ENGL 111 C: Composition: Literature

Meeting Time: 
MW 8:30am - 10:20am
BAG 106

Syllabus Description:

Genre Covers.jpg




Decoding Popular Genre Fiction


Required Texts (print copies are much preferred for discussion, but digital copies are acceptable):

“’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” by Harlan Ellison, 1965

“Tomorrow is Waiting” by Holli Mintzner,2011

“The Hound” by H. P. Lovecraft, 1924, Weird Tales

“The Children of the Corn” by Stephen King, 1977, Night Shift

“The Screen Test of Mike Hammer” by Mickey Spillane, 1955, Male

The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald, 1964 (ISBN 978-0449223833)

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, 1973, (excerpt)

“Seduced by a Pirate” by Eloisa James, 2013

Flint by Louis L’amour, 1960, (ISBN 0-553-25231-3

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, 1985 (excerpt)

“Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu, 2012

Various essays (approx. 7) on genre theory by John Cawelti, James Dunn, Margaret Atwood, and others.

*All of the short stories and excerpts are posted on Canvas. Hard copies of the two novels can be purchased through bookstores or online or acquired in whatever digital format you prefer. The ISBN numbers are from the editions I will be citing.


Highly Suggested Text:

Contexts for Inquiry: A Guide to Research and Writing at the UW (the smaller version, white cover, can be found in the UW bookstore)


Course Description:

This course explores a range of the most popular forms of genre fiction: SF, Horror, Crime, Romance, Westerns, and Fantasy. Often considered “low” art or dismissed as throwaway entertainment produced by the mass culture industry, their value is overlooked as reflections of a culture’s deepest beliefs, fears, aspirations, and desires. We will compare texts from early 19th century America when these genres took shape and hold them up to texts from the present day to explore the shifting representations of things such as politics, gender, sexuality and race.

By the end, student will be able to identify and analyze themes, tropes, and concerns which define the genre, reflect the culture, characterize the history of the genre, and/or appeal to a given culture or subculture.

The coursework will give you the opportunity to think about issues through writing, to discover connections or conflicts between texts and ideas, and finally to demonstrate you can meaningfully orient and create persuasive arguments in a larger social or cultural context.

While genre fiction will provide our materials, the course is "composition through literature," emphasis on the composition, and it is the where the University of Washington trains students in the basic writing skills needed to negotiate their coursework. This means discussions will focus substantially on composition strategies and the UW’s four "Outcomes" for critical writing. These strategies will help develop the content, structure and style of your writing in ways appropriate for different audiences. We will work towards an understanding of how varied rhetorical elements of composition act together to create persuasive arguments.


Course Policies

Participation and Attendance – (30%)

What does it mean to participate? Participation is intellectual work that makes a significant contribution to the life of a classroom. It is a process of working through critical concepts and problems and being able to articulate a response among a group of peers who are engaging with the same material. While I do not expect you to speak every day, our goal is to create a learning community in which everyone participates. Turning in you weekly “discussion points” homework along with class and conference attendance are essential to pass the course.


Final Portfolios – (70%)

You will complete two major assignment sequences. Each assignment sequence consists of two shorter assignments building to a major paper. You will have a chance to revise those papers using written and conferenced feedback from the instructor. At the end of the course, you will be asked to compile and submit a portfolio of your work along with a critical reflection.


The portfolio will include the following:

  • One of the two major papers (revised) for evaluation
  • Three of the short assignments (revised) for evaluation
  • A critical reflection essay that explains how the selected assignments demonstrate the four course outcomes.
  • Copy of the remaining short assignment and major paper.

A portfolio that does not include all the above will be considered "Incomplete" and will earn a grade of 0.0-0.9. The grade for complete portfolios will be based on the extent to which the pieces you select demonstrate the course outcomes.



We must meet twice during the quarter in conferences to discuss your work. These conferences give you the opportunity to get feedback about your papers/projects and to express any concerns, questions, or suggestions you might have about the course or the assignments. I will provide you with detailed instructions about how to prepare.


Late Work

Late work will not receive feedback and will diminish your participation grade.


Assignment Format / Submission Guidelines

All assignments should be typed according to MLA (Modern Language Association) guidelines. This includes: 12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1” margins, double-spacing, page numbers w/ last name, MLA style citation/Works Cited page.

CRITICAL NOTE – Name each assignment file in the following format:

[Last name]_[Assignment Title].docx


Course Website and Email:

In case of changes to the course structure (calendar, assignments, etc.), we will discuss them in class or you will be notified via email. It’s crucial that you check your UW email account often and that you use the Catalyst course website.


Writing Resources

There are two fantastic writing resources for you here on campus at UW. And I offer EXTRA CREDIT for visiting them!

Odegaard Writing and Research Center allows you to schedule tutoring sessions in advance at: http://depts.washington.edu/owrc/

CLUE Writing Center is located in Mary Gates Hall, and offers late-night drop-in tutoring. Details are here: http://depts.washington.edu/clue/dropintutor_writing.php


Further Notes on the Evaluation and Grading of Essays

A" paper explores a literary or critical issue in a manner that is both lucid and elegant. It represents an intellectual problem or critical stance, and shows how that problem or stance is best resolved. The A paper illuminates its subject in a fashion that surprises the casual reader, and calls him or her to reconsider the issue in light of the essay's claims. The A paper takes intellectual risks: its topic is challenging, and its treatment thorough and insightful. It is virtually free of errors, and it goes beyond issues that we have discussed in class, or casts new light on those issues. The thesis in A papers will be clear, complex, and immediately engaging.

A "B" paper is most characterized by good organization and depth of analysis. It makes a worthwhile point about a particular text through careful analysis. It separates the different levels of an argument, and shows how those levels underlie, support, and limit one another. It is marked by smooth transitions, close readings, and quotations from relevant passages. The argument is strong enough to withstand the most obvious opposition, and the paper responds to potential counter-arguments. The essay shows a good, strong understanding of the text. It is for the most part well written. Although there may be grammatical errors, there are none that obscure the writer's intention. The B paper does not achieve the level of elegance or the depth of insight found in the A paper, but it nevertheless represents a fine achievement.

A "C" essay demonstrates a generally good grasp of the text, and a generally workable idea, but its analysis may be weakened by problems with expression, or else it is well written but misses significant points in its interpretation, or else its articulation of the idea is too vague to be captivating. In other words, the paper's argument may be theoretically good but superficially rendered. The paper makes good points and demonstrates an understanding of the text or subject, but it is not well organized or backed up by a close examination of that subject. It tends to present summary in the place of analysis. The author may not have accounted for obvious counter-arguments. The grammar occasionally
obscures the author's intention, or interrupts reading. It shows a want of careful proofreading. Absence of a thesis will invariably keep a critical paper in the C, or more likely, the D range. The C grade is not an indictment, but it is an indication that the writer ought to revise and develop the essay more thoroughly.

A "D" essay attempts to address a reasonable subject, but lacks a sophisticated thesis (or any thesis at all). The paper thus does not have a clear point to make, and the reader will be confused about what the essay is trying to accomplish. In the absence of an organizing argument, the paper will be hard to follow in a number of places. It may entail misreadings of the text, or grammatical errors that obscure meaning. Like the C paper, it tends to present summary in the place of analysis, and it shows a want of careful proofreading.

The "F" paper does not fulfill the assignment in a reasonable or competent fashion.


Further Notes on the Evaluation and Grading of Participation

Outstanding (“A” range):

- Demonstrates excellent preparation: has analyzed texts exceptionally well, relating it to readings and other material (e.g., readings, course material, discussions, experiences, etc.).

- Comments are insightful & constructive; uses appropriate terminology. Comments balanced between general impressions, opinions & specific, thoughtful criticisms or contributions.

- Listens attentively when others present materials, perspectives, as indicated by comments that build on others’ remarks, i.e., hears what others say & contributes to the dialogue.

Proficient (“B” range):

- Demonstrates good preparation: knows texts well, has thought through implications of them.

- Offers interpretations and analysis of texts.

- Comments mostly insightful & constructive; mostly uses appropriate terminology. Occasionally comments are too general or not relevant
to the discussion.

- Mostly attentive when others present ideas, indicated by comments that reflect & build on their remarks.

Developing (“C” Range):

  • Demonstrates adequate preparation: knows basic aspect of the texts, but does not show evidence of analysis.
  • Comments are sometimes constructive, with occasional signs of insight. Student does not use appropriate terminology; comments not always relevant to the discussion.
  • Student is somewhat inattentive and unresponsive to other’s remarks.

Inadequate (Failing):

  • Student is absent and/or consistently inattentive.


Standard University Policies

Evaluation Rubric

Throughout the quarter, your papers will receive feedback to help you identify what you are doing well and what you need to improve. The following evaluation rubric will be used as part of my feedback:


Outstanding (3.7 – 4.0): Offers a very highly proficient, even memorable demonstration of the trait(s) associated with the course outcome(s), including some appropriate risk-taking and/or creativity.

Strong (3.1 – 3.6): Offers a proficient demonstration of the trait(s) associated with the course outcome(s), which could be further enhanced with revision.

Good (2.5 – 3.0): Effectively demonstrates the trait(s) associate with the course outcome(s), but less proficiently; could use revision to demonstrate more skillful and nuanced command of trait(s).

Acceptable (2.0 - 2.4): Minimally meets the basic outcome(s) requirement, but the demonstrated trait(s) are not fully realized or well-controlled and would benefit from significant revision.

Inadequate (1.0 – 1.9): Does not meet the outcome(s) requirement; the trait(s) are not adequately demonstrated and require substantial revision on multiple levels.


Academic Integrity Clause

Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else's ideas or writing as your own. I have a zero tolerance policy in this regard. I encourage you to refer to other people’s thoughts in your writing for this class—just be sure to cite them properly. We’ll go over proper citation in class, and if you have any question about how to cite or about whether you need to cite something, play it safe and cite it. Any student found to have plagiarized will be reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.


Complaints Clause

If you have concerns about the course or your instructor, please see the instructor first. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response, you may contact the Expository Writing staff in Padelford A-11: Director Candice Rai, (206) 543-2190 or any Assistant Director. If, after speaking with the Director or Assistant Directors of the EWP, you are still not satisfied with the response, you may contact English Department Chair Brian Reed, (206) 543-2690.


Accommodations Clause

If you need accommodation of any sort, please let me know so that I can work with the UW Disability Services Office (DSO) to provide what you require. More information about accommodation may be found at www.washington.edu/admin/dso/.


Outcomes for Expository Writing Program Courses


  1. To demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.
  • The writing employs style, tone, and conventions appropriate to the demands of a particular genre and situation.
  • The writer is able to demonstrate the ability to write for different audiences and contexts, both within and outside the university classroom.
  • The writing has a clear understanding of its audience, and various aspects of the writing (mode of inquiry, content, structure, appeals, tone, sentences, and word choice) address and are strategically pitched to that audience.
  • The writer articulates and assesses the effects of his or her writing choices.


  1. To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.
  • The writing demonstrates an understanding of the course texts as necessary for the purpose at hand.
  • Course texts are used in strategic, focused ways (for example: summarized, cited, applied, challenged, re-contextualized) to support the goals of the writing.
  • The writing is intertextual, meaning that a “conversation” between texts and ideas is created in support of the writer’s goals.
  • The writer is able to utilize multiple kinds of evidence gathered from various sources (primary and secondary – for example, library research, interviews, questionnaires, observations, cultural artifacts) in order to support writing goals.
  • The writing demonstrates responsible use of the MLA (or other appropriate) system of documenting sources.


  1. To produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.
  • The argument is appropriately complex, based in a claim that emerges from and explores a line of inquiry.
  • The stakes of the argument, why what is being argued matters, are articulated and persuasive.
  • The argument involves analysis, which is the close scrutiny and examination of evidence and assumptions in support of a larger set of ideas.
  • The argument is persuasive, taking into consideration counterclaims and multiple points of view as it generates its own perspective and position.
  • The argument utilizes a clear organizational strategy and effective transitions that develop its line of inquiry.


  1. To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.
  • The writing demonstrates substantial and successful revision.
  • The writing responds to substantive issues raised by the instructor and peers.
  • Errors of grammar, punctuation, and mechanics are proofread and edited so as not to interfere with reading and understanding the writing.


Catalog Description: 
Study and practice of good writing; topics derived from reading and discussing stories, poems, essays, and plays. Cannot be taken if student has already received a grade of 2.0 or higher in either ENGL 111, ENGL 121, or ENGL 131.
GE Requirements: 
English Composition (C)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
February 19, 2016 - 9:07am