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Syllabus English 355 #13983 - fall 2023 WRiting About Literature

Instructor Information

Instructional Materials

Textbook-Bring to each class session!

Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 9th ed. Compact Literature
rent a textbook info
Kirszner & Mandell
Wadsworth Cengage Learning



MAUS II: A Survivor's Tale: and Here My Troubles Began
rent a textbook info
Art Spiegelman
Pantheon Books




The Stable Boy of Auschwitz
Oster & Ford
Grand Central Publishing



Some of our textbooks are available for rent at the campus bookstore for apx. half cost of used price and less than half cost of new price. Just click on image above.


Additional Materials

Never throw anything away that you do for this class. Save everything!!

  1. CSUN Data Network Account. which gives you access to email, library resources, and enables you to post on our web page onto the CSUN server. You can set up your account at one of the computers in the library and at other labs around campus.
  2. Electronic devices recommended not as distractions but for writing, internet research pertinent to the course.


Engl. Dept. Grading Scale (only):Grades are not negotiated. They are earned!

CSUN Policy & Procedures

Standards of Student Conduct

My Classroom Policies


Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of the class, students will be able to:

  1. Use logical support, including informed opinion and fact, as well as their interpretations, to develop ideas, avoiding fallacies, biased language and inappropriate tone (distinguish between fact and inference, develop inferences, recognize denotative and connotative language, evaluate diction),
  2. Read and write about texts in various genres and on a number of levels, including literal comprehension, aesthetic responsiveness, informed awareness of the traditions, and of the varied critical perspectives within which they may be interpreted,
  3. Demonstrate a usable knowledge of literary theory and apply it to the analysis literary texts,
  4. Base compositions upon the reading, understanding, and critical analysis of literature,
  5. Apply a variety of strategies for planning, outlining, drafting, revising, and peer editing written work
  6. Limit the topic appropriately,
  7. Create a unifying thesis or a controlling purpose,
  8. Select examples, details, and other evidence to support or validate the thesis,
  9. Use detail, example, and evidence to develop and elaborate on subtopics,
  10. Achieve coherence,
  11. Select and incorporate ideas derived from a variety of sources, such as library electronic and print resources, books, journals, the Internet, and document them responsibly and correctly using the elements of MLA presentation (including layout, format and printing),
  12. Demonstrate satisfactory competence in the conventions of edited American English.

Course Information Overview

Course Description

Preparatory: Completion of the lower-division writing requirement and 2 lower-division English courses. Intensive study of the literary genres of poetry, prose fiction, and drama. Emphasis on written analysis of selected works in each genre. Development of criteria for responsible judgment.

English 355 (Writing About Literature) is designed to teach English majors the way professionals examine and respond to literature; you will learn the tools and techniques necessary for success in upper division literature courses.

Thus, we will focus on close reading skills, learning to recognize specific literary devices and then analyze and interpret how they form and affect our understanding of the work. We will mine the genres of poetry, prose fiction, and drama and will respond by practicing the skill of writing clearly and intuitively. We will also develop strong researching skills, learning how to evaluate the sources we have found and then fitting ourselves into the conversation on the topic we are researching.



Specific areas of concentration, and aspects by which you will be graded, are as follows:


Projects of any kind online/due in class: All work must be submitted in a timely manner for credit. Late work is not accepted.


Two to Three 3-4 page essays (excluding the Works Cited page) will focus on a specific prompt geared to analyzing a particular genre.


One 4-5 page essay (excluding Works Cited page) will capture the main point of a critical essay read and discussed in class then argue for or against this viewpoint by bringing in fresh evidence from the assigned text as support.


You will write one longer paper (6-7 pages, excluding Works Cited page) that will compare/contrast two short stories, from a specific list, incorporating critical theory and individual research.

Learning Resource Writing Center click here!

LRC visits are strongly recommended for all major essays this semester.

Extra Credit will be given with proof of attendance for each essay!

The writing center is located in the Oviatt Library 3rd floor east wing and graduate students or instructor are available to assist you with various steps in the writing process such as brainstorming, revising and editing. You may call for an appointment: (818) 677-2033. You can also attend online by accessing LRC online !!

Presentation: 10%

PRESENTATIONS of 15 minutes in length (present 10 min leave time for questions 5 min) --by selected groups of 1-2 students in charge of presenting an assigned short story/poem/whole text/play. See Projects above.

Participation: 15%


SHORTWRITES-A short write is exactly what it sounds like – a short piece of writing. For this class, unless otherwise indicated, out-of-class short writes should be 1-2 pages, typed, double spaced, stapled (if in hard copy), 12-point font, and will be accepted only on the assigned due date. Short Writes should indicate active engagement with the assigned text rather than summary. You should always be prepared to discuss your short write in class even if you have posted it online in Canvas.

Short writes should follow the conventions of Standard Written English and adhere to MLA style and should have a clear position with logical explanation and support. Missed short writes can not be made up.


Unannounced quizzes on the readings are always a possibility, especially if the readings are not being kept up with by classmembers. Come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings and you will be prepared for all quizzes. Quizzes missed due to absence cannot be made up. No quiz grades will be dropped.


Written responses to oral presentations.


On-line tasks such as postings in Canvas assignments or on email are to be completed as assigned.

CLASS PARTICIPATION will also be based on:

1. Since a significant part of this class will be based on active student participation in class discussion, and/or assigned presentations, it is essential that students attend class regularly, ask questions, and offer their impressions, ideas and opinions for classroom dialogue. In order to participate effectively, students must come prepared.

2. You are assessed on how your interact with your peers OR me during class IN-PERSON/ on Zoom/on Canvas via class discussion, individual presentations, email, discussion posts, and group work of any kind. Arriving late and/or leaving class of any mode early and/or not participating in online tasks during/subsequent to class constitutes as an absence and any work submitted online under these conditions will not be accepted.

3. Reading Assignments--You are expected to do all conscientiously and in a timely fashion.The reading assignments are to be done by the day due. "I have not been able to purchase my textbook yet" is NOT an acceptible excuse. You are required to participate in the discussions and you cannot do so if you have not read the assignment. In order to earn full participation credit, students will need to participate every time class meets.

4. Assignments are due on the date stated on the syllabus during the class period. A computer problem is not an excuse for a late paper. Do your work early in the week so that you're not late to class because you're uploading at the last minute. Keep extra copies on duplicate flash drives or CDs, OR better yet, email your papers to yourself.

5. Make sure your name, my name, our course & session number, and the date, per MLA format, with 1 inch margins all around, left justified, is on "everything" you turn in.

6. You are responsible for obtaining assignments when you miss class either from accessing them from our course syllabus page/Canvas OR asking your classmates for a copy. I am not a delivery service.