Lit 168: Conventions of Reading


Spring 2005

Class Schedule for Section 01 (Schmucker South 107, TR 11:00-12:15PM)

Class Schedule for Section 80 (Main 301, R 4:15-7:00PM)

I will be using Blackboard course sites for both sections.  Click here to login.

Dr. Robert Fletcher

Main 541 (enter through 540)

Hours: TR 10-11, R 7-8 and F 10-12

Phone: x2745



Course Description
LIT 168: Conventions of Reading introduces you to the study of textual genres, the critical methodologies employed in reading texts, and the practices used in writing about texts within the discipline of English.  The course fosters a self-reflexive and critical perspective as a reader, through study of theoretical reflections on why, what and how we read in the English classroom.  It also familiarizes you with the critical vocabulary and textual conventions used in discussing and writing about a variety of texts.  We will inquire into how our reading assumptions and strategies have been shaped by a variety of cultural and cognitive factors and how those assumptions and strategies in turn help to shape the texts we perceive.  We will also study how textual conventions, especially those of genre, influence our reading and writing.
Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you should be able to

  1. Quote and paraphrase texts accurately;

  2. Locate your individual responses to texts within the larger context of cultural codes and conflicts, as represented in various critical perspectives;

  3. Demonstrate knowledge of conventional interpretive practices and critical terminology through coherent critical writing;

  4. Demonstrate an awareness of the conventions of particular genres by explaining the strategies used by a writer and by employing similar strategies in your own writing;

  5. Identify the gendered, racial, ethnic, and class perspectives from which we read and write;

  6. Apply methods of reader-response criticism as well as other relevant critical approaches and conventions in a formal analysis.


Achebe, Chinua.  Things Fall Apart (Anchor)

Conrad, Joseph.  Heart of Darkness (Broadview)

Gwynn, R.S., ed.  Literature: A Pocket Anthology (Longman)

Nafisi, Azar.  Reading Lolita in Tehran (Random House)

Richter, David.  Falling into Theory: Conflicting Views on Reading Literature. 2nd ed. (Bedford/St. Martin's);  Abbreviated as FT on schedule.

Shakespeare, William.  Twelfth Night (Washington Square Press)


Plus, handouts and electronic texts either linked to the schedule or posted at Blackboard (Bb).

  1. Two formal writing assignments (see assessment rubric) done outside of class (40% of grade):
    • A literacy narrative of at least 1250 words, offering in memoir form a reflection on some episode from your own history as a reader (due week five)
    • A literary analysis of 1250-1750 words, offering a detailed reading of one or two texts (due week twelve)
  2. Six informal writing assignments posted to the Bb discussion board before class (30%):
    • A commentary on a short text in week two  (300 words)
    • An explication of a sonnet in week eight or nine (300-500 words)
    • A commentary on the cinematic or dramatic production of Twelfth Night in week eleven (300 words)
    • A summary of and commentary on one of our critical essays--to be shared in class (various dates throughout semester) (600 words)
    • A reply to a peer's summary and commentary of a critical essay (various dates) (200 words)
    • A "first response" commentary to one or more of our literary texts--to be shared in class (various dates) (300 words)
  3. Final examination, based on the methodologies, vocabulary, and readings we have studied throughout the semester (20%)
  4. Participation, which may be measured by reading quizzes and/or oral performance (10%)
  • Note that you will have an opportunity to revise one of the two formal essays by the end of the term.  The higher grade will prevail.  You must follow the revision guidelines (to be posted at Bb) for your revised paper to be eligible--no exceptions!
We at West Chester University wish to make accommodations for persons with disabilities.  Please make your needs known by contacting me and/or the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at ext. 3217.  Sufficient notice is needed in order to make the accommodations possible.  The University desires to comply with the ADA of 1990.

West Chester University’s Mission Statement says, in part, “We appreciate the diversity the members of our community bring to the campus and give fair and equitable treatment to all; acts of insensitivity or discrimination against individuals based on their race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, abilities, or religious beliefs will not be tolerated.”   In accordance with West Chester University’s commitment to diversity, I believe that everyone in my classroom should feel safe.  I have completed the University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Ally training.  In becoming an ally I made the commitment to offer a safe space for all of my students, not just those who identify as LGBT.  If you or someone you know would like to know more about this program, please feel free to see me during my office hours.

Late Assignments: Papers or other assignments submitted late will have 1/3 of a grade deducted for each day (not class period) that passes after the due date. I will not accept any assignment more than 1 week late.

Plagiarism: "Plagiarism is using another's words or ideas without appropriate acknowledgement" (MLA Style Manual 4). In formal essays, "acknowledgement" means using conventions of citation such as the quotation marks and parenthetical note in the previous sentence. Even if you paraphrase someone's words, you must provide a note showing your debt. NOTE: If you plagiarize or use commercial study aids (e.g. Cliff's Notes) in your formal essays, I will pursue disciplinary actions as outlined in West Chester policy.   We will discuss citation method in class, so ignorance will be no excuse.

Attendance: Your participation in class from week to week will affect your grade.  If, by semester's end, your absences or inability to participate in class leads to my not knowing you or the quality of your work, I will not hesitate to assign an "F" for participation, which will lower your grade in the course by a letter.  Conversely, those who attend regularly and participate in discussion enthusiastically may earn an "A" for participation (as long as quizzes are okay)  and help their class grade significantly.  You should do your best to be present and prepared for every class.  If you are absent for a medical reason, I will need to see documentation to consider it an excused absence.  If you miss too much of the semester--even with a legitimate medical excuse--I may have to ask you to withdraw.