On this page you will submit your formal papers by the due date and time by clicking on the links below. You can also find more information about each assignment on this page by scrolling down. 


SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT 1 by Oct. 11, 2018

COLLECTIVE SYLLABUS – add your entry by Nov. 1, group entry by Nov. 8

SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT 2 by Nov. 8, 2018

SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT 3 by Dec. 20, 2018





Assignment 1:…………………..……15%

Assignment 2:…………………..……10%

Assignment 3:……………..…………20%

Portfolio Reflection:…………..………5%

Group Presentation:…………………10%

Peer Review:…………………………….5%

Weekly Short Writings:…………..…25%

Discussion and In-Class Writings:….10%


Assignment 1: Our Offerings to the Canon

5 pages

Draft due: Oct. 2; Revision due: Oct. 11

In this assignment you will choose one of the criteria we will have discussed in this course that have been used to justify the inclusion of works of literature in the American canon, defining clearly your understanding of what the set of values are behind that criterion – in other words: why have people argued that this is an important factor in choosing to read or teach a work of literature? You will use that criterion as a basis for comparing two works of literature, one from a list of canonical works that I will provide, and one of your own choosing that you think also embodies the spirit of the criterion as you’ve explained it. You may choose any work of literature you choose, the term “literature” being as broadly defined as you’d like, but whatever you choose, you should be able to make a case for why the text you’ve chosen fits your chosen criterion.


Assignment 2: What Matters to Us

3 pages

Draft due: Nov. 1; Revision due: Nov. 8

In this assignment you will argue for what you think is the most important factor to consider when choosing a work of literature for inclusion in a course like this one, a “Great Works of American Literature” course at the general education level at Queens College. You may choose to argue for the primary importance of one of the criteria we’ve discussed so far, or you may offer your own criterion, one that addresses your own understanding of what the point is of reading literature in college. You will also propose here one literary text (broadly defined) that you think embodies the criterion you’ve chosen to defend, arguing why that text would be valuable to students in your position.


Assignment 3: Contextualizing Our Canon

6 pages

Draft due: Dec. 6; Revision due: at the date and time of final exam, TBA

In this final assignment, you will choose one of the texts offered by a fellow classmate in Assignment 2 and do a researched analysis of the text, interpreting it in context by consulting at least two relevant, supported, and substantial sources that will aid you in making your case. You will choose an interpretive problem in the text to analyze (what is some real question you have about what is being presented, how it is being presented, or why it is being presented) and offer a thesis that addresses that question. In choosing your interpretive question, you should take seriously the set of values offered by your classmate in proposing the text. In other words, if your classmate chose that text because they think it speaks to young women, or because they think it is politically important, or because it is intellectually challenging, let that evaluation guide the question you ask about the text.


PORTFOLIO REFLECTION:At the end of the semester, students will submit a 1-2 page document reflecting on the development of their ideas over the course of the semester, as well as the final writing product that they are submitting in the final portfolio. This document can address any part of the coursework that the student finds relevant to a discussion of their writerly or scholarly development. Consider this an opportunity to let me in on what the experience of producing this work has been like for you this semester and to reflect yourself on what skills you’ve been working on, what you think you’ve done well, and what you are still not satisfied with. If you are submitting revisions of previous assignments as part of your portfolio, I would also appreciate it if you include a description of what you worked on/changed, so that I know what to look for as I read those new versions.


GROUP PRESENTATION: With a group of 2-3 other students (we will determine groups in-class), you will choose one day of class to read together and present on a theoretical text that discusses one way of valuing literary objects. A list of possible texts/dates will be provided, and we will assign these presentation dates in-class. Together, you will create a 5-10 minute presentation that does three things. First, you will summarize the article that your group read. Second, you will discuss the extent to which your group agrees or disagrees that the values offered in the text you read are important. Third, you will offer a literary object, not assigned on our syllabus, that your group thinks demonstrates the set of values offered by the theoretical text. In other words, if your theoretical text asserts that literary objects assigned in college classrooms should familiarize students with texts widely known and referenced in American literature (thus making students more culturally conversant), your group might choose to argue that Hamletdemonstrates those values, but you might also argue that Borat or Harry Potterdemonstrates those values.


PEER REVIEW: For each formal written assignment, you will be required to complete a draft ahead of a peer review session. At that session, you will bring a hard copy of a full draft of your essay. These drafts may be messy, but they must be full drafts – no draft will receive peer review credit if it is more than one page shorter than the required length of the finished project. On peer review day, you will read and comment on one another’s work, giving one another guided feedback. Your participation in peer review is part of your final semester grade, so you should note when those days are approaching and let me know about any potential reasons that would absolutely prevent you from attending.


WEEKLY SHORT WRITINGS: Each week that you do not have formal written work due, I will present you with a prompt and you will write a short response of 200-400 words. These responses will account for a large portion of your grade in this course. The purpose of these writings will be to build your ideas and develop them en route to producing your formal assignments. Many of these writings can be eventually incorporated into formal assignments, lessening the workload of those longer projects. Therefore, these responses do not need to be your most polished work and will not be graded based on how effective I find them as pieces of writing. However, the point is that they will help you develop your thinking, and so they should alwaysbe at least 200 words to receive credit, and you should consider them opportunities to advance your thinking, receive feedback on your thought process and receive credit for doing that work without having to worry about the quality of the writing itself.

These responses will be submitted digitally, as responses to posts that I make on our course website: URL. They will be due by 8pm every Monday night, so that you have the opportunity to read one another’s responses if you choose before class each week. You may skip up to and no more than two of these weekly writings to receive full credit.


IN-CLASS WRITING AND CLASS DISCUSSION: In this course you will also receive credit for the work you do in the classroom. We will have frequent in-class writings, and we will also have frequent class discussions of the assigned readings. Together, these elements will account for 10% of your total grade in this class.

In order to receive full credit for class discussion, you should contribute something to our conversation at least once per week. However, I understand that not everyone feels comfortable with speaking in-class – so, if you are ever unable to contribute to a class discussion for the week, you may instead engage with other students’ weekly writings online by commenting on someone else’s post with a comment of at least 50 words responding to their ideas.

When we do in-class writings, I will take them up at the end of class and return them to you the next class day. To receive full credit you should submit these writings every day that you are present – this work cannot be made up after the fact, and if you are frequently absent, that will be reflected in this portion of your grade.