I realize this syllabus is lengthy in content, but please read it in its entirety before beginning lesson 1. Pay attention to the course document downloads because you will be using these documents throughout the course.
ENGL 251 (Fundamentals of Literary Interpretation and Criticism) or ENGL 252 (Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism).
The following books are required for this course. Please obtain these titles before starting the first lesson:
There is a written assignment submitted for grading in each lesson. Each lesson will include documents that you can download and use to complete the lesson assignments (all course documents are also available in the Appendix). Your Portfolio Assignment in lesson 13, which includes your cumulative course projects, is divided into the following components: the author/genre study (600 points), the final book log (500 points), and the potential reading log (100 points).
Online assignment submissions are required. You will submit your assignments by attaching your documents and submitting them for grading. Please include your name, course name, and lesson number in each assignment at the top of the page. I want to see well organized assignments.
Remember to submit your assignments as Microsoft Word .DOC or .DOCX files. Name the file using this style—be sure to use your own name: ENGL420_JaneSmith_WritingAssignment1.docx.
You will submit your final essay assignment through Turnitin, a website that lets you (and your instructor) check your work for originality, see which grade level your writing matches, and so on. This tool lets you review your work to avoid plagiarism and improve your writing, as well as see your instructor’s feedback on your work. You will not be allowed to resubmit this assignment.
To submit your final essay assignment,
To see your grade on this assignment, click the Grades link at the top of the course screen.
To see your instructor's feedback on your assignment,
Instead of taking a traditional final exam, you will be submitting a set of final essays. The first section will consist of one essay question. This question will ask you to synthesize all your experiences with this course. The second section will offer five options of essay questions, and you must select and answer two of them. The final essay is worth 10% of your final grade.
Grades for each lesson will be based on the total number of points accumulated in that lesson. Lessons 1 through 12 will be worth 200 points each (a possible total of 2,400 points, which is 60% of your grade). Your Portfolio Assignment, which includes your cumulative course projects, will be worth 1,200 points (which is 30% of your grade).
Your grade for the course will be based on the total number of points you have accumulated: up to 3,500 points for the lessons and 400 points for your final essay (which is 10% of your grade). The possible total is 4,000 points.
The following is a breakdown of the points and percentages for the various assignments in this course:
|Lesson Assignment||Total Number of Points||Percentage of Final Grade|
The percentage scale of total points I’ll use to determine your grade for individual lessons and for your final grade is as follows:
|E (fail)||59 and below|
As this course requires a significant amount of reading, writing, and creating, unless you are a speed-reader it is most likely that you will not be able to complete this course in a short amount of time. If you can read one book a day and complete a lesson every other day, then you can expect to finish this course in about a month. For most people, it will take longer. In addition, as noted, you should “not submit more than three instructor-graded assignments at a time.” If you are working under any deadlines that require you to have a final grade for this course posted by a certain date, be sure to make deadlines for yourself to help you keep up with the material. If you have such a deadline, please ensure that all lessons and your final essay are complete at least three weeks prior to that date. The process of submission, grading, and response takes time and no exceptions can be made; working well in advance of any deadline will ensure that there are no errors or problems that prevent you from having your grades posted when you need them to be.
This is a literature course and you will be reading a lot. Because of this you should be continually reading throughout the course. While it will be necessary to complete some readings for certain lessons, other readings will not need to be completed until you are ready to turn in the last lesson. Each lesson will instruct you as to what readings are required for that lesson. During the lesson you will be asked to report on some of your reading. Other exercises will ask you to engage in certain activities related to any of the readings you are doing for this course. The more you read, the more options you will have to complete the lesson assignments, so reading at a steady pace will be very important as you progress though the course. In addition, since some readings will not be used for any specific Lesson Exercises but will only be reported on in the last lesson as you finish the course, it is important to keep reading. It will also be important to keep yourself organized so you can meet all the reading benchmarks. Some of your cumulative course assignments should help you do this, but you should also use whatever processes you need to ensure that you keep up a steady pace and don’t leave all your reading until the last minute.
In this course lessons build on one another and several of the topics we discuss span several lessons. Because of this it is very important that you complete the lessons in numerical order as outlined. Skipping around will only cause confusion and make some lesson material incomprehensible.
Each lesson will consist of a variety of exercises. Please complete all the exercises for an entire lesson before submitting it. Submitting a lesson with only one or a few of the exercises completed will result in a reduced grade, since the missing exercises will be given no points.
Throughout this course I will provide you with a variety of links to websites that should enhance your learning. While every effort has been made to ensure these links are active, the nature of the web is such that the stability of links is not always under our control. If you find that a weblink is no longer active, use an internet search engine to find another link, and please report the problem by adding a note at the end of any lesson submission. In addition, the inclusion of these weblinks in this course does not indicate any endorsement by any organization associated with this course or of a particular site. These sites are just suggestions, and you may choose those sites that best suit your needs and interests.
The following information is included to help you as you work through the course. You will find information about each major course assignment including grading rubrics for each written assignment and a section on sources for research and finding more information that will help you in your writing assignments.
All of the assignments in this course require one or a combination of four skills: thinking, reading, writing, and creating. Each lesson will contain specific assignments and exercises that you must complete as you work though that lesson; however, there are four assignments that will be integrated into the entire course. These are:
This is a literature course and as such will require a great deal of reading. There are three types of reading required for this course: 1) textbooks, 2) supplemental sources, and 3) independent choice reading.
To guide you in book selection you may use:
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask for help in selecting titles. The instructor can assist you, any good librarian at a school or public library can help you, and even sometimes the staff at bookstores can help you.
Book selection is entirely up to you; however, you must follow these required guidelines as you select your 34 independent choice readings.
The following statements are caveats to help you select books. While the above four statements are required, and your grade will fall if you do not follow those guidelines, the below statements are just strong suggestions that you may choose to follow or not, depending upon your interests.
In addition to the guidelines outlined above, here are the numbers of required books in each genre and format category:
|Genre and Format||Required Number||Due Date|
|Defining Classics||2||One completed for Lesson 1 / Remainder completed by end of course|
|Award-Winning Titles||2||One completed for Lesson 2 / Remainder completed by end of course|
|Novel to Pair With a Classic Work||1||One completed for Lesson 3 / Remainder completed by end of course|
|Novel to Use Outside an English Class||1|
|Novel for a Reluctant Reader||1|
|Censored Titles||2||One completed for Lesson 4 / Remainder completed by end of course|
|Contemporary Realistic Fiction:|
|Theme One: Romance||1||One completed for Lesson 5 / Remainder completed by end of course|
|Theme Two: Sports||1|
|Theme Three: Self-Selection||1|
|Adventure||1||One completed for Lesson 6 / Remainder completed by end of course|
|Science Fiction||1||One completed for Lesson 7 / Remainder completed by end of course|
|Historical Fiction||2||One completed for Lesson 8 / Remainder completed by end of course|
|Biography||2||Two completed for Lesson 9|
|Nonfiction/Informational Book||3||Two completed for Lesson 10 / Remainder completed by end of course|
|Poetry||1||Two completed for Lesson 11 / Remainder completed by end of course|
|Graphic Novel||1||One completed for Lesson 12|
|Picture Book||1||One completed for Lesson 12|
|Works for Your Author or Genre Study||4||All completed for Your Portfolio Assignment|
Throughout the course you will keep a potential reading log. This log serves two purposes:
This log will be a constantly changing file. To help you get started, a file with the required genres and formats is included in the Course Documents folder in the Appendix called the Potential Reading Log. (Note: The Potential Reading Log, and all other course documents, are available in the Course Documents folder in the Appendix). However, if you feel another style or format would better serve you for this log, please feel free not to use this example and to create a file in whatever form best serves your needs. No matter what your log looks like, every time you come across a book (either in your textbook, in your additional reading, as you explore websites, or as you get recommendations from the instructor or friends), put the title, author, and the book’s genre or format category in your potential reading log. You can then use bold, italics, or other formatting (or you can even add comments to each title), to help mark titles you are especially interested in or the ones you finally read. When you need to read a book in a specific category for a particular lesson, or to fulfill the independent reading requirements, you can then check your log and find all the great titles you were interested in. This log will be turned in when you complete the course so it is very important that you keep it up to date as you work though each lesson. This is not the kind of thing you can fill out at the last minute, so you should take some time before, during, or after each lesson to add, delete, and prioritize all the books you want to read. While your logs will most likely be much longer by the end of the course, here is a brief example of what one might look like:
|Defining Classics (Required 2)||
The Contender by Robert Lipsyte (textbook / read this for lesson 1)
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt (online)
Something by Laurie Halse Anderson (teacher recommendation—some of her books could also be contemporary realistic?)
Ironman by chris Crutcher (this looked good at first but after reading a review I'm not sure I want to read it)
Self-Selection (Required 1)
Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande (textbook—this sounds really funny / read for lesson 3)
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (this could be a romance novel too? Maybe read it for that—moved this to romance and read it)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (online)
Names and titles of books are listed. Bold titles indicate ones that were read. Strike-though titles indicate ones that were “discarded” from the list. Items in parentheses list comments, such as where the student found the book in the first place, or issues that are important to remember.
The file of your completed potential reading log will be turned in with your Portfolio Assignment.
For each of the 34 books you read for this class you will make an entry in your final book log. This log serves two purposes:
For each book you read, you will put an entry into your log. This means that your log will have 34 entries. Each entry must include:
For the award-winning books you are also required to state what award(s) they won. For the Novel to Pair With a Classic Work, you are also required to state the title of the classic you would pair it with. For the Novel to Use Outside an English Class, you are also required to state the subject in which you would use the title (i.e., science, math, history, art, etc.). Here is an example of what an entry in the final book log will look like:
TITLE: The Hollow
AUTHOR: Verday, Jessica
ILLUSTRATOR: not applicable
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
SUMMARY: A ghost story with connections to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I liked the premise, but in the end there were too many plot elements and the author did not do justice to any of them. At the end there were sudden revelations that left lots of plot elements and character resolutions hanging. Ultimately, it was unsatisfying because it relies on a sequel by leaving too many unanswered questions.
To help you get started, a file with the required genres and formats is included in the Appendix. However, if you feel another style or format would better serve you for this log, please feel free not to use this example, and instead create a file in whatever form best serves your needs. The file of your completed final book log will be turned in with your Portfolio Assignment. The file Final Reading Log is located in the Course Documents folder in the appendix.
As part of your final portfolio for this class you will complete an author or genre study that will revolve around four books. All of these four books will either be by the same author or of the same genre. If you choose to do a genre study, I suggest you select a subgenre within a larger genre. So, for example, instead of picking science fiction you could pick dystopian novels or steampunk; or, instead of picking romance you could pick paranormal romance with vampires. After reading these four books, you will write an 8–12 page paper. This paper will contain four sections:
Your 8–12 double-spaced page author or genre study will be turned in for your Portfolio Assignment. Halfway through the course, in Lesson 7, I will ask you to report on the name of the author or the genre you are doing. I will also ask for the titles of the four books you are going to be using. While you will not have to have read the books by then, you will have to note which ones they are. After this point, if you change your mind and wish to use another author or genre, you must get my approval. You can do this by noting the change at the end of any lesson that you submit.
Since I do not want to limit the authors or genres you can use by giving you an example of what a paper might look like, I hope these instructions have served to help you understand this project. If they have not, please ask any questions you may have at the end of any lesson you submit. You may also look in any web search engine under “Author Study” or “Genre Study,” where you will find many lesson plans and thoughts about these types of studies. While many of these will not be focused on college-level courses or will include other projects than a written paper, these examples may help you to get a better idea of what you can do for this project.
We will be doing a variety of exercises during this course. Each type of exercise will be specially discussed in each lesson. However, there are four general topics that will be important to a great majority of the exercises, so we will discuss those here.
There is no pre-imposed length for any assignment in the lessons. You may make your response as long or as short as you need to. Just remember long responses are not always better. If you are rambling, repeating yourself, going outside the topic, or trying to cover too many points, the responses will not be good. Also, remember that short responses are not always better either. If you don’t cover points in depth, don’t cover important details, or don’t answer the questions, then the responses will not be good. Take as much time as you need to sufficiently answer the questions. For most assignments that call for you to answer in-depth questions, the average response should be about half a page (single spaced) to no more than about a page.
This is an upper-division literature class and as such high levels of critical thinking are required. As we discuss and write about books you will be asked to demonstrate how you are able to connect concepts learned in the textbooks and independent choice readings to your own ideas and experiences; this shows me that you are reading in new ways and that you are thinking like a critical, culturally aware reader who can get past the obvious and apply new concepts in interesting ways. You will be expected to read and talk about books more like a literary critic than a lay reader.
Many think of children’s books or young adult books as lesser and somehow unworthy of enjoyment by anyone but the young, or even as books undeserving of scholarly study. Both of these statements are patently untrue. Young adult books can be enjoyed by a variety of people and age groups. Just like books written for adults, children’s and young adult books run the gamut from the very poorly written to the extremely well written, to the very popular and the not very popular. So, just like adult books, these titles are very worthy of scholarly study. Because I feel strongly that young adult books are worthy of both enjoyment and scholarship, I will expect you to respect not only the books that we read but also the main audience to which these books are addressed. I expect that all of your work will be free of generalizations, biases, and stereotypes. I also expect that you will act sensitively towards adolescents, including their joys and troubles. You should always show that you are competent, human, and open in your relationships and communication with teens and with the books that they read.
Young adult literature covers a wide variety of topics that are important to teens. Some of these topics or the ways that authors address them can make adults feel uncomfortable. Because of the nature of the genre, there may come a time when you encounter a book that takes you out of your comfort zone. If and when you encounter one of these books, I first ask that you keep an open mind. Not everyone is going to have the same experience with a book and not everyone is going to share the exact same moral code. You must be respectful of others’ positions and ideas, especially when they do not coincide with your own. Authors of young adult books strive to tell the very best stories for teens, and while you may not always agree with the stories they tell you have to know that they are trying to represent the world and the people in it with honesty and integrity. I have yet to meet a young adult author who set out to write a book that would corrupt today’s youth. While you may not agree with the authors’ stance, it is their perspective and no matter how rough it is they do have a right to write what they feel needs to be written. You, however, have the right not to read it. No matter the book, I will expect that you will discuss your feelings honestly. However, if these feelings cannot be expressed with integrity, with sensitivity, and with respect for the books and for the teen audience to which they are addressed, or if they cannot be expressed without generalizations, biases, or stereotypes – – please select another book to read and discuss. The field of adolescent literature is vast and there is something out there for everyone of every moral code. Since you are able to select your own books please select those that you can confidently write about.
As you write also remember that depth is better than breadth. I would much rather you discuss one point in detail then try to cover all points. I will also expect that you will write with clarity and confidence. I realize that we may not always agree on things, and my stance as a teacher of literature is that everyone’s opinion is valid. However, I will expect that you will back up your opinion with facts.
With this said, the following are elements of book analysis that are unacceptable in this class:
The following rubric will be used as a general guideline to grade all written exercises in this course:
Throughout this course we will be informing our study of adolescent literature with a variety of information from a number of sources. Since this is an independent study course not everyone will have the same access. Here I will describe the various sources where you may find information. Not all of these will be applicable for every person or for every assignment. When I do not give you specific instruction in the assignment, you may choose whatever sources you like. However, I encourage you to try as many different sources as possible. I realize that some of this may be out of your comfort zone, but please try to take the time to discover some new avenues to getting great information. The skills you build in this area will help you to access information better for all other areas of your life.
We will be exploring a number of books in this course. You have been asked to read 34 young adult books. You may also find that books that talk about young adult literature or give critical analyses of works may also be helpful. You can access books from a variety of locations:
Scholarly information comes from an academic source in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. These sources include journals and scholarly documents.
You can access scholarly information from three main sources:
You can also use the Internet to find great information. To find information on the web use any search engine that you feel comfortable with. Please be aware as you do this that anybody can put anything they want on the Internet. Because of this, information on the web can be inaccurate, biased, or of very poor quality. If you do not feel confident about the best way to evaluate Internet information, please type “evaluating Internet information” into a web search engine and you will see lots of great websites from libraries that will give you instructions on how to critically evaluate information. While there is lots of great information on the web that I will encourage you to use, please be aware that for this class I expect that you will use the very best, most accurate, and unbiased information for your studies. I encourage you to use only the best information, but if you choose to use poor information make sure that it has the proper context and that you recognize the bias or inaccuracy in your exercises. I expect the best in this area and uses of poor information or misrepresentation of information will affect your grade.
This is all the introductory material for this course. Before you begin the course, you should now be aware of:
I hope you have studied this material carefully as you will be held responsible for the information and requirements outlined here. If you have any concerns, please review the material. If you have any questions, please submit them by email or include them with your first lesson.
Now welcome to the wonderful world of young adult literature…
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14 written assignments, 13 may be resubmitted for a fee; the Final Essay Assignment may not be resubmitted.
There are no exams for this course. You will complete a final essay assignment at the end of the course, may not retake, must pass to earn credit for the course.
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.
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.
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Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah 84602-1514