a summary essay of your individual contribution to the presentation will be required. Each of these three will be based on the "casebook" section of the individual units.
Please be sure to keep all of your returned, graded essays so that your final grade will be easily documented.
Grading: The one page homework essays will be 20% of the final grade; each of the five major essays will be 10% (50% total); each of the class presentations will be l0% (30% total). Although no research will be necessary for most of the essays assigned, any research that is incorporated into an essay must be properly documented in MLA format. Failure to document sources will result in a failing grade for the essay AND a failing grade for the semester.
Attendance: Attending class is mandatory. Excessive absence (more than six unexcused absences) will result in a lowered grade. If you wish to drop this class, it is YOUR responsibility to do so; I will not do so for you.
Be sure that all cell phones and pages are turned off BEFORE you come to class; you are NOT to interrupt class discussion with personal business for any reason.
Course Essay Assignments