1. State scope of course and the primary concepts or topics it covers.
This course introduces students to a wide variety of literary texts and critical approaches. It covers the major genres - poetry, fiction, drama (and sometimes nonfiction) - and a variety of critical perspectives as well as writers from both sexes and from various countries and racial and ethnic groups. It introduces many of the basic formal elements central to close reading (imagery, point of view, dramatic structure, etc.) and many of the interpretive skills necessary to reading literary texts (identifying what counts as evidence, recognition of repeating patterns, etc.) Finally it introduces students to the possibility of reading texts in a variety of ways, based on a broad sampling of current important theoretical approaches.
Learning how to respond analytically and critically to a variety of literary texts is the center of the course. Students come to
recognize the different characteristics and readerly expectations of the various genres (lyric poetry, short stories, novels, drama),
understand how texts reflect (and critique) various historical and philosophical positions and need to be understood in relation to their historical contexts, and
appreciate in what complex ways language can be used directly and indirectly to convey complex meanings.
2. Describe student outcomes
Students learn the complex ways meaning is constituted in literary text - by recognizing generic conventions, by understanding the relevance of historical/geographical contexts of both writer and reader and how different contexts can result in different readings, by increasing their familiarity with the basic language elements of literary texts (imagery, repeating patterns, meter, symbolism, point of view, etc.). Students learn of the possibilities of different modes or perspectives on reading texts (for example, feminist, historical, biographical). Students learn to critique specific interpretations offered by their classmates, their teacher, and other critics. Students learn to articulate their own readings of a text both orally and in writing, using relevant textual support and cogent argumentation.
3. Describe how students demonstrate and develop critical thinking in this course.
Helping students to construct cogent interpretations of literary texts is a central goal of ECC140 that involves all the aspects of critical thinking skills:
identifying major questions and arguments about literature and its interpretations (information acquisition),
questioning the merits of different critical approaches to texts (application),
recognizing relevant textual details to develop cogent arguments (synthesis),
synthesizing those details into an interpretive concept,
identifying the stated and unstated assumptions of their own and others' interpretive positions (analysis),
critically comparing said interpretations (analysis),
forming arguments for or against other interpretive views (communication), and
evaluating various interpretive strategies.
These critical thinking skills are integrated into lectures, class discussions, oral presentations, and writing assignments.
4. Describe how students demonstrate and develop reading competency
Developing students' skills as close and sophisticated readers of texts is central to the course's concerns. Students come to recognize how generic considerations affect and control their readings, how historical contexts influence how a text is produced and how it is read, how a differing historical context of the reader can result in a reading widely at variance with readings within the writer's historical context, how meaning can be conveyed through a variety of indirect methods (irony, figurative language, etc.), how their readings can be related to their own lives and experiences, and how to construct and convey their interpretive ideas.
Specifically, ECC140 examines purposes, expectations, conventions, and relations to meaning of such genres as the epic, drama, the novel, etc. (information acquisition). Students come to recognize basic elements of each genre and explain how those elements affect meaning in the work as a whole (application). Moreover, as students work closely with selected texts, they explore personal interpretations of texts and their themes/ideas (synthesis). Class discussion and written work demand that students be able to focus on specific aspects of the texts relevant to different thematic concepts (evaluation), to summarize central ideas (analysis), and to communicate them to others (communication).
5. Describe how students demonstrate and develop written communication competency
Writing - in journals, short-paragraph responses, in-class and out-of-class essays - occupies a major role in this course. Students learn how to use relevant textual sources (information acquisition), to examine others' critical responses to literature and critically evaluate those interpretations (analysis), to form hypotheses with full textual support (synthesis), to develop arguments (communication), to relate their own ideas with those of others (synthesis), to articulate clearly their ideas (application), and to revise their written work in light of both peer and instructor feedback (evaluation). For example, refer to Myers' "mini-essay" assignments that call for students to formulate the problem of a text. Students then go on to connect the text to its cultural or historical perspective, examine the text in light of its connection to students' experiences, analyze the interaction of formal elements of the text, or examine the text from a specified critical perspective.