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398 Description and Policies

Page history last edited by Eric Leonidas 11 months, 2 weeks ago


English 398: Topics in Literary Research and Theory—Renaissance Tragedy


Professor Eric Leonidas                                                                       Office: Willard DiLoreto 401-09

Phone: 832-2750                                                                                 Hours: M/W: 3:00-4:30

email: leonidase@ccsu.edu                                                                            Thurs: 1:00-3:00                                                                     

Description: This course is intended to prepare you for advanced work in upper-level English literature courses.  To that end, it surveys several prominent theoretical approaches to criticism, and it takes students through the various steps necessary to write a research paper.




  • Practice and advance reading skills developed in ENG 298
  • Close knowledge of 3 of Renaissance tragedies
  • Understanding of how to read and summarize contemporary literary criticism
  • Develop, organize and draft a 12-page research paper
  • Incorporate secondary criticism into writing
  • Learn basic concepts from a variety of literary theories; incorporate some in criticism



Thomas Kyd.  The Spanish Tragedy.  Ed. Michael Neil. Norton Critical Editions. New York, 2003.

Thomas Heywood.  A Woman Killed with Kindness. New Mermaids, 2012

Shakespeare.  Othello. Ed.  Norton Critical Editions. New York, 2003.

Critical Theory Today. Ed. Lois Tyson, 3rd edition (Oxford, 2011).  CTT


* I am going to give you a bunch of handouts over the semester; anything marked “DL” means you will download it from our website and bring it to class the day it’s assigned.


Class Website: http://leonidas.pbworks.com/  Please look here for schedule revisions, announcements, assignments, descriptions, etc.  In case of cancellation due to weather, be sure to check this site!


Please Note:


  • Always bring the text(s) we are discussing to the class and a notebook to take notes. If you do not have the text, you will be marked absent.
  • Some of the texts you need are electronic files on the web.  On days these are assigned, you must have the text with you, either as a printout (preferred) or an electronic version (hard to take notes on).    


Course Requirements:


  • Attendance, preparation and active participation:      10 %
  • Writing Assignments (WA) and quizzes                      20 %
  • Short Paper                                                                20 %
  • Research Paper Project (with assignments)                 30 %
  • Presentation                                                               10 %
  • Final Exam:                                                                10 %


Attendance, preparation and active participation.  You must come to every class, on time and prepared.  You will be allowed two absences over the course of the semester, after which each additional absence will result in the loss of half a grade from the “attendance” portion of your final grade (10 %).  This is a small class and will be run as a seminar: I will introduce topics, problems, and questions, and then turn to you for discussion and informed input.  You will learn very little if I simply repeat what’s in our theory text; these are complicated ideas, and you are going to have to discover for yourselves the terms and turns of mind necessary to understand the theories and, more importantly, make them useful to you as readerly approaches to literature.


You must also be prepared for every course.  This means:


  • You have completed the reading assignment for the day.
  • You have worked to interpret the reading assignment—that is, you have made marginal comments in your text; you have circled and looked up words you did not know; you have written paraphrases where necessary; you have raised a few questions about the reading; you have indicated any important cross-references, etc.  (Please note that I discourage the use of highlighters.)  If the assignment is a critical essay, be sure you have underlined the main argument and indicated any supporting claims.
  • You have completed any writing assignment for the day.
  • You have completed any long-term assignment (papers, projects).



Writing Assignments and quizzes. 


There are several “Writing Assignments” due over the course of the semester.  They are about 2 pages each, with separate instructions for each.  Most ask you to explain a theoretical concept and use it to say something about a passage from one of our plays.




At the end of the semester you will give a super short presentation of your research project.  You will prepare a few slides (PowerPoint or Google) to explain how a chosen theory or theoretical concept can be used to analyze a play.


Communicating with me.  Please email me if you need to get in touch with me.  You can call my office phone, but I check it less frequently than I do my email and I’m not in my office much of the day.  See #3 below for more information on email.


General Policies:


1.  Attendance: you are expected to be in class on time, and prepared, for each meeting.  This includes bringing whatever texts we are discussing that day.  If you do not come prepared, with your text, you will not be considered present.


Over the course of the semester, I realize, perfect attendance may not be possible.  Depending on how often the course meets, an absence or two will not hurt your grade and does not require an excuse.  However, more than 3 unexcused absences will begin to affect your grade. An excused absence comes in very few forms: a note from a health-care provider, counselor, funeral director, university official, or court officer (this includes athletics).  Please note that nothing having anything to do with your job, your car, your apartment, your roommate, your pet, your printer, traffic, etc. will count as an excused absence.  These things do make demands on our time, of course, but they are manageable, to a degree, and I expect you to manage them over the course of the semester, especially on days when you have something due.


Please note, too, that an excused absence—whether for sickness, athletic commitments, family demands, other university activities—is still an absence.  You are expected to make up any work due or assigned.  And please don’t email me to ask what you missed.  I’ll be happy to discuss it with you beforehand, but afterward I expect you to get notes and other information from your fellow students or to schedule an appointment with me.  At the semester’s end I will review your attendance and adjust your final grade accordingly (see the syllabus for specifics).


2.  Due dates:  Please do not ask me for an extension the day something is due.  I recognize that at times an extension can be useful.  If you are working on a project and you think you might benefit from more time, let me know what you’re working on, where you are in the project, what (specifically) more time will help you to do, and I will consider it—as long as you ask me at least a day in advance. 


3.  Email: I check my email frequently and it is the best way to reach me.  I will accept emailed assignments only as formatted attachments.  Papers should be in Microsoft Word; if you use something else, resave it with a .doc extension.  If you email me an assignment I should have it before class on the due-date.  Please ask me to respond to your email to make sure I received it and that I can open the attachment.  If I do not respond, assume I have not received your email and bring me a hardcopy.  It’s your responsibility to make sure I receive what you send.  “I emailed it to you; I don’t know what happened” is not an acceptable excuse.


4.  Course requirements:  You are required to complete all of the course requirements.  Failure to complete any of them, no matter what percentage of your grade is involved, will result in an “F.”


5.  Plagiarism: I stick to the university policy.  Any language or ideas lifted from a secondary source and not properly acknowledged is plagiarism.  You will receive an “F” for the course and I will file an “Academic Misconduct Report.”  The University Judicial Officer will decide the next steps.


6.  Cell Phones:  They are a fact of modern life, and I accept that, but I ask you to take exceptional care with yours.  When you enter the classroom, silence yours and put it away.  Do NOT leave your phone on your desk or within eyeshot.  You’ll notice that sometimes I use the clock on mine to manage time; when you’re responsible for managing time you can use yours.  Please do not use your cellphones—even for texts—during the whole of class, even if there’s some “down” time after a quiz or other in-class assignment.  I understand that “multi-tasking” has become the norm, but I find it distracting (and yes, I can see you staring into your lap even when you think you’re being stealthy).


7.  In-class conduct: Courtesy is the key.  Please enter the room and settle yourself by the time the class begins (as opposed to fighting noisily with your girlfriend on your cellphone in the hallway), taking out the necessary books and materials and placing them on your desk (do not wait for me to mention the text before you take it out).  During discussion and presentations be as courteous to your fellow students as you are to me (if not more).


8. It is critical to me that everyone in the course have an equal opportunity to excel.  Please contact me privately to discuss your specific needs if you believe you need course accommodations based on the impact of a disability or medical condition, or if you have emergency medical information to share. I will need a copy of the accommodation letter from Student Disability Services to arrange your class accommodations. Contact Student Disability Services, Carroll Hall 246, if you are not already registered with them. Student Disability Services maintains the confidential documentation of your disability and assists you in coordinating reasonable accommodations with your faculty.


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