Course Description


ENGL 244-03 (27820): Fall 2016
Tu/Th 10:05 AM–11:55 AM, Kiely Hall 173

Dr. Kevin L. Ferguson
Office: Klapper 711
Office Hours: Tuesdays 12:00–1:00

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course explores theoretical formulations that inform the work of literary study, examining what different methodologies value, how they are articulated, and how they assign meaning to texts. The course focuses on at least three distinct critical methods, and it includes both the use of theory in interpreting specific literary texts and the critical scrutiny of theoretical texts themselves. (4 hrs 4 crs; Prereq: English 170W.)


In studying key texts in three distinct critical methods, students will be able to . . .

  • Speak fluently about trends and changes in the scholarly study of literature.
  • Describe how differences between theoretical approaches affect the interpretation of literary texts.
  • Describe both advantages and problems of these various theoretical approaches. 

In completing research-based writing assignments, students will be able to . . .

  • Apply theoretical approaches to literary texts.
  • Identify genuine intellectual problems and conduct scholarly research that recognizes the conventions of literary criticism and academic essays.
  • Find and evaluate appropriate secondary sources (including visual, graphic, or numerical information), to select quotation for use as evidence, to integrate quotation, and to properly cite quotation using MLA style.

In creating a final online research project, students will be able to . . .

  • Effectively use web-based technologies in order to publish and present academic writing.
  • Develop and use strategies for improving writing and critical thinking through recursive practice, self-reflection, and the process of revision.
  • Take advantage of a range of appropriate scholarly resources such as books, journals, indexes, online catalogs, web search engines, and libraries. 

PARTICIPATION: Since participation is crucial to your success, you should not miss more than three classes. I do not differentiate between excused and unexcused absences. If you come unprepared to class, you are not present; “coming unprepared” includes such things as not doing the reading, not bringing the text to class, sleeping during class, not making an effort to participate, arriving late or leaving early. If you know you cannot attend, contact me before to ask about submitting homework; I do not accept late assignments.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: I have a zero-tolerance policy towards plagiarism and academic dishonesty. The minimum punishment for plagiarism is an F as a final grade and being reported to the campus officer.

From the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity [pdf]: Violations of academic integrity include: cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and denying others access to information or material. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of what constitutes academic dishonesty; students who are unsure of whether their work meets criteria for academic integrity should consult with their instructor. Students should look at the full policy, which provides further examples and possible consequences for incidences of academic dishonesty.

SPECIAL ACCOMMODATION: If you have a learning, sensory, or physical reason for special accommodation, please inform me and the Office of Special Services at 718-997-5895.


Students will be evaluated in three broad areas:

1) their ability and diligence in completing all writing assignments on time, reading and reflecting on assigned readings before class, and participating in class discussions.

2) their competence in meeting the learning objectives identified above.

3) their ability to demonstrate, through the pieces in their final web project and their meta-reflective cover letter, that they have made thoughtful and careful revision from earlier drafts.

In practice, the final grade will be more of a negotiation than a reward. Sometime during the final third of the semester, students should meet with me one-on-one. During this time we will discuss their current strengths and weaknesses and establish a set of expectations for the remainder of the semester. The student and instructor will agree on what is an appropriate final grade, dependent upon their completing a list of expectations. This list might include specific revision of certain assignments, good faith effort to participate more, or mastery of certain recurring problem areas. Students will submit a short memo outlining our conversation, to serve as a grading contract.