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ENGLISH 2RW6B Reading & Writing Criticisms

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Cathy Grisé


Office: Chester New Hall 325

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23510

Office Hours: Thursdays 12:30-1:30pm

Course Objectives:


This course will offer a grounding in reading literary and cultural texts from a range 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. Importantly, this course—which takes place in an active learning classroom—emphasizes student engagement and participation as key to learning. Conduct all readings and homework prior to the class and to your tutorials, and come prepared to explore these texts with others in the class. You don’t need to be an expert or to understand everything in the texts, but you do need to be a thoughtful, engaged participant!  We will be working together (in groups, in tutorials, and as a class) to understand the texts and contexts, build our frames of references, and discuss key concepts and ideas.

Winter Term Frameworks: Power, Ideology, and Identity - Feminism, Marxism, and Poststructuralism/ Deconstruction

Course Objectives

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 (of about 8-10 students) that will also take turns leading class explorations 

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


• 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.

• The required texts are listed on the syllabus and our Avenue to Learn site. These texts include: uploaded documents to Avenue, McMaster Library online texts, and other online texts.  


Method of Assessment:


  • Tutorial Work: 15%
    • Weekly assessment through term: Attendance and Participation, and Tutorial Assignments, as specified by Tutorial Leader.
    • Expectations as outlined by Tutorial Leader.
  • Active Learning Classroom Work: 15%
    • Weekly assessment through term: Attendance and Participation, and Group and In-Class Work, as specified by Instructor and Senior TA.
    • Students are expected to attend all lectures, practise active listening, use electronic devices for academic not social purposes in class, and participate on a regular basis in class discussions.
    • Students are expected to contribute meaningfully to group and assignments/ activities, to take turns in group roles, and follow other expectations outlined in class.
  • Weekly Online Submissions: 10%
    • 1-2 short written submissions per week, due before lecture (called “homework” below)
    • We will count 10 out of 12 weekly submissions
  • Writing Project: 15%
    • Proposal due week of Feb. 12, 5%. Will be discussed in class – please bring a copy.
    • Final project, week of Mar. 26, 10%. More information will be provided in class.
  • Essay: 20%
    • First draft/ outline: 2-3 pages, due at the start of lecture Mar. 19 for essay workshop
    • Final draft: 1,500 words, due in tutorial week of Mar. 19, 2018
  • Exam: 25%
    • Registrar-scheduled, in exam period  

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Assignments 

Extensions must be approved before the due date. Late assignments will be deducted two percent per day (including Saturdays and Sundays).

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:

SCHEDULE: WINTER TERM (Jan. 4-Apr. 2018)

Links to readings available on Avenue - Content

Jan. 8               Introduction; Marxism Overview

Reading: Barry, pp. 156-71; homework assigned on Avenue

Jan. 15             Marxism Subfields 

Reading: Selden, Chapter 5: Schools of Marxism, pp 82-102; homework assigned on Avenue


Jan. 22             Marxist Theorists

Reading: Williams, “Culture is Ordinary” and Althusser in Rivkin and Ryan, pp. 693-702; homework assigned on Avenue

Jan. 29             Feminism Overview

Reading: Bressler, Chapter 7: Feminism; homework assigned on Avenue

Feb. 5               Feminism Subfields

Reading: Tyson, Chapter 4: Feminism, excerpts, pp. 91-120; homework assigned on Avenue


Feb. 12             Project Week in-class

Homework assigned on Avenue

            *Writing Project proposal due in class

Feb. 19-23 – Reading Week

Feb. 26             Feminist Theorists

Reading: Rivkin and Ryan: Irigaray, Spivak, Lorde; homework assigned on Avenue

Mar. 5              Post-Structuralist Overview

Reading: Castle, Structuralism (pp. 181-90),                 

Poststructuralism (pp. 154-62); homework assigned on Avenue

Mar. 12            Essay Workshop in class

Homework assigned on Avenue

            *Essay draft/outline due

Mar. 19            Post-structuralist subfields

Reading: Selden, Chapter 7: Poststructuralist Theories pp. 144-98); homework assigned on Avenue

            *Essay due

Mar. 26            Post-structuralist Theorists

Reading: Castle or Rivkin and Ryan: Cixous/ Kristeva, Deleuze and Guattari; homework assigned on Avenue

*Writing Project Due

Apr. 2               Conclusions and review

Homework assigned on Avenue