English 4900 Seminar of Language and Literature, Fall 2020




Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours: TR 12:30-1:45 p.m. and 5:00-5:30 p.m. by appointment


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. Literary works include Homer's The Odyssey (translated by Emily Wilson), Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Eliot's The Waste Land, Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition, and Carter's Nights at the Circus. Assignments include two critical approaches essays, a literary period and author project, a research project, and a career preparation portfolio. The professor and student will refine these assignments to fit an independent study. 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)

Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition

Carter, Nights at the Circus

Homer, The Odyssey (translated by Emily Wilson)

required textbooks (Amazon)

Blake, Songs of Innocence, and Songs of Experience (any print or electronic edition, such as Project Gutenberg)

Eliot, The Waste Land (any print or electronic edition, such as Project Gutenberg)

Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself (any print or electronic edition, such as Project Gutenberg)

Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy (any print or electronic edition, such as Project Gutenberg)

Larsen, Quicksand (any print or electronic edition, such as HathiTrust Digital Library)

recommended textbooks (Amazon)

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


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 papers.

literary period and author project, 20%

You will research the literary period and author of a text with a 10 source annotated bibliography and presentation.

research project, 40%

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

career preparation portfolio, 10%

You will prepare career documents such as a resume or 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 participation 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 technical issues with GeorgiaVIEW, contact the Center for Teaching and Learning for support at or 478.445.2520. We will use Zoom for online small group activities and large class chats during the scheduled class time. 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.


Our course includes three kinds of participation: making a comment or asking a question in the large class lectures and discussions conducted virtually over Zoom during the scheduled meeting time, active engagement in small group activities conducted virtually over Zoom during the scheduled meeting time, and 100-200 word posts in the GeorgiaVIEW discussion board that respond to assigned reading outside of the scheduled class time but by Sunday of the week in which the questions were posted. Each week with two meeting days, you are required to participate twice: 1-2 Zoom sessions and 0-1 discussion posts. Each week with one meeting day, you are required to participate once: either a Zoom session or a discussion post. I encourage you to participate in all the available ways. If you do not turn on your Zoom video, or if you do not fulfill the minimum participation in a given week, then your weekly participation is considered zero. You can receive two zeros without penalty. However, for each week of non-participation beyond two, you will receive a one-third letter grade deduction on your final course grade. You can check your participation 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. Assignments such as 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. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by referring to 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 five days of its due date may result in failure of the course. Failing to submit a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date may 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 and Graduate Catalog define 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 may 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 participate in 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 participate, complete their work with academic integrity, and submit assignments on time will pass the course. You can calculate your final course grade here.

Writing Center

Writing consultants will work with any student writer working on any project in any discipline. To learn more about Writing Center locations, hours, scheduling and services, please go to If you have questions about the Writing
Center, send an email to

Additional Policies

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


Course Schedule

Week 1

R, 8-13


Week 2

T, 8-18

Translation Activity

Homer, The Odyssey

Week 3

T, 8-25

Resume/Curriculum Vita Due

Career Center Appointments Due

Week 4

T, 9-1

Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy (1592)


Week 5

T, 9-8

Research Project Possibilities Due

Cover Letter/Statement of Purpose Due

Week 6

T, 9-15

Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience (1789, 1793)

Week 7

T, 9-22

Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

Week 8

T, 9-29

Research Project Conference

Eliot, The Waste Land (1922)

Week 9

T, 10-6

Research Project Annotated Bibliography Due

Week 10

T, 10-13

Larsen, Quicksand (1928)

Week 11

T, 10-20

Mock Interview Due

Week 12

T, 10-27

Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition (1970)

Week 13

T, 11-3

Career Preparation Portfolio Due

Week 14

T, 11-10

Research Project Draft Due

Week 15

T, 11-17

Carter, Nights at the Circus (1984)

Week 16

T, 11-24

Research Presentations


T, 12-1

Research Paper and Annotated Bibliography Due