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ENGLISH 1G03 Making&Unmaking Literary Trdtn (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2020

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Mary Silcox


Office: Chester New Hall 330

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27314

Office Hours: Mondays 3:30-4:30PM, Wednesdays 3:30-4:30PM; or by appointment

Course Objectives:


This introductory course explores literature written in English from the perspective of literary historical periods, genres, and critical approaches. Our goal is a broad understanding of the different forms literature took over the centuries and a closer acquaintance with representative works written from the Middle Ages through to the twentieth century.We will trace how a literary text is an expression of a particular cultural moment, with all its social and material preoccupations, and yet makes meaning through a complex dialogue with past traditions. The course functions as an introduction to the study of literature, equipping students with conceptual, analytical, and writing tools that will help them become informed readers of the many modes and manners of imaginative expression. Considerable emphasis will be placed on the development of critical skills in reading and writing.



This course aims to:

  • familiarize you with the history of  writing in English in several genres (romance, lyric poetry, drama, satire, the novel, and the short story), and to explore how and why writers have been reworking inherited forms
  • introduce you to key historical and social contexts for literature of different periods
  • develop your skills at close textual analysis, encouraging you to read slowly, for detail and nuance
  • provide a toolbox of technical critical terms that will help you understand and explain how literature works
  • investigate some influential theoretical frameworks for literary study (e.g. feminist, reader response)
  • give you the opportunity to improve your writing skills, by offering guidance in the art of writing clear, well-argued, and well-supported analyses and arguments



  • Your instructors and TAs are dedicated to providing an excellent learning environment for you in this course. In return, we expect a high level of commitment and work from you. You are responsible for your learning and are expected to participate actively in this course: it is through the collaboration of your instructor, your TAs, your fellow students, and you that the course operates effectively. There is no “textbook” that supplies all the answers for this course: humanities courses value the classroom as a space of transformative learning for students. Plan to attend all lectures and tutorials so that you will be appropriately prepared for your assignments and exams. Here are some tips for how to succeed in this course:
  • TAs and instructors do not supply lecture and tutorial notes: you are responsible for attending class and making notes. If you are unable to attend a class, ask a fellow student for notes.
  •  Materials for your final exam are made up of the course lectures, tutorials, your notes, and all the course readings.
  • As you do your assigned readings, take notes about the content, write down your observations about themes and other ideas presented, and make note of any questions or comments that you can bring to your tutorials for discussion.
  •  In tutorials you are expected to participate actively in class discussions: using your reading notes, asking questions, making comments, and working in groups and pairs in class as required.
  • Do not start your essays the night before! Take the time to do a good job. The best essays are the result of careful revision. Consult with your TA in advance for advice about your thesis statement and/or an essay outline to make sure that you are on the right track.
  • If you are having problems in this course, talk with your TA and/or Dr. Silcox. Be aware, too, that academic advisors in your faculty office are available to help.
  • We assume that each of us learns in different ways, and that the organization of any course will accommodate each student differently. Please talk to Dr. Silcox and to your TA as soon as you can about your individual learning needs, including any Student Accessibility Services arrangements, and how we can work together in this course to best accommodate you. Even if you do not have a documented disability, we are always glad to consult about your learning processes and to help you identify resources on campus; useful supports include the English and Cultural Studies Departmental Writing Tutors as well as McMaster’s Student Success Centre, which provides academic skills support for all students.
  • Works should be read before the lecture

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


The Broadview English 1G03 Custom Text

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 3rd ed. Edited by D. L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf (Broadview)

First Year English and Cultural Studies Handbook. This handbook, prepared by the Department of English and Cultural Studies, is available on-line at no cost:

This handbook contains crucial information on essay writing, documentation, and how to avoid plagiarism. You should read over this handbook before the end of January.

A very useful guide to writing well is available free of charge online at The Nature of Writing.

Method of Assessment:


Diagnostic essay, 300-500 words, due in tutorial the week of Jan. 22-28:                 10%

Weekly reflective writing due in tutorial:                                                                   20%

Discussion questions & groups:                                                                                  6%

Close reading worksheets:                                                                                          4%

Tutorial participation & assignments:                                                                          5%

Lecture participation:                                                                                                  5%

Close reading analysis, 1000 words, due in tutorial the week of March 18-24:         25%

Final Exam in April:                                                                                                    25%

All essays are due at the beginning of your tutorial in the relevant week indicated above. If your essay is handed in after this time (including any time after the tutorial has begun) it will be docked one grade-point a day. For example, if an essay is worth a B+, but was handed in a day late, it will be given a B; two days, a B-; three days, a C+; and so on up to seven days. Saturdays and Sundays count as working days. This means: start working on your essay as soon as you receive your assignment description so you can hand it in on time.

Please consult the First Year English and Cultural Studies Handbook, available online from the departmental website, for further information about your assignments, including the required format for the bibliography and quotations.



Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work

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 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:


(Please consult the Tutorial Schedule and Activities sheet for smaller assignments due in tutorials)

Jan. 6, 8 – Introduction to course

Jan. 13, 15, 20 – Medieval romance: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Week of Jan. 22-28 – Diagnostic writing essay due in tutorial

Jan. 22, 27, 29, Feb. 3 – Renaissance love sonnets and lyric poetry: Edmund Spenser, “Coming to kiss her lips” #64; Richard Barnfield, “Here, hold this glove” #14; Michael Drayton, “Truce, gentle love” # 63; William Shakespeare, “Shall I compare thee” #18, “My mistress’ eyes” #130; Lady Mary Wroth, “Am I thus conquered?” #14; Ben Jonson, “On My First Son”; John Donne, “The Sun Rising,” “Death be not proud,” Holy Sonnet 10; Andrew Marvell, “To his Coy Mistress”

Feb. 5, 10, 12 – Renaissance drama: Christopher Marlowe, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus

Feb. 17-21 – Reading Week

Feb. 24, 26 – Eighteenth-century satire: Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal; Thomas Gray, “Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat”; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, “Verses Addressed to the Imitator of the First Satire of the Second Book of Horace”

Mar. 2, 4, 9 – Romantic poetry: William Blake, “The Lamb,” “The Tiger,” “London”; William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed on Westminster Bridge,” “The world is too much with us”; John Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale,” “To Autumn”

Mar. 11, 16, 18, 23 – Nineteenth-century novel: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Week of March 18-24 – Close reading analysis due in tutorial

Mar. 25, 30, Apr. 1, 6 – Early 20th-century short story: W. W. Jacobs "The Monkey's Paw," James Joyce "The Boarding House," William Faulkner "A Rose for Emily," Rudy Wiebe "Where is the Voice Coming From?"