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English 222: Literary Genres

Section F301, Spring 2018

3 Credits / 3 Hours

Tues. and Thurs., 3:30-4:45pm

Welcome to English 222: Literary Genres. The course description is as follows:

Literary forms and genres and the critical methods appropriate to their study. Analysis of major representative texts and exploration of central themes.

This course is divided into five sections, each focusing on a particular genre and a literary purpose I believe this genre exemplifies.  In order to get a sense of how a genre has evolved over time, we will frequently be analyzing very early and very late iterations, sometimes dipping in and out of major moments along the way.  For example, when we study poetry, we will begin with the Biblical Song of Songs, continue through late-sixteenth- and seventeenth-century seduction “poesy,” examine some empire-conscious nineteenth-century Romantic verse, and conclude with several modernist poems.  I hope this will provide you with a rich sense of the evolution of these literary genres and I very much look forward to reading and analyzing these texts with you.

Course Goals and Objectives

  • Develop a critical understanding of generic conventions as well as the ways in which these texts adhere to and divert from those conventions

  • Assess these texts in light of dominant historical, cultural, and aesthetic trends

  • Hone skills of close reading, literary analysis, and critical argumentation

  • Discover the pleasure of reading these texts

Required Materials

  • Toni Morrison, Beloved. ISBN-13: 978-1400033416

  • Marjane Satrapi, The Complete Persepolis. ISBN-13: 978-0375714832

  • You will also be required to print out and annotate all other assigned readings, which will be posted on Blackboard

Recommended Materials and Resources

  • Purdue University Online Writing Lab (MLA Style Guide):

  • Google Scholar:

  • William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition). ISBN-13: 978-0205309023


You may bring laptops in order to take notes but no cell phones, headphones, or portable music players.

Attendance and Punctuality

Attendance is mandatory.  Only three absences and three times arriving late (more than ten minutes) will be excused.  Each additional unexcused absence will result in half a letter grade dropped. (Two lates equal one unexcused absence).  Six unexcused absences will result in a failing grade.  If you know you will be late or absent, please email me.

Policy on Plagiarism

You must do your own work and be sure to cite sources for any ideas, words and phrases, or thought that are not your own and not common knowledge.  Plagiarism often occurs because students do not allow enough time to complete their assignments or because they feel their work will not be good enough.  If you are having trouble finishing an assignment by the due date, please speak with me instead of cheating.  And in this class, if you challenge yourself and make a solid effort, you will be fine: your own work is good enough.  If you turn in work that is not your own, you will fail the assignment and possibly the entire course.  All instances of plagiarism will be reported to the English Department Chair and Office of Student Affairs.  Note that college penalties for this can be as severe as expulsion from the college.  Please use common sense and if you are ever in doubt, ask me first and before your assignment is due.

CUNY defines plagiarism as follows:

Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own.  The following are some examples of plagiarism, but by no means is it an exhaustive list:

Copying another person’s actual words without the use of quotation marks and footnotes attributing the words to their sourcePresenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without acknowledging the sourceUsing information that is not common knowledge without acknowledging the sourceFailing to acknowledge collaborators on homework and laboratory assignments

Internet Plagiarism includes submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers, paraphrasing or copying information from the internet without citing the source, and “cutting & pasting” from various sources without proper attribution.


Assignments must be emailed to by 11:59pm on the day on which they are due.  Assignments not handed in at all will be given failing grades.  Talk to me if you are having a serious problem completing the work, and we will work out a plan that is agreeable to us both.  Incomplete or late assignments will lose half a letter grade per day.  This means that if you submit an A paper that is due on Monday on Wednesday, you will receive a B.

Archival Object: 25 points

Comments: 5 points

Close Readings: 20 points each (40 points total)

Participation: 30 points

Total: 100 points

Grading Scale: 94-100 = A; 90-93 = A-; 87-89 = B+; 83-86 = B; 80-82 = B-; 77-79 = C+; 73-76 = C

Classroom Participation

This is a discussion-based course, not a lecture-based one.  Participation is very important and includes completing the assigned readings, turning your papers in on time, and being prepared to speak thoughtfully on whatever reading(s) we are discussing for the day.  There will also be no toleration of deliberately racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or ableist language.  I use the word deliberately because we all have gaps in knowledge and experience and part of the purpose of a college education is assisting each other in filling in those gaps.  Therefore, I encourage respectful debate when your peers or I have said something that is hurtful, insensitive, or ignorant.


Archival Object: Once during the semester, you will be asked to find an object or text in an online archive—including the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections and the Schomburg Center’s In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience—and write a 1000-word essay about the relevance of that historical object or text to an assigned reading.  These essays will be posted to the CUNY Academic Commons and I will expect you to read and comment on your peers’ work.

Close Readings: Two times this semester, you will be required to write a 1000-word close reading essay on an assigned text.  Details on each assignment, including prompts, will be handed out two weeks prior to each essay’s due date.

You will turn in first and final drafts, but you are welcome to submit multiple drafts for comments before each assignment is due.

Accommodating Disabilities

Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students.  Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Office of Student Disability Services.  For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238, phone number (718) 960-8441.

Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects individuals from discrimination based on sex in any educational program receiving federal financial assistance.  Sexual harassment, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX, and is considered a Civil Rights offense.  Lehman College encourages anyone experiencing harassment, discrimination or sexual misconduct to talk to a faculty member, counselor, or staff; confidential resources are available through the Lehman Counseling Center at (718) 960-8761.

Classmate Contacts


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Reading and Assignment Schedule

Section One: The Novel

Literature as an Expression of Community, Part 1: Non-Citizenship

Thursday, 2/1: Aphra Behn, Oroonoko (1688)

Tuesday, 2/6: Behn, Oroonoko (cont’d)

Thursday, 2/8: Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

Tuesday, 2/13: Morrison, Beloved (cont’d)

Thursday, 2/15: Morrison, Beloved (cont’d)

Tuesday, 2/20: Classes Follow a Monday Schedule

Thursday, 2/22: Morrison, Beloved (cont’d)

Sunday, 2/25: First Draft of First Archival Object Due

Tuesday, 2/27: Morrison, Beloved (cont’d)

Thursday, 3/1: Morrison, Beloved (cont’d)

Sunday, 3/4: Final Draft of First Archival Object Due

Tuesday, 3/6: Morrison, Beloved (cont’d)

Section Two: The Short Story

Literature as an Expression of Community, Part 2: Citizenship

Thursday, 3/8: Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” (1387-1400)

Tuesday, 3/13: James Joyce, “The Sisters” (1904/1914)

Thursday, 3/15: Joyce, “Eveline” (1904/1914)

Section Three: Drama

Literature as an Expression of Intimacy

Tuesday, 3/20: Aristophanes, Lysistrata (411 BCE)

Thursday, 3/22: Aristophanes, Lysistrata (cont’d)

Sunday, 3/25: First Draft of First Close Reading Essay Due

Tuesday, 3/27: Harold Pinter, Betrayal (1978)

Thursday, 3/29: Pinter, Betrayal (cont’d)

Sunday, 4/8: Final Draft of First Close Reading Essay Due

Section Four: Poetry

Literature as an Expression of Politics

Tuesday, 4/10: Anonymous, The Song of Songs (c.500 BCE)

Thursday, 4/12: Edmund Spenser, “Like as a Huntsman” (1595); Christopher Marlowe, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” (1599); John Donne, “The Sunne Rising” (1633); Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress” (c.1650s)

Tuesday, 4/17: Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias” (1818); Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden” (1899)

Thursday, 4/19: Claude McKay, “Old England” (1912); T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men” (1925)

Section Five: Life Writing

Literature as Self-Expression

Tuesday, 4/24: Samuel Pepys, from The Diary of Samuel Pepys (1660-9)

Thursday, 4/26: Roxane Gay, from Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (2017)

Tuesday, 5/1: Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (2000)

Thursday, 5/3: Satrapi, Persepolis (cont’d)

Sunday, 5/6: First Draft of Second Close Reading Due

Tuesday, 5/8: Satrapi, Persepolis (cont’d)

Thursday, 5/10: Satrapi, Persepolis (cont’d)

Sunday, 5/13: Final Draft of Second Close Reading Due

Tuesday, 5/15: Satrapi, Persepolis (cont’d)