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Course Objectives

This course is designed to help you familiarize yourself with the possibilities and pitfalls of literary study by mastering its fundamental tools. By the end of the course, you will:

  1. Use a basic literary vocabulary comfortably.
  2. Recognize the essential elements of poetry, fiction, and drama and be able to point out how those elements contribute to the effectiveness of particular literary works.
  3. Command critical approaches sufficiently well to evaluate a poem, a short story, and a drama competently.
  4. You will have enhanced your writing ability through guided practice.

All this awareness and these skills will contribute to realizing our transcendent objective: you can, through this course, learn to appreciate literature more deeply and to enjoy its many forms more intensely. Give to literature your time, your intelligent attention, your imaginative sensitivity, and it will return to you an awareness of the world around you, perhaps even a deeper understanding of yourself. This ultimate objective isn’t a guarantee, but it is a real possibility for those who seek more than three hours of humanities credit from this course.

Required Materials

Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. DiYanni, Robert. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.

A major objective of English 251 is to learn the fundamental principles of literary criticism. A good way for you to begin this course would be to check out DiYanni’s overviews of some of the most useful ways to read literature in chapter 33: “Critical Theory: Approaches to the Analysis and Interpretation of Literature”:

If you feel as tentative about reading and responding to literature as most students who enter English 251, these sections in DiYanni can provide helpful grounding in English studies. Principles explained will be built upon throughout the course; when they are particularly important to an aspect of our studies, I’ll remind you to review particular sections of DiYanni’s chapter 33.

Optional Textbook

A Handbook to Literature. Harman, William. 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2009.

This textbook, though optional, provides highly useful explanations of basic literary terms. You’ll meet many of those new terms in this course, and the Handbook defines them better than DiYanni, especially in the dozen or so cases where DiYanni does not define them at all.

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You will complete an instructor graded assignment for each of the 21 lessons. However, you will submit the assignments in portfolio units, as indicated in the lesson material. The first four lessons, for example, should be submitted not separately but at the same time in the Unit 1 Portfolio Assignment drop box after Lesson 4. You will submit six of those instructor-graded assignment units, which together will count for at least two-thirds of your grade (67%).

Since you will be judged by the written lessons you submit, be sure that these lessons represent your best efforts. Prepare and carefully proofread the lessons with an eye to accuracy and clarity. Even more important is the fullness and exactness of your ideas, particularly the supporting details you provide. So review your responses carefully and thoroughly before submitting the unit assignments.

In emergency situations you can retake a submitted unit, but only once, and you must pay a fee and establish official permission to do so. On any resubmitted assignment, you MUST provide detailed justification in the form of a paragraph for changing any assignment answers.

The multiple-choice questions may have any number of answers: none, or all, or any number between. Your response is not simply a matter of finding the best or most obvious answer, but rather determining all answers that apply. You can even turn the questions into brief essays by taking advantage of the opportunity to defend your answers.

On the essay questions I will evaluate your responses mainly for quality of insight and thoroughness of evidence. The extent that the expression of your argument aids or impedes your power to convince will, of course, be a factor in the grade.

Formatting Your Papers for Submission

You will submit your completed unit assignments electronically through BrainHoney. To make sure that I can open and read your paper, and that it retains the formatting you put into it, please save it as an Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) file. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Type your answers for each lesson in the unit into the same document in a word-processing program (such as Microsoft Word).
  2. When you save the file, click the Save as type: drop-down list.
  3. Select "PDF" (*.pdf).
  4. Use the course number, your last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, "ENGL251_Unit1Assignment_Walker.pdf."
  5. Click Save.
  6. Submit the .pdf file through the appropriate unit assignment for grading.

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The final exam, which you are allowed three hours to complete, focuses on fiction, poetry, and drama. It consists of essay and multiple-choice questions, much like the submitted units. You will find additional information on the exam in the section at the end of the course “Final Exam Preparation.”

The exam will be worth no more than a third (33%) of your final grade.

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I would like you to be able, in addition to learning as much as possible from this course, to earn as high a grade as you might like. Scoring for grades is carefully indicated in the lessons themselves. Your final grade will be based two-thirds to three-fourths on the six portfolio assignments, a fourth to as much as a third on the final exam, whichever works to your advantage.

Instructor-Graded Portfolio Assignments 67 percent
Final Exam 33 percent
Total 100 percent

Your final grade will be determined by adding the weighted percentages. Total percentages translate into grades as follows:

A 93–100% C 74–76%
A− 90–92% C− 70–73%
B+ 87–89% D+ 67–69%
B 84–86% D 64–66%
B− 80–83% D− 60–63%
C+ 77–79% E (fail) 59% and below

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Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is defined as the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work. This may also include when a student copies and pastes directly from another source and passes it off as his or her own, copies computer-generated text from a translation tool and uses it as his or her own, or fails to cite a source after loosely summarizing its content in his or her own words.

As determined by your instructor or the BYU administration, if evidence of academic misconduct on assignments or exams is established, one of the two following consequences will apply to each incidence:

First Offense of Plagiarism

Second Offense of Plagiarism

Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


6 written portfolio assignments, may be resubmitted once for a fee

Resubmit an assignment for a fee.


1 exam (multiple-choice and essay questions), may retake once for a fee, must pass the final exam to earn credit for the course

Retake an exam for a fee.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

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Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514