online syllabus:


electronic reserves: 
(password 100)


* groups * homework * essay *
exam 1 * exam 2 *

* course schedule *

Literature 100 (Fall 2012):

Worlds on the Page: Introduction to Literature

Fiction ~ Poetry ~ Drama

Description:  Description:

Dr. Abby Coykendall

abbcoy at

Pray-Harrold Hall 603J

Office Hours: M 1:30–3:30, TTh 3:15–4:45

Phone: 734.487.0954

~ or email for an appointment ~

Pray-Harrold Hall 324

Tuesday & Thursday 2:00–3:15 pm

Registration #11235, Section #2

Literature 100: Worlds on the Page: Introduction to Literature

LITR 100 is a class in which you will explore a wide variety of literature—novels, short stories, poetry, and drama—spanning the early modern period to the present and encompassing authors from around the world.  The main goal is to provide a general introduction to literature that will inspire you to appreciate and cultivate the literary arts through further writing, reading, or coursework on your own.  By the end of the semester, you will have surveyed an array of representative works written in English, honed your artistic sensibility and analytical skills, and familiarized yourself with the conventions of literature enough to think carefully and creatively about them.  Whether discussing poetry or world events, we will expand rather than confine our engagement with the literature, ultimately coming to understand how the literary imagination offers a way to (re)envision and potentially (re)create the everyday world in which we live.

Course Objectives:

By the end of the semester, you will be better able to

* Interpret literature from a wide variety of historical and cultural contexts, including mass media and popular culture;

* Deepen appreciation of the humanities by examining the artistic techniques and thematic concerns of major literary works;

* Broaden life experience through engagement with the diverse traditions and perspectives found in imaginative literature;

* Understand the vital ways in which literature influences culture and culture influences literature in turn;

* Practice critical thinking skills (e.g. self-reflexivity, close reading, textual analysis. while investigating and debating the communal meaning of texts;

* Become familiar with the main concepts and concerns of literary criticism, especially those which are useful for lifelong learning within or outside the classroom;

* Effectively communicate this newly acquired knowledge about literature verbally and in writing.

General Education Rationale:

Literature captures the hopes, politics, emotions and ideals not just of individuals but of generations.  Reading literature provides a window into cultures past.  It also reveals how creative expressions can shape individual and community understandings of the world in which we live. Literature 100 is designed to cultivate students’ appreciation of literary texts by providing a context to learn about the formal and historical features of different kinds of poems, plays, and works of fiction.  As a Humanities course in the Knowledge of the Disciplines, this class introduces terms important for the critical understanding of poetry, drama, and fiction as imaginative literary forms.  It also helps students analyze poems, plays, and stories as products of the cultures that produced them and as texts that have impacted and influenced societies.  Because the course focuses on different types of literature in historical contexts, students will gain a nuanced understanding of the cultural meaning of poetry, drama, and fiction and learn to interpret literary texts as complex social practices that are also meaningful as human art.

Required Materials:

Some texts can be accessed and/or printed from campus computers in the Electronic Reserves (ER):, password 100. Bring copies of any text that we will be covering to class. Beloved is available on reserve at the Halle library circulation desk, but may also be in high demand during the weeks when we discuss it (click on the asterisks ** for availability).

Description: 3theor.gif   Description: deciv.jpg 

Literature: A Portable Anthology, ed. Janet E. Gardner (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003; ISBN #0312412797)

Toni Morrison, Beloved (Norton 1989; ISBN #0452264464) **

When purchasing, double check the ISBN number, a fingerprint of sorts for the book, to ensure that you get the same editions pictured above.

Instructor Availability:

I will be delighted to discuss any course-related questions, interests, or concerns in person during my office hours, as well as at any time through email (abbcoy at Emails with straightforward questions usually receive a reply within a few hours to a day; those with thornier issues typically receive a reply before the next class period and at most within a week.

Please limit emails to inquiries that I alone can answer so that I can give the more pressing inquiries of other students the attention that they deserve. If, for example, you are unsure about a due date, consult the syllabus (/f12.htm), the homework handout (/hw.htm), or the peers in your group (groups.htm), and then email me only if the confusion persists.

The first time that students visit my office hours in person with a course-related inquiry—such as to get guidance on the homework, discuss the readings that we have lately covered, or brainstorm essay or exam ideas—I will give 10 points extra credit for the visit.

Course Structure and Itinerary:

Nothing is more vital for success in this course than keeping up with, and actively engaging in, the reading/viewing assignments, response papers, and class discussions each week.  Being prepared to discuss the readings with your peers in each class is mandatory. The more actively you participate, the more fully the course content can reflect your unique needs and interests. See the Schedule (/sch.htm) for the activities required for each class period (webpages associated with this class all begin

The Homework handout (/hw.htm) not only gives specifics about the various assignments, such as response papers, that may be due, but also information about extra-credit opportunities. Extra credit is an ideal way to get your grade back on track if you ever fall behind.

** A brief, straight-forward quiz may be given at the beginning of the period to encourage you to arrive on time and prepared.


Depending on your group number—see the groups handout (/groups.htm)—you may be doing different homework than your peers. The groupwork is simply a way to organize which set of students do which assignment (and with which materials) each week—thus diversifying the topics highlighted in class discussion, the people responsible for bringing those issues to our attention, as well as the skills that they use to do so. There is, however, no “groupwork” properly speaking; that is, collaboration your peers on the same assignment.



Participation (responses, homework, groupwork, presentation, & quizzes)

due dates:


Examination #1: Short fiction & the novel (true false; short answer; self-designed essay question)

October 18


Comparison-Contrast Essay (poem from presentation plus a self-selected song or poem of choice)

December 6


Examination #2: Poetry and drama (true false; short answer; self-designed essay question)

December 13 (1:30–3:00)


Because this course primarily consists of reading and discussion—rather than facts, figures, or memorization—regular attendance is crucial. You never need to explain your absences, as I will always assume that you have an excellent reason to miss class; however, students who miss more than FOUR classes for any reason will have their final grade reduced by a full mark, and those who miss more than FIVE classes will not be eligible to pass. Reserve the allowable absences for illnesses or other emergencies truly preventing you from coming to class so as to not exhaust them too early in the term.

When you must be absent, contact students in your group (/groups.htm) to share notes or determine what you missed. Any changes to the Schedule (/scd.htm) will be sent to the class as a whole by email. Besides the exams, which must be taken on the scheduled day, missed homework is due on your return.


The most essential information—due dates, assignment instructions, clarification of outstanding issues—is typically given at the beginning of class, so it is essential to come on time. Leave home early just in case you encounter any problems along the way (traffic jams, late busses, no parking). Arriving well into the class period or exiting well before its conclusion each count as half an absence. If you come late, it is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet to avoid being marked absent. Habitual lateness that disrupts the class will eventually be counted as an absence as well.

Classroom Etiquette:

It is important to be mindful of your peers during class time, listening to them with the same respect and attention that you hope to receive yourself. Once class begins, do not distract your peers by walking in or out of the room unless there is a genuine emergency. If you have a medical condition requiring you to exit occasionally, bring a doctor’s note confirming as such; if not, reserve all personal business, including bathroom or water breaks, for after class.

Disruptive exits can be both mental and physical. Students unprepared to discuss the texts for the day may be asked to leave and marked absent; so too will students staring at non-course-related content on tablet or laptop screens, especially for long stretches of time or repeatedly. This course has a no-cell-phone policy, so do not bother taking those instruments out during class time.

Grading Scale:





























Academic & Campus Resources:

The University Writing Center (115 Halle Library) offers one-to-one writing consulting for both undergraduate and graduate students. Make appointments or drop in from 10AM to 4PMMondays through Thursdays and from 11AM to 4PM on Fridays. Bring a draft of your work and the assignment. The UWC also has several satellite sites across campus, including in Pray Harrold 521 (open 10–2 M–Th).

The Academic Projects Center (116 Halle Library) offers one-to-one, drop-in consulting for students on writing, research, or technology-related issues from 11-5 Monday-Thursday. Another support center is the International Student Resource Center (200 Alexander, 487-0370) dedicated to second-language students from abroad.

Also consider availing yourself of the campus escort service, Student Eyes and Ears for University Safety, by calling 48-SEEUS (487-3387). If you sign up for the emergency text-messaging system (, DPS can notify us of any calamity afflicting the campus.

Academic Integrity:

Doing all coursework on your own is imperative. Copying the homework of peers, taking credit for essays that you find on the internet, cheating on exams, or recycling your own essays written for other classes for double credit are all forms of academic dishonesty. The worst form of academic dishonesty is plagiarism, which, put simply, is taking either the ideas or thewords of another person and reusing them as if they are your own.  You must acknowledge when you make use of the concepts and/or expressions of other people withoutANY exception under ANY circumstance, whether it be by drawing on Wikipedia for mundane (and quite possibly specious) information or channeling the most holy of holy books for heavenly inspiration.

When describing the ideas of someone else in your own words, make sure to signal as such (e.g., So and so says X … ”); most importantly, when inserting the words of someone else into your own writing, make sure to credit that person for the passage and place quotation marks on either side (e.g., So and so says “X”). Writing lacking these acknowledgements will pass as your own by default, and any writing that thus seems to be your own, without actually being your own, will be plagiarizing the original source.

All instances of academic dishonesty will result in an automatic 0% grade for the assignment; second instances will result in outright failure of the course. There is no excuse for academic dishonesty, nor will there be any exceptions to this policy. Make sure that your work is plagiarism-free before turning it in.


[Syllabus last modified September 6, 2012]