Second-Year Writing

ENGL 223—2nd Year Writing Seminar: Literature, Research, Writing (7160) 

Course Description and Policies, Spring Semester 2015 


Professor: Trevor L. Hoag, Ph.D. 

Class Time: MWF 13:00 – 13:50 (1:00 PM – 1:50 PM) 

Meeting Place: McMurran Hall (MCM), #257


Course Website:


Last Year’s:  

Office: McMurran Hall (MCM), #213

Office Hours: MW (12:00-1:00)/(2:00-3:00), TR (3:00-4:00), and by appointment (Please Email Me First!)   


Textbooks and Required Materials: 

Singer, Peter, and Renata Singer. The Moral of the Story: An Anthology of Ethics through Literature. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005. Print. 


Course Description 

The Second-Year Writing Seminar enhances the critical reading and writing foundations introduced in English 123, and develops them with a focused exploration of literary and textual topics. Seminars center on the literary expertise of the course instructor in dialog with one of three core readings, such as: Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Whitman’s Song of Myself, or Borges’ The Garden of Forking Paths. Students will be required to analyze, synthesize, and present primary and secondary sources. Through a process of staged writing and revision, students will produce: a) a polished research paper and b) a formal oral presentation. Students must earn a C- or higher to satisfy University degree requirements.

The Moral(s) of the Story: As children we are often asked to explain “the moral of a story” after reading it, and this provocation often leads to our first attempts at literary criticism. For many, this call to discern the ethical/moral message of a work doesn’t stop at childhood, since narratives, poems, scriptures, myths, plays, and so on, have all been used by different cultures and peoples to pass on their ethical values to future generations. In the spirit of using literature to transmit ethical/moral ideas, this course will ask students to read poems, short stories, excerpts from plays and novels, etc., alongside (ethical/moral) philosophical texts with an eye to producing sophisticated and rigorous literary and rhetorical interpretations. For example, how do the writings of Hobbes and Nietzsche illuminate William Golding’s Lord of the Flies? Will Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World seem less uncanny after reading about utilitarianism? What about reading George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” as an animal rights advocate, or Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew as a feminist ethicist? These are the kinds of questions that will guide our ethical/moral attunement to significant literary texts. What’s more, not only can ethics enrich one’s study of literature by making one’s readings more sophisticated, but literature also provides concrete examples and testing grounds whereby one can investigate the veracity of moral arguments. Hence, the fields of literature and ethics overlap significantly and are capable of mutually influencing one another.


Coursework and Grading:

The Learning Record Online (LRO):

Reflections – 10% (A= 3%, B= 3%, C= 4%)


Artifact Paper #1 (1 Page) – 10%

(Revised) Artifact Paper #1 (1 Page) – 5%

Technological Text Analysis – 5%

Presentation with Technological Text Analysis – 10%


Artifact Paper #2 (1 Page) – 10%

(Revised) Artifact Paper #2 (1 Page) – 5%

Technological Text Analysis – 5%

Presentation with Technological Text Analysis – 10%


Artifact Paper #3 (1 Page) – 10%

(Revised) Artifact Paper #3 (1 Page) – 5%

Technological Text Analysis – 5%

Presentation with Technological Text Analysis – 10%


Note: All artifact papers are single-spaced with “zero” margins.




Major Assignments:

In this course, you will tackle the above assignments. The “container” for these assignments will be The Learning Record Online (LRO), a wiki system that allows students observe and record their learning as it occurs. This system also allows other students as well as the instructor to view student work. At three points during the semester, students are required to write a reflection on how their ethical positions are changing and why. These reflections will take the place of a writing assignment. Students will also write, revise, and post into the LRO three “artifact” papers, one of which is longer and requires scholarly research. These papers are unorthodox and challenging, so don’t be misled by the fact that they’re only one single-spaced page long! In the first half of these papers, students will summarize an ethical text from the readings (e.g., Aristotle or Nietzsche). And in the second half of these papers, students will apply the ethical text to a literary one (e.g., Twain or Shakespeare)In the final artifact paper, students are required to cite scholarly sources in the service of their summaries and analyses. Throughout the semester, students will also be introduced to (and experiment with) various technological applications in order to analyze literary texts—i.e., digital humanities—as well as present their findings to the class. Note: The professor does not foresee giving quizzes over the readings unless it is abundantly clear that no one is doing the course reading and/or contributing their observations to in-class discussion.


Letter Grades:

A:        100 — 93%                  B-:       82 — 80%                    D+: 69% — 67%

A-:       92 — 90%                    C+:      79 — 77%                    D: 66% — 63%

B+:      89 — 87%                    C:        76 — 73%                    D-: 62% — 60%

B:        86 — 83%                    C-:       72 — 70%                    F: 59% and below


Important Course Statements

Assignments: All assignments are due for LRO posting at the beginning of class. If you cannot meet a due-date, you need to contact me in advance.  Please note that artifact papers require a completed peer review and will not receive full credit without one.


Participation: Because of the content and small size of this class, participation is invaluable. Please keep up with the readings! Not only is class discussion essential to learning in this course, but we will be bored to tears if no one has read the readings and we have nothing to do but stare at each other (or I am required to pontificate for the entire class)!


Attendance: Attendance is 100% required for this course. Moreover, if you are not in class, you will likely find the material incredibly difficult when you attempt to write about it. Attendance and participation are considered when figuring grade “bumps” at the end of the course.


Close Reading: A key outcome of this course is learning to read closely. Thus, from day one, we will do the following: 1) Always write with a pen or pencil in-hand, taking notes, 2) Keep a look out for formal elements like metaphors and tone; historical elements like wars, political movements, and so on, that helped to shape the text; and lastly, cultural elements like a writer or character’s gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and so on. These three approaches, i.e., formal, historical, and cultural, will structure the discussion of class each day (as well as your Learning Record Online observations).


Disabilities: In order for a student to receive an accommodation for a disability, that disability must be on record in the Dean of Students’ Office, 3rd Floor, David Student Union (DSU). If you believe that you have a disability, please contact Dr. Kevin Hughes, Dean of Students (594-7160) to discuss your needs. Dean Hughes will provide you with the necessary documentation to give to your professors.

Students with documented disabilities are required to notify the instructor no later than the first day on which they require an accommodation (the first day of class is recommended), in private, if accommodation is needed. The instructor will provide students with disabilities with all reasonable accommodations, but students are not exempted from fulfilling the normal requirements of the course. Work completed before the student notifies the instructor of his/her disability may be counted toward the final grade at the sole discretion of the instructor.


Success: I want you to succeed in this course and at CNU. I encourage you to come see me during office hours or to schedule an appointment to discuss course content or to answer questions you have. If I become concerned about your course performance, attendance, engagement, or well-being, I will speak with you first. I also may submit a referral through our Captains Care Program. The referral will be received by the Center for Academic Success as well as other departments when appropriate (Counseling Services, Office of Student Engagement). If you are an athlete, the Athletic Academic Support Coordinator will be notified. Someone will contact you to help determine what will help you succeed. Please remember that this is a means for me to support you and help foster your success at CNU.


Academic Support: The Center for Academic Success offers free tutoring assistance for CNU students in several academic areas. Staff in the center offer individual assistance and/or workshops on various study strategies to help you perform your best in your courses. The center also houses the Alice F. Randall Writing Center. Writing consultants can help you at any stage of the writing process, from invention, to development of ideas, to polishing a final draft. The Center is not a proofreading service, but consultants can help you to recognize and find grammar and punctuation errors in your work as well as provide assistance with global tasks. Go as early in the writing process as you can, and go often!

You may drop by the Center for Academic Success to request a tutor, meet with a writing consultant, pick up a schedule of workshops, or make an appointment to talk one-on-one with a University Fellow for Student Success. The Center is located in the Trible Library, second floor, room 240.


ENGL 223 Course Schedule*



Syllabus and Introductions
 F    01/09 Set up Wiki and Learning Record Online (LRO)

Plato, “The Allegory of the Cave”

M     01/12 Aristotle, “The Proper Function of Man”


Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Unnatural Mother” pp. 57

Tech: Dipity

 F     01/16  Mark Twain, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” pp. 472

Tech: Timeline JS

LRO Part A Due




Kant, “The Good Will and Morality”


Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird” pp. 524

Tech: Tiki-Toki

 F       01/23 Geraldine Brooks, “Year of Wonders” pp. 258

Tech: Storify

M     01/26 Bentham, “The Principle of Utility”


Kate Jennings, “Moral Hazard” pp. 192

Tech: (Rap) Genius

 F      01/30  Arna Bontemps, “A Summer Tragedy” pp. 201

Tech: Pinterest






 F       02/06 Presentations


Paper 1 Due

M     02/09 Freud, “The Question of Lay Analysis”


Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey, “Puberty Blues” pp. 18

Tech: Lexipedia

 F      02/13 Daniel Defoe, “Moll Flanders”

Tech: Many Eyes/Wordsift




Foucault, “Disciplining the Body”


James Baldwin, “Giovanni’s Room” pp. 23

Tech: Wordle

 F      02/20 George Bernard Shaw, “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” pp. 155

Tech: Docuburst

M     02/23 Marx & Engels, “The Communist Manifesto”


E. Pauline Johnson, “The Sea Serpent” pp. 465

Tech: Voyeur

 F      02/27 Ursula Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” pp. 497

Tech: Word Cloud Generator

LRO Part B Due




Spring Break!


Spring Break!
 F      03/06 Spring Break!
M     03/09 Singer, “Practical Ethics”


Desmond Stuart, “The Limits of Trooghaft” pp. 405

Tech: Wolfram Alpha

 F      03/13 Douglas Adams, “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” pp. 418

Tech: Twine






 F        03/20 Presentations


Paper 2 Due

M     03/23 Kierkegaard, “A Panegyric upon Abraham”


Fydor Dostoyevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov” pp. 436


 F      03/27 Mary Shelley, “Frankenstein” pp. 442





Levinas, “Substitution”


John Fowles, “The Magus” pp. 395

Tech: piktochart, smore

 F      04/03 William Shakespeare, “Macbeth” pp. 47


M     04/06 Sartre, “Existentialism is a Humanism”


Karel Capek, “The Makropulos Secret” pp. 450

Tech: Slideshare, PowToon

 F     04/10  Aldous Huxley, “Brave New World” pp. 557

Tech: Prezi






 F    04/17 Presentations


Paper 3 Due


 M     04/20  Presentations


All Materials Due by Final Exam Period


*The instructor reserves the right to revise any portion of this syllabus throughout the semester.


Student Signature: ____________________________________________________ *

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