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ENGLISH 2RW6A Reading & Writing Criticism (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2019

Term: Multiterm

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Cathy Grisé


Office: Chester New Hall 325

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23510

Office Hours: CNH/325,Tuesdays 2-3 pm and by appointment

Course Objectives:


This course will offer a grounding in reading literary and cultural texts from a selection of contemporary critical approaches. Special attention will be paid to writing skills and developing sustained analytical arguments about literature and culture. Students will be introduced to literary and cultural theory and learn how to apply theoretical approaches and key concepts to the development of arguments about literary and cultural texts in their own essay writing. This course has a reading- and writing-intensive curriculum designed to prepare students for advanced studies in the English and Cultural Studies Program.


Active Learning Methodology

This is not a lecture-style course. This course—which takes place in an active learning classroom—emphasizes student engagement and participation as key to learning. Students will spend class time workshopping specific skills, practicing their writing, and engaging in active learning activities. If you are unable to come to class please contact a student from your table or tutorial to find out the work missed. If you have to miss more than one class please contact the Senior Tutor and your TA to discuss making up the work missed so you do not fall behind.


Expectations and Goals

By the end of this course, successful students will be able to:

• Explain, both orally and in writing, key terms and concepts introduced in the course

• Identify critical frameworks or lenses and evaluate their usefulness as well as their limits

• Analyze course materials by demonstrating the relationship between the theory and the literary or cultural texts

• Create clear, persuasive, well-supported arguments about literary, cultural, and critical/theoretical texts

• Edit and revise their own work

• Work collaboratively in small groups

· Understand and produce successfully the selected writing and reading skills in their academic work – more information will be provided on Avenue

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Materials

  1. Hawkes Composition Textbook and Online Courseware: ISBN 978-1-946158-27-7 (Available at the bookstore)
  2. We will be using the Top Hat ( classroom response system in class and for some short homework assignments. You will be able to submit answers to in-class questions using Apple or Android smartphones and tablets, laptops, or through text message.
  3. Additional readings (e.g., stories and poems) will be available in class and on Avenue.
  4. In order to connect to the classroom electronic pods in the active learning classroom (ALC), you will need an HDMI adapter for your computer. You can purchase this device at the Campus Store or most electronics stores.

Method of Assessment:

  1. Active Learning in-class work, weekly: 20% (includes Top Hat contributions and in-class participation)
  2. Tutorial in-class work, weekly: 15%(Tutorial leaders will provide more details in their tutorial syllabi, available in tutorial)
  3. Hawkes Composition Assignments, fortnightly: 20%
  4. Essay Challenges, in-class writing assignments: 10%
    1. Term 1: Oct. 1, Nov. 5, Dec. 3 (best 2/3 marks will count)
    2. Term 2: Jan 28, Mar. 3, Mar. 31 (best 2/3 marks will count)
  5. Major writing assignments: 35%
    1. Short writing assignments, due in tutorial (500 words each) - best 2/3, 10%; due weeks of Oct. 21-25, Nov. 18-22, and Jan. 13-17
    2. Term 2: Essay writing assignments
      1. First draft, due in tutorial week of Feb. 10-14 (1500 words), 10%
      2. Second draft, due in tutorial week of Mar. 16-20 (2500 words), 15%
  6. There is no final exam for this course – instead you will be submitting a number of smaller assignments throughout the course and working on a number of in-class activities and assignments. If you fall behind or can’t attend class regularly please email your instructor and Senior TA so they can help you make a plan to catch up on your missed work.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Assignments Policy

Extensions must be approved before the due date. Late assignments will be deducted two percent per day (including Saturdays and Sundays). Students with SAS accommodations that include extra time on assignments are encouraged to contact their TA ahead of a deadline so that the instructional team can assist them as necessary. Homework assignments and in-class work may be accepted after the deadline for part marks (or under extenuating circumstances the late penalty may be waived) – please see your instructor/Senior TA or your TA accordingly. SAS accommodations never allow for students not to attend class regularly; if you are unable to attend more than two classes in the row please contact your SAS advisor and request assistance for this situation.

Students who submit an MSAF for a major assignment may take a week’s extension – please contact your TA to discuss these arrangements.

Assignment Review and Grade Inquiries

Students must allow 24 hours after graded assignments are returned before approaching their TA with queries about their grade. Instructors and TAs are available to discuss grades only during office hours or by appointment; graded assignments will not be discussed via email. If you are unsure why you received a particular grade, read the comments over carefully and review the assignment details. If you are still unsure or would like clarification or tips for improving on your next assignment, please meet with your TA to discuss the grade. If students would like to request a change to their grade, they must provide their TA with a written explanation outlining why they believe a higher grade is warranted, and be prepared to leave this with their TA for her/his consideration. If, after discussing the matter with their TA, an agreement cannot be reached, students can then make an appointment with both the TA and instructor together to discuss the circumstances. Please note that requests for a reevaluation of assignment grades may result in a lower grade than was originally assigned if the instructor deems this warranted. Disputes regarding grades will only be considered if students are able to present the original marked copy of the class work. For this reason, students should retain all pieces of work submitted and graded during the term. They should also retain a copy of any outlines, drafts and research notes in case of academic integrity concerns.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Primary Texts and Theoretical Schools

Term I

Literary/Cultural Texts

ŸUnit 1 - Indigenous Texts and Contexts

ŸUnit 2 – Supernatural Short Texts (tentative list)

    • 2.a Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven"
    • 2.b Nnedi Okorafor, “The Key”“Hello Moto”

Ÿ Unit 3 – Lyric Poetry (tentative list)

Theory Readings

ŸUnit 1 – Indigenous Criticism and Theories

    • 1.d Robinson, Dylan, Kanonhsyonne Janice C. Hill, Armand Garnet Ruffo, Selena Couture, and Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen, “Rethinking the Practice and Performance of Indigenous Land Acknowledgement.” Canadian Theatre Review 177 (2019): 20–30. Canadian Theatre Review. Web.
    • 1.e Justice, Daniel Heath, “Introduction: Stories That Wound, Stories That Heal,” Why Indigenous Literatures Matter. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2018.

ŸUnit 2 – Formalism and Structuralism

    • 2.c Formalism and Structuralism, Blackwell Guide to Literary Criticism, pp. 181-190
    • 2.d Rivkin and Ryan, selections from “Structuralism, Linguistics, and Neonatalogies,” pp. 53-124: Culler, Saussure, and Barthes.

ŸUnit 3 - Poststructuralism

    • 3.d Bressler, “From Structuralism to Poststructuralism,” pp. 105-122
    • 3.e Rivkin and Ryan, Derrida, Kristeva extracts
    • 3.f Jacques Derrida, “Structure, Sign, and Play”


Term II

Literary/Cultural Texts

Unit 4 – Novel Study

  • 4.a Lawrence Durrell, Justine(from the Alexandria Quartet)

Unit 5 – Novel Study continued and film

  • 5.a Justine continued
  • 5.b “The Color of Beauty” NFB short film

Unit 6 -Novel Study and film continued

  • 6.a Justine continued
  • 6.b “The Color of Beauty” NFB short film
  • 6.c “True North,” NFB series, selections

Theory Readings

ŸUnit 4 - Marxism

    • 4.b Barry, “Marxism”
    • 4.c Raymond Williams, “Culture is Ordinary”

ŸUnit 5 – Feminism

    • 5.c Tyson, “Feminism”
    • 5.d Rivkin and Ryan, “Luce Irigaray” and “Audre Lorde”

ŸUnit 6 – Critical Race Studies

    • 6.d Selden, “Spivak”
    • 6.e Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Selections from Critical Race Theory: An introduction. Vol. 20. NYU Press, 2017.



Weekly Schedule


Term 1


Unit 1: Asking Good Questions: Indigenous Texts and Contexts, Indigenous Criticism and Theories (see text list above pp. 2-3)


Topics and Texts

Week 1 – Sept. 3-6

Introduction to course, Indigenous poetry introduction (1.c)

Week 2 – Sept. 9-13

Readings: McMaster’s Land Acknowledgement: theory and practice (1.a, 1.d)

Hawkes Composition: Parts of Speech, 9.1-2

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Parsing the Land Acknowedgement

Week 3 – Sept. 16-20

Readings: Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Women’s poetry (1.e, 1.c)

Hawkes Composition: Reading Critically, 5.1-4

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Choose poem and write summary

Week 4 – Sept. 23-27

Readings: Theory and Practice - Indigenous Women’s Poetry (1.b, 1.c)

Hawkes Composition: Writing Critically, 1.1-1.3

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Write poem response and share with group

Week 5 – Sept. 30-Oct. 4


Readings: Prep for Essay Challenge, review unit

Hawkes Composition: None, review unit

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Essay Challenge – Reading and Writing Strategies with Indigenous Theory and Poetry


Unit 2: Analyzing and ArgumentsSupernatural Short Texts and Formalism and Structuralism (see text list above pp. 2-3)


Topics and Texts

Week 6 – Oct. 7-11


Readings: Formalism and Structuralism – introduction and timeline (2.c); Introduction to Supernatural Stories (2.a, 2.b)

Hawkes Composition: Writing: Argue, Analyze, Evaluate, 1.7-9

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Assignment #1 preparation

Reading Week



Week 7 – Oct. 21-25


Readings: Formalism and Structuralism – key terms and figures (2.d)

Hawkes Composition: none

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Assignment #1 due in tutorial

Tutorial: Peer review workshop

Week 8 – Oct. 28-Nov. 1


Readings: Theory and Practice - Poem construction and analyzing structures - unit readings continued (2.a-b)

Hawkes Composition: Pre-Writing and Commas, 3.1, 9.3


Week 9 – Nov. 4-8



Readings: Prep for Essay Challenge, review unit

Hawkes Composition: None, review unit

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Essay Challenge –Short Story Analysis and Pre-Writing Strategies

Tutorial: Hawkes Composition: Essay Introductions and Thesis Statements: 4.2-3



Unit 3: Developing and Evaluating an Argument: Poststructuralism andLyric Poetry (see text list above pp. 2-3)


Topics and Texts

Week 10 – Nov. 11-15


Readings:Postructuralism – introduction and timeline (3.d), Lyric Poems introduction (3.a-c)

Hawkes Composition: Essay Components, 4.4-6

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: close reading

Tutorial: Assignment #2 prep

Week 11 – Nov. 18-22


Readings:Postructuralism – key terms and figures (3.e), poems (3.a-c)

Hawkes Composition: None

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Assignment #2 due in tutorial

Tutorial: Binaries and Deconstruction activity

Week 12 – Nov. 25-29


Readings: Theory and Practice - Encountering Derrida (3.f), poems (3.a-c)

Hawkes Composition: Punctuation, 9.4-5

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: analyzing a poem, applying theory to text

Tutorial: Assignment 2 workshop in tutorial: from pre-writing to outlining

Week 13 – Dec. 2-4



Readings: Prep for Essay Challenge, review unit

Hawkes Composition: None, review unit

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Essay Challenge – Poetry Analysis and Essay Outlining



Term 2


Unit 4: Researching and Proposing: Marxism andNovel Study (see text list above pp. 2-3)


Topics and Texts

Week 1 – Jan. 6-10


Readings: Marxism introduction and timeline (4.b), introduction to novel study (4.a)

Hawkes Composition: Research, Chapter 7 (complete over break), Purpose1.4

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: MLA format, using quotations

Tutorial: Assignment #3 prep

Week 2 – Jan. 13-17


Readings: Marxism – key terms and figures (4.b), novel study (4.a)

Hawkes Composition: none

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Assignment #3 due in tutorial

Tutorial: Proposal and Bibliography peer review workshop

Week 3 – Jan. 20-24


Readings: Theory and Practice - Raymond Williams (4.c), novel study (4.a)

Hawkes Composition: Drafting and Revision, 3.2-3

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: novel analysis, applying theory to text

Week 4 – Jan. 27-31



Readings: Prep for Essay Challenge, review unit

Hawkes Composition: None, review unit

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Essay Challenge – Outline and draft



Unit 5: Rethinking and Revising: Feminism and Novel Study continued and film (see text list above pp. 2-3)


Topics and Texts

Week 5 – Feb. 3-7


Readings: Feminism – overview and timeline (5.c). film study introduction (6.b)

Hawkes Composition: Ch. 10.1 and 10.6, 5.10 Analyzing Visuals

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: film study analysis

Tutorial: Assignment #4 prep

Week 6 – Feb. 10-14


Readings: Feminism – key terms and figures (5.c), continuing novel and film (6.a-b)

Hawkes Composition: none

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES:Assignment #4 due in tutorial – first draft of essay

Reading Week



Week 7 – Feb. 24-28


Readings: Theory and Practice - Feminism examples (5.d), continuing novel and film (6.a-b)

Hawkes Composition: Editing and Revisions, 3.4-5

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: close reading and writing

Week 8 – Mar. 2-6



Readings: Prep for Essay Challenge, review unit

Hawkes Composition: None, review unit

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Essay Challenge – outline and draft

Tutorial: Assignment #4/5 editing and peer review session



Unit 6: Editing and Other Perspectives: Critical Race Studies andNovel Study and film continued (see text list above pp. 2-3)


Topics and Texts



Week 9 – Mar. 9-13


Readings: Critical Race Studies– overview and timeline (6.e), texts study (6.a-)c

Hawkes Composition: Final Draft, 3.6; Proofing for Grammar, 10.9


Tutorial: Assignment #5 prep

Week 10 – Mar. 16-20


Readings: Critical Race Studies key terms and figures, 6.e; novels and films continued 6.a-c

Hawkes Composition: none

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Assignment #5 due in tutorial – second draft of essay

Week 11 – Mar. 23-27


Readings: Theory and Practice - Critical Race examples, 6.d and e

Hawkes Composition: Chapter 10.5 and 10.8


Tutorial: Post-writing activities, Assignment #5

Week 12 – Mar. 30-Apr. 3



Readings: Prep for Essay Challenge, review unit

Hawkes Composition: None, review unit

  • ASSIGNMENTS/ ACTIVITIES: Essay Challenge – outline and draft

Week 13 – Apr. 6-7


Reflection and Review




Other Course Information:

Attendance and Participation

Success in the course depends on consistent attendance at lectures and tutorials. Active Learning classrooms are different from traditional classrooms and require different teaching and learning practices. You will find that you will fall behind quickly if you are not attending class. Please alert your TA if you have some absences: while they cannot teach you the material again, they can help you strategize ways to catch up. In the larger group setting, it is particularly important that everyone observe rules of common courtesy. Contributions to discussion must be based on course material. Comments should always be collegial and respectful of others in the class.


Electronic Devices

Laptops and phone may be used only for the purposes of note-taking and class-work—the use of electronic devices in class and tutorials for non-course related purposes may result in lower participation grades.