ENGL 383: History of Literature in English in the Twentieth Century

Fall 2005

Section 20: MW 3:30-4:45, Bryan 328


Jason Coats E-mail: coats@virginia.edu; Office hours: Bryan 328, directly following section


Section Requirements

1)    Attendance & Participation

2)    Weekly quizzes

3)    E-mail Response

4)    Midterm Exam (10/12)

5)    Two 7-pg. papers

6)    Final exam (12/13, 9am)


Attendance & Participation

You will be allowed two freebie absences for our discussion section. After that, each absence will result in your final grade being lowered by 1/3 (e.g. A- becomes B+). Tardies will count as 1/2 an absence.


Our discussion section meets twice a week and is intended to supplement the course lectures. Think of the discussion section as a space where you raise questions or problems about the text(s), experiment with ideas by investigating them with your classmates, practice close-reading skills, and draw connections between the different works we read throughout the semester. Active, thoughtful, lively participation is crucial.


Weekly Quizzes

Each week during our discussion section (Monday, Wednesday, or both) you will be given a short quiz concerning the reading material for that week. These quizzes are intended to ensure no student falls behind in his or her reading, and to prompt preparation for each section discussion. Make-up quizzes will be available if you are absent, but it is your responsibility to arrange a make-up with me.


E-mail Response

Once during the semester you will send a page-long e-mail response to our class e-mail at ENGL383-20@toolkit.virginia.edu. This response should not run more than a page, and should describe a strong reaction you had to a specific part of the text. You might discuss a passage, plot event, formal technique, or thematic pattern you see emerging in the text. The response should end with a question or problem for discussion relating to the issue you raise. This should be a question/problem you do not know the solution to but you believe is important to pursue. These e-mails will be due on Tuesdays by 5pm (you will sign up for your e-mail in the first week of our section). You will be responsible for reading your classmates’ e-mails before discussion on Wednesday each week.



Your two papers will each be 7 pages in length. The first paper is due on October 7th by noon; the second paper is due on November 18th by noon. Please turn these in to our class box outside of Bryan 219. For each, you will offer a close reading of a passage, and then connect this close reading to the larger meaning of the text and/or to the larger issues of the course. We will discuss these papers in greater detail later in the semester. For now, please keep in mind these fundamentals: Late papers will be penalized by one-third of a letter grade per 24-hour period past the due date. • No rewritten papers will be accepted. • One paper must be on a poet; the other on a novelist or short-story writer. • One must be on an author read before midterm; the other on an author read after midterm.


Grade Distribution

Two 7 pg. papers, 40% (20% each); Participation (including e-mail response), 10%; Weekly quizzes, 10%; Midterm exam, 15%; Final exam, 25%.

From the 383 website:



The following statement on plagiarism, composed by a University faculty member, appears in a letter from the Chair of the Honor Committee:

Plagiarism is presenting another person’s work as your own. Examples of plagiarism include copying another person's paper, restating ideas from a book or article without citing the article as a source, or copying more than seven words from a book or article without quotation marks and a citation of the source of the quotation. These examples do not exhaust the possibilities. Any example of presenting another person’s work as your own is plagiarism. Common unacceptable excuses for plagiarism:

1. “I didn't know what I did was plagiarism.” If you have serious questions or doubts about requirements for citing other sources, consult a member of the Honor Committee or a faculty member.
2. “I didn’t think the assignment was important.” Plagiarism is a serious offense in any academic situation.
3. “I was under a lot of pressure.” Nothing justifies plagiarism.

This definition of plagiarism should guide your actions in the course. Note also that it is an honor offense to submit the same paper for two different courses, unless you check with the instructor of each course in advance.


Statement on Grading

Among faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, a spirited discussion of grade inflation is taking place. Our own contribution to this discussion is to remind you that merely fulfilling the minimum requirements for this course does not automatically entitle you to an A or a B. Grades in the B range are reserved for students whose work is good or above average. Grades in the A range are reserved for students whose work is truly exceptional, distinguished, outstanding.


Note on Reading Poems

Assignments for Yeats, Bishop, and Walcott average 40-45 poems each, or about 13-15 poems for each lecture and section devoted to a particular poet. The first lecture on each poet will cover her or his earlier poems, the second the later ones. Because poems take less time to run your eyes over than novels do, it is easy to read them quickly and put them aside, but unfortunately it is not adequate to do so. Read each poem slowly and carefully at least twice, perhaps one time aloud. For each poem, look up unfamiliar words and phrases in a dictionary (these are good material for quizzes) and jot down some notes about its form. Does it rhyme? If so, in what pattern? Is it in meter? If so, can you identify the meter? Is it in short lines or long ones? Stanzas or verse paragraphs or an unbroken column? What do these features seem to mean?


General Notes

Please be aware that the 383 website has a number of helpful tools for contextualization: maps, paintings, a detailed timeline. These are excellent sources of information for you to bring up in discussions. Consider using these as well when you write your e-mail response. Periodically, I may cancel office hours and offer group review sessions during that time (I suggest October 10th to review for the Midterm) or other primers: an explanation of section grading with example papers, close reading mechanics, or any other concerns that might benefit the group. Please consider these voluntary.