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ENGLISH 2RW6B Reading & Writing Criticism (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2020

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Cathy Grisé


Office: Chester New Hall 325

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23510

Office Hours: Tuesdays 2;00-3:00PM; or 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 in August

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Materials

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:

Method of Evaluation

  1. Active Learning in-class work, weekly: 20% (includes Top Hat contributions and in-class participation)
  2. Tutorial in-class work, weekly: 20% (Tutorial leaders will provide more details in their tutorial syllabi, available in tutorial)
  3. Hawkes Composition Assignments, weekly: 10%
  4. Essay Challenges, in-class writing assignments (best 4/5): 10%
    • Term 1: Sept. 24, Oct. 22, Nov. 19
    • Term 2: Fe 4, Mar. 3
  5. Major writing assignments (best 3/4): 30%
    • Term 1, due in tutorial: week of Oct. 8 (500 words), week of Nov. 12 (750 words)
    • Term 2, due in tutorial: week of  Jan. 28 (1500 words) and week of Fe 25 (2500 words)
  6. Final exam, exam period: 10%

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

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.

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:

Term II

Literary/Cultural Texts

“The Color of Beauty” NFB short film

“True North,” NFB series, selections

Novel study – to be selected in October

Theory Readings

  • Unit C - Marxism

o Barry, “Marxism”

o Raymond Williams, “Culture is Ordinary”

  • Unit D – Feminism

o Tyson, “Feminism”

o Rivkin and Ryan, “Luce Irigaray” and “Audre Lorde”