Sample Course Outline

Faculty teaching English 126 have some flexibility in developing their particular sections. Still, English 126 is largely about close reading of literary texts, the integration of multiple sources into several papers, and the development of a position or argument that engages with sources.

Part I: The World Closest to Us: Families,Children and Adolescence and Lovers

In this first unit, students focus on close reading and analysis of poetry and short fiction; they draft and revise the first formal paper comparing the manner in which two works address a particular theme.

Week 1: Introductions, diagnostic essay.

  • Reading:  “Imagining the World: Poetry” (140-159) “wishes for sons”  Lucille Clifton (278); “Daystar” Rita Dove (279) “There is No Word for Goodbye”  Mary Tallmountain (277)
  • Homework Assignment: Brief autobiography of yourself as a writer. (Where have you come from? Where do you want to go as a writer?)

Week 2: Discuss form (open/close), lines, stanzas, meter, rhyme; Clifton, Dove and Tallmountain.

  • Reading: “Sonny’s Blues” James Baldwin (412-37).
  • Homework Assignment: Locate one three-four sentence paragraph describing music in “Sonny’s Blues,” and explain why you have chosen it and what it shows or tells you about Sonny and/or his brother.

Week 3: Discuss Baldwin, basic elements of fiction (point of view, character, plot, setting, etc.).

  • Reading: “Those Winter Sundays” Robert Hayden (741);“The Possessive” Sharon Olds (736); “Metaphors” Sylvia Plath (737)
  • Homework Assignment: Choose two of the poems; find one point of contrast and one point of comparison in their images and ideas about the relationships between parents and children.

Week 4: Discuss Hayden, Olds, and Plath. Assign Paper #1; in-class time to work on analysis as teams.

Paper #1 Assignment:

Write a 3-4 page paper in which you compare and contrast two poems, exploring images and ideas about the relationships between parents and children as you make these connections.

  • Reading: “The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman (553); “Everyday Use” Alice Walker (271)
  • Homework Assignment: How do you imagine the wallpaper in Gilman’s story?  What do you think it really looks like?  Be sure to quote from the story to support your description.

Week 5: Draft of Paper #1 due. Discuss peer-review techniques; thesis statements; discuss Gilman and Walker.

  • In-Class Peer Review: Provide commentary on 2 Student papers as assigned.
  • Reading: “A Doll’s House” Henrik Ibsen Acts I-II (568-90).
  • Homework Assignment: Nora seems to be planning to ask Dr. Rank for a favor in the middle of this act.  What do you think that favor is?  Why does she change her mind before asking him?

Part II:  War, Power and Death

In this second unit, students focus on analyzing the way in which a non-literary text impacts their reading of a literary text.

Week 6: Discuss elements of drama, Ibsen.  Discuss revision techniques for papers, including topic sentences and establishing sentences.

  • Final Draft of Paper #1 due
  • Reading: “A Doll’s House,” Act III (590-600).
  • Homework Assignment: In Act III, Kristine Linde says she has changed her mind and that the “dreadful secret has to be aired”. Why do you think she feels this way?  What could have changed her mind?

Week 7: Discuss Ibsen, Assign Paper #2.

Paper #2 Assignment:

Write a 4 page paper in which you discuss the impact a non-literary text has on your reading of “Everyday Use,” “Sonny's Blues, ” OR “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

  • Time in class to brainstorm possible frames for Paper #2.  Discuss integration of quotations.
  • Reading: “Dulce et Decorum Est” Wilfred Owen (471); “The Colonel” Carolyn Forché (473). “Death, be not proud” John Donne (465); “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—“ Emily Dickinson (468); “Night Funeral in Harlem” Langston Hughes (handout).

Week 8: Discuss Owen, Forché, Donne, Dickinson, and Hughes. Discuss refining thesis statements for interdisciplinary paper and writing analysis paragraphs.

  • Draft of Paper #2 due
  • Reading: “Antigone” Sophocles, Act One (474-478).
  • Homework Assignment: Identify two differences and two similarities between Antigone and her sister Ismene.  How would you describe their characters?

Week 9: Discuss Sophocles; Peer Review: Review 2 Classmates’ drafts of Paper #2

  • Reading: Complete “Antigone” (478-488).

Part III: Research and Inquiry

Week 10: Discuss Sophocles; Review of research techniques from English 125—Library catalog, databases. Evaluating sources; searching databases and Google scholar.

  • Final Draft of Paper #2 due
  • Research Skills: Locate two sources that address your research question.
  • Reading: Read and annotate the sources you have located.

Week 11: Distribute research paper assignment.

Write a research paper of 6-8 pages that you have developed out of your reading of either “A Doll’s House” or “Antigone.”  As you draft and revise your research papers, you will be using 4 sources to illuminate a particular aspect of your chosen play. For example, you might examine a question about the roles and rights of women in the era of the play.  The goal is to investigate some of the context of the work and to integrate the sources along with interpretation to address questions that arise in your reading of the work.

  • Discuss refining research questions, source usage, attribution, and avoiding plagiarism.
  • Research Exercise: Locate two-three additional sources on your research question.
  • Reading: Read and annotate the additional sources you located.
  • Homework Assignment: Discuss how two of the sources you located address your particular question.

Week 12: Oral reports: Be prepared to discuss two of your sources and how they address your question. Discuss research paper thesis statements.

  • Draft of Research Paper due
  • Reading: “A Supermarket in California” Allen Ginsberg; “In a Station of the Metro” Ezra Pound (640); “New York” Valzhyna Mort (641); “Theme for English B” Langston Hughes (642).

Week 13: Discuss Ginsberg, Pound, Mort, Hughes. Plagiarism workshop.

  • Conferences
  • Peer Review: Respond to 2 classmate’s drafts of Research Paper
  • Reading: Sample Research papers

Week 14: Final Exam review; paper revision suggestions.

  • Final Draft of Research Paper due
  • Reflective Statement

Week 15: Final Exam per Exam Schedule

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