English 4900 Seminar of Language and Literature, Spring 2018

TR 2:00-3:15 p.m., Arts & Sciences 340A




Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours: TR 12:30-1:30 p.m. and 5:30-6:00 p.m., Arts & Sciences 330


Course Description


The catalog describes English 4900 as "A culmination course reviewing the major figures of British and American literature and the basics of standard English." Replacing the English major exit exam, the Seminar of Language and Literature is required for graduation for English majors concentrating in literature. The course is designed to review both the major periods, authors, and texts of British and American literary traditions and the critical methodologies of literary studies. You will both summarize your understanding of literary tradition and demonstrate your ability to research literature and interpret texts through a variety of critical approaches. Additionally, the course includes career preparation for job, internship, and graduate school applications. You will prepare cover letters, statements of purpose, and resumes as well as practice presentation skills and interviewing strategies tailored to your specific goals. Readings include Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads, Thoreau's Walden, Chopin's The Awakening, Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Hughes's The Weary Blues, and DeLillo's White Noise. Assignments include two critical approaches essays, a literary period project, a research project, and a career preparation portfolio. This course's prerequisite is ENGL 3900.


This course's Academic Assessment page describes our topics:

as well as course outcomes:

Course Materials


required textbooks (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Hughes, The Weary Blues

required articles (GeorgiaVIEW)

course packet

recommended textbooks (Amazon)

Chopin, The Awakening (available at Project Gutenberg)

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th ed.

Homer, The Odyssey

(translated by Robert Fagles, available at Internet Archive and Scribd)

Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (available at Project Gutenberg)

Marlowe, Doctor Faustus (available at Project Gutenberg)

Thoreau, Walden (available at Project Gutenberg)

Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads: 1798 and 1802

(1798 edition available at Project Gutenberg; 1800 edition, volume 1 available at Project Gutenberg; 1800 edition, volume 2 available at Project Gutenberg)


Assignments and Grade Distribution


two critical approaches essays, 15% each

You will use two different interpretive approaches to research and interpret a literary work in two 6-8 page pages that you will read to the class.

literary period project, 20%

You will research the literary period of a text with a 10 source annotated bibliography and formally exhibit your findings to the class in a 15 minute audiovisual assisted presentation.

research project, 40%

Developed from an essay submitted in a previous class, you will annotate a 10 source bibliography, write a 18-20 page research paper, and formally display your research to the class in a 15 minute audiovisual assisted presentation.

career preparation portfolio, 10%

You will prepare career documents such as a resume, a statement of purpose, and a job application or internship cover letter, as well as practice a mock interview.


Course Policies



We will use the course site for the syllabus schedule and assignment prompts; supporting documents include an attendance record, a course grade calculation spreadsheet, FAQ, a GeorgiaVIEW walkthrough, a guide to literary analysis, a research methods guide, and paper templates. We will use GeorgiaVIEW for assignment submission and the course packet; if you experience problems with GeorgiaVIEW, immediately contact support. Check your university email for course-related messages. Use an online backup or cloud storage service to not only save but also archive versions of your work in case of personal computer calamities.


Because this liberal arts course values contemporaneous discussion over fixed lecture, regular attendance is required. Any student who misses seven or more classes for any reason (excused or unexcused) will fail the course. There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every unexcused absence beyond three. I suggest you use your three days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies, consistently leaving class early, texting, and surfing the internet will be treated as absences. Unexcused absences include work, family obligations, and scheduled doctor's appointments. Excused absences include family emergency, medical emergency, religious observance, and participation in a college-sponsored activity. If you have a medical condition or an extracurricular activity that you anticipate will cause you to miss more than four days of class, I suggest you drop this section or risk failure. The university class attendance policy can be found here. You can check your attendance here.

MLA Style and Length Requirements

Part of writing in a discipline is adhering to the field's style guide. While other disciplines use APA or Chicago style, literature and composition follows MLA style. In-class exams, discussion board responses, informal/journal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted; however, formal assignments and take-home exams must employ MLA style. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following three categories, for a possible one letter grade deduction total: 1) margins, header, and heading, 2) font, font size, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. A formal paper or take-home exam will be penalized one-third of a letter grade if it does not end at least halfway down on the minimum page length (not including Works Cited page) while implementing 12 pt Times New Roman font, double-spacing, and 1" margins. Each additional page short of the minimum requirement will result in an a additional one-third letter grade penalty. It is your responsibility to learn how to control your word-processing program. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by referring to the FAQ handout and using the MLA style checklist. Feel free to use these templates that are preformatted to MLA style.

Late Assignments

We're all busy with multiple classes and commitments, and adhering to deadlines is critical for the smooth running of the course. There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I give short extensions if you request one for a valid need at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. Because your completion of this course's major learning outcomes depends on the completion of pertinent assignments, failing to submit an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within a five days of its due date will result in failure of the course. Failing to submit a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in failure of the course.

Academic Honesty

The integrity of students and their written and oral work is a critical component of the academic process. The Honor Code defines plagiarism as "presenting as one's own work the words or ideas of an author or fellow student. Students should document quotes through quotation marks and footnotes or other accepted citation methods. Ignorance of these rules concerning plagiarism is not an excuse. When in doubt, students should seek clarification from the professor who made the assignment." The Undergraduate Catalog defines academic dishonesty as "Plagiarizing, including the submission of others’ ideas or papers (whether purchased, borrowed, or otherwise obtained) as one’s own When direct quotations are used in themes, essays, term papers, tests, book reviews, and other similar work, they must be indicated; and when the ideas of another are incorporated in any paper, they must be acknowledged, according to a style of documentation appropriate to the discipline" and "Submitting, if contrary to the rules of a course, work previously presented in another course," among other false representations. "As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, "since the primary goal of education is to increase one's own knowledge," any student found guilty of substantial, willful plagiarism or dishonesty will fail the assignment and the course. Here is how I have dealt with plagiarists in the past. This course uses plagiarism prevention technology from TurnItIn. The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.

Passing or Failing of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: failing to regularly attend class, plagiarizing, failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness. By contrast, students who regularly attend class, complete their work with academic integrity, and submit assignments on time will pass the course.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is a free service available to all members of the university community. Consultants assist writers in the writing process, from conception and organization of compositions to revision to documentation of research. Located in Library 228, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Additional Policies

Additional statements regarding the Religious Observance Policy, Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability, Student Rating of Instruction Survey, Academic Honesty, and Fire Drills can be found here.


Course Schedule

Week 1

T, 1-16


R, 1-18

No Class: Snow Day

Week 2

T, 1-23

Homer, The Odyssey (Books 1, 5, 9-12, 17, 19, 21-24)

R, 1-25

No Class: Professor at Conference

Week 3

T, 1-30

Career Center Guest Speaker (Pam Santamaria)

R, 2-1

Resume/Curriculum Vita Workshop

Week 4

T, 2-6

Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

R, 2-8

Marlowe, concluded


Week 5

T, 2-13

Research Project Workshop [Papers due S, 2-11]

R, 2-15

Cover Letter/Statement of Purpose Workshop [Letters due T, 2-13]

Week 6

T, 2-20

Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads: 1802

(Focus on the Preface, "The Ancient Mariner," "The Nightingale, written in April, 1798," "We Are Seven," "Lines Written above Tintern Abbey," "Strange fits of passion have I known," "She dwelt among th' untrodden ways," "A slumber did my spirit seal," "Lucy Gray," and "Three years she grew in sun and shower")

R, 2-22

Wordsworth and Coleridge, concluded

Week 7

T, 2-27

Research Project Conferences

R, 3-1

Thoreau, Walden

Week 8

T, 3-6

Thoreau, concluded

R, 3-8

Mock Interviews

Week 9

T, 3-13

Chopin, The Awakening

R, 3-15

Chopin, concluded

Week 10

T, 3-20

No Class: Spring Break

R, 3-22

No Class: Spring Break

Week 11

T, 3-27

Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

R, 3-29

Joyce, concluded

Week 12

T, 4-3

LinkedIn Workshop (Pam Santamaria)

Career Preparation Portfolio Due

R, 4-5

No Class: Professor at Conference

Research Project Annotated Bibliography Due

Week 13

T, 4-10

Hughes, The Weary Blues

R, 4-12

Hughes, concluded

Research Draft Due

Week 14

T, 4-17

Research Project Workshop

R, 4-19

DeLillo, White Noise

Week 15

T, 4-24

DeLillo, concluded

R, 4-26

Research Presentations

Week 16

T, 5-1

Research Presentations

R, 5-3

Research Presentations


W, 5-9

Metropolis Cafe (1:00 p.m.)

Research Paper and Annotated Bibliography Due