Instructor:                          David Owens

e-mail:                               [email protected]

Phone:                               (509) 527 - 4425

Office:                                           Main Building - D111

Office Hours:                                By Appointment


Online Peer Mentoring:      [email protected]


Required Texts and Materials(click on the link for more detailed information)


·         Anderson, M.T. – Feed (a novel)

·         Satrapi, MarjaneThe Complete Persepolis (a graphic novel)

·         Tamaki, Mariko – Skim (a graphic novel)

·         Yu, Jessica – Protagonist (a film)


Course Objectives:

At the end of the course, students should have made significant progress in

·         understanding the terms and concepts used to talk about how a piece of literature works. 

·         identifying themes in a piece of literature so that they can have a conversation with it in which they are able to separate their own ideas from those of the author.

·         appreciating that good literature goes beyond merely aesthetic or emotional considerations, and that literature can be used as a tool for understanding the world, our neighbors, those we see as our enemies, and even ourselves.

·         beginning to see that understanding how narratives are constructed can be a survival tool as we are increasingly awash in manipulative stories that attempt to hijack our perceptions of the world.

·         developing a larger appreciation for literature as a whole, or, at the very least, expanding their tastes a bit.




Weekly Quizzes

120 points

Discussion Board Forums

500 points

Synchronous Sessions

  50 points

Assignment 1: Narrative Analysis Assignment        

  50 points

Assignment 2: Literary Analysis of Persepolis

  80 points

Assignment 3: Creative Response to a Class Text

100 points  




900 points  


Some Notes:


·         Contacting the Instructor: If you have a general question about the class, your first step should be to look at the Course Forum to see if I have already answered it. If your concern isn't addressed there, post your question and I will usually respond within 24 hours. If I take too long in responding, or if it is a question of a personal nature, then feel free to contact me directly.

The best way to contact me, at any time of day, is to email me through Canvas. I check this e-mail address several times a day and, if I am in front of my computer, I am alerted when an e-mail arrives. Therefore, responses to your e-mails can sometimes be instantaneous. At any reasonable time of day, you can usually get a response from me within two hours, if it is clear that a response is called for.

·         Reading: I don't believe in setting a schedule for reading a longer work chapter by chapter, so I will expect you to have an entire novel, film or play read, watched, or listened to by the beginning of our discussion. You may then feel free to go back and re-read, re-watch or re-listen to it in part or whole during the week we discuss it.

I hope that you will find many of our texts enjoyable, but I know that you will find some of our texts challenging. I expect that you will approach all readings in this class by trying to understand each text in its own context as well as being able to productively articulate your own thoughts and feelings about it. Even if you find something boring, confusing or even offensive at first, I hope that your response will be to re-engage with it, ask questions about it, re-read it, roll it around in your head, and write about what you don't understand or what bothers you on the discussion board. When all else fails, read the text again. Even if you think you understand the text perfectly, reading it (or parts of it) will often yield different interpretations, expanded understanding, and deeper insight.

Copyright Notice: Many of the materials posted to this course site are protected by copyright law. These materials are only for the use of students enrolled in this course and only for the purposes of this course. They may not be further retained or disseminated.

·         Quizzes: We will have 9 quizzes, worth 10 to 15 points each, over the reading that is supposed to have been done by the day the quiz closes, often applying our literary concepts to them. Each quiz will open on Monday (actually Sunday) and close on Thursday at 7 pm, so you will have four days to attempt a quiz up to three times, and you will receive feedback after each attempt telling you which questions you got right and wrong. It is to your advantage to attempt the quiz early and use the Course Forum to talk about questions that are stumping you. Treat it as a learning tool and use the quizzes to help you look more deeply into the text. Quizzes cannot be made up after they are given, so please arrange your schedule so that you don't miss any.

·         Discussion Board Forums: As you can see from the point distribution above, most of your work for this class will take place on the Discussion Board. I will frequently post questions and prompts as topics on the online forum. You are expected to contribute 5 - 6 substantial paragraphs to these topics every week that we hold class. You need to respond with at least one paragraph per forum, but you may choose whether to respond directly to the prompt or to another student's post. At least one paragraph per week should respond to another student’s contribution rather than to the original prompt so that we simulate as closely as possible the magic that happens in a live classroom. I will evaluate your contribution at the end of each week and assign you up to 50 points. Part of the purpose of this exercise is to make sure you are keeping up with the reading, so you may not make up points for previous weeks by writing on a previous week’s topics and you will be penalized 5 points for failing to contribute to a forum by the time it closes, which is typically on the Saturday after it opens. 

The best responses will:

·       Contain at least 5 compound/complex sentences per paragraph

·       Contribute materially to the discussion generated by the prompt (but does not need to respond directly to the prompt)

o   This means that your contribution should be original, either by taking the prompt in a new direction or by expanding on, or disagreeing with, another student's response

·       Reflect an accurate reading of the text and make a specific reference to it

·       Be thoughtful rather than casual, perfunctory, slap-dash or merely humorous

·       Be clear, effectively worded, polite and academic

·       Attempt to use literary terms to ask questions or explain something about the text

·       Often propose another prompt or question to move the conversation forward

If you fall behind on the Discussion Board, I will allow you to write ONE make-up essay about one of our texts that can be worth up to 100 points (two weeks' worth of posts). Be warned, however, that I have higher expectations for essays than I do of forum posts, so don't count on getting the full 100 points unless you write an extremely original and exciting essay (most attempts earn less than 50%).

Please note, however, if the pattern of missed forums indicates that you have skipped one of our major texts entirely (a film, play, or novel that we have spent an entire week or more on), then you will not be able to earn higher than a B no matter how much extra credit you attempt.

Also note, plagiarism of any kind, from outside sources or from other students, will not be tolerated and will very likely result in a failing grade for the class.

·         Synchronous Sessions: Collaborate is a program designed for real-time interaction between instructors and students. I will hold at least one hour long class discussion per week on Collaborate. Participation in a session will earn you 10 points. I will try to vary the day and time so that each of you can find a way to work at least 5 into your schedule. In order to participate in the session, you will at least need to be able to listen through speakers or headphones. A headset with a microphone can be more convenient, but it isn't necessary.

If you are not able to participate in as many sessions as you would like, you can earn 5 points by listening to recordings of each session that I will post in the “Collaborate Session Recordings” Module. This will also be important because lecture materials from the sessions might show up in quizzes. Unfortunately, Canvas does not tell me when you listen to a recording, so you’ll need to post the secret phrase to the session assignment drop box to get credit for it.

The synchronous sessions are a fairly essential part of the class, and I hope you will find them valuable enough to participate beyond this 50 point obligation even if it is only by listening to the recordings. However, in order to encourage you to do at least that much, I have made earning at least 50 points through the Collaborate sessions a requirement for getting an A in the class. You'll need at least 50% in Collaborate to earn a B or better.

It is important to know that Collaborate is a java application that pops up in a new window. In order to run it successfully, you will need to make sure that your java software is updated and that you can set your browser to allow some pop-ups if it tends to block or filter them automatically. By the end of week 2, the schedule for all future Collaborate Sessions can be found in three places: The Canvas Calendar (not the Schedule Overview), the Blackboard Collaborate page, and a module located just below the Syllabus module called “Collaborate Session Recordings.” Currently, all links to future recordings will link you directly to the Blackboard Collaborate page. Once I have recorded that session, that link will move to the left and the link will take you directly to the recording.

·         Narrative Analysis: The purpose of this exercise is to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to engage more analytically with one of the assigned readings by demonstrating a more sophisticated understanding of concepts like point of view, character and theme.

·         Literary Analysis of a Chapter of Persepolis: Satrapi's Persepolis is separated into many little self-contained chapters, each with its own themes and concerns. The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate your understanding of literary terms and concepts by writing about the theme of a particular chapter while explaining how that theme is expressed through a close reading, utilizing literary terms wherever appropriate.

·         Creative Response to a Class Text: This will be your final project for this class. The response can take almost any form imaginable as long as it can be represented or reproduced in digital form (a series of photographs, for example): short story, essay, power point, collage, photography, poetry, etc. You will submit this along with a written explanation of what part of our texts inspired you, what idea you were attempting to represent, and your evaluation of how you think it turned out. Your concept will count for considerably more than your execution, but you will be marked down for an obvious lack of effort. I am open to group work on this assignment.

·         Submitting AssignmentsMost of your interaction with the class will happen on the Discussion Board so that other students can see what you are doing, get inspired by it, think about it, and respond to it. However, if you are having technical difficulties uploading assignments to Canvas, you may submit any written assignments by e-mailing them to me at [email protected]

·         EvaluationYour final grade will be calculated as a straight ratio of points earned to points possible and translated into a letter grade based on a fairly generous scale. I have already weighed the grades by giving them a specific point value, so there is no tricky math involved, and whatever the Canvas grade book says on any given day will pretty accurately reflect your actual grade in the class.

For the most part, I try to be very specific about my expectations for class work. If you feel confused about why you have a particular grade on any given assignment, or at any point during the quarter, please feel free to e-mail me about it. Here are some more specifics about how I grade the Discussion Boards:

·         I am looking for at least 5 solid paragraphs per week (Monday to Friday) from each student, spread throughout the different forums. All of the sentences in your paragraph should be compound or complex and vigorously explore the text (none being introductory or filler - they are allowed, I just don't count them). A paragraph like this will earn you 10 points (no matter how many points the forum is worth, which is determined by the number of forums there are that week).

·         Notice that in some weeks there will be fewer than five forums, so you will want to contribute multiple paragraphs to at least one of the forums. For example, if you only contribute one paragraph per forum, and there are only 4 forums, you have only earned 40 points for the week, so, to get your full points for the week, you will want to write at least two paragraphs for two of the forums. Doing even more than that will ensure that you get full credit - just in case some of your sentences are not really about the text or are too short.

·         I also tend to favor full paragraphs over several short replies to other people's posts. It is fine that you reply, just make your reply a fully developed paragraph or you may not earn full points for it. So, for example, you may write 8 short replies consisting of 2 or 3 sentences a piece, but that would still only earn you the same 10 (or perhaps 15) points as if you had written a full paragraph response to one post. Saying essentially the same thing in every response will also not count as much as a full and original response.

·         Finally, I have asked that students post to every forum. By not posting to a forum, you are essentially telling me that you have not read the text, which is like being absent, and is definitely not participating in the class. I will deduct 5 points for each forum you fail to post to. This could really add up if you miss a whole week with 5 forums in it (-25 points).

Hopefully, setting the bar this low will encourage people to contribute because they are interested rather than because they are forced to.

 I would like to say that I will update your overall grade every week, but I don't think I will be able to fulfill that promise. However, I should be able to update your grades every other week. It will actually be fairly easy for industrious students to earn the maximum points each week by attending extra Collaborate sessions and contributing well over the minimum on the Discussion Boards, but I will not grant more than 100% at given any point in the quarter. You may do extra work to make up for lapses during previous weeks (up to a point), but I won't grant extra credit over 100% in advance so that students feel like they can slack off at the end of the quarter.