ENGL 374 A: The Language Of Literature

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
CDH 105
Colette Moore
Colette Moore

Syllabus Description:

Engl 374: Language in Literature


Prof. Moore

office: Padelford A-2-A

office hours: MW 2:30–3:30



I.  Course Description

What makes literary writing powerful, beautiful, affecting, influential, exciting, or insightful? In this class we will examine how authors use language to create different effects and investigate the ways that literary texts structure and use language. Employing tools from linguistics and stylistics, we will analyze aspects of literary texts: sound, meter, lexicon, discourse structure, style, pragmatic strategies, varieties of English, and narrative orientation. Texts will be drawn from several literary genres: fiction, poetry, and drama. Over the term, we will develop and use this linguistic “toolbox” to construct sophisticated perspectives and arguments about literary texts. Course assignments will include several short writing assignments, quizzes, and a larger, independent final paper.


 II. Texts

Mick Short, Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose (Learning About Language)

Brian Friel, Translations

coursepack, available at Rams Copy, 4144 University Way NE


III. Work Commitments

i. Discussion board

   The course canvas website will have a discussion forum for you to practice writing skills in an informal setting. Every week, one half of the class will post a brief paragraph to the discussion page (by midnight on the Friday of the week), and the other half of the class will post a few sentences in response (by midnight on Sunday night). You will post three contributions and three responses over the term.

ii. Short assignments (2 pages)

Three short writing assignments will be due to Canvas. These are designed to allow you to develop your skills in textual analysis. They should be about two pages in length (doublespaced, Times or Times New Roman, 12 pt. font).

iii. Quizzes

Several quizzes will help you to assess your comprehension of course material. You may refer to your notes, but not to any published material during the quizzes. Four quizzes will be administered over the course of the term, of which you must take three. If you choose to take all four, the lowest grade will be dropped. No make-up quizzes will be permitted. Quizzes will usually be given in the beginning of class, so be sure to arrive to class on time.

iv. Final Paper/Project (5-6 pages)

Learning how to analyze and interpret texts constitutes the most important work that we do in this course. The final course paper will be an analysis of a text of your choosing. Further information on the papers will be provided.

v. Class participation

Class participation is an important part of your engagement with course material and essential to creating intellectual community. Students are expected to be present, punctual, and ready to discuss the assigned material. I will often request a brief in-class writing exercise. These will not be strictly graded, but used as a general assessment of your presence and your engagement with the readings.


IV. Grades

Grades will be determined as follows:




Canvas discussion board


short assignments




final paper



V. Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of presenting another’s work as your own. It is important that you do not use material from the web without citing it properly in your papers. The University of Washington takes plagiarism very seriously. For more information, see the University’s policies at: <http://depts.washington.edu/grading/conduct/honesty.html>. Infractions will result in a grade of ‘X’ and be referred to the Dean's Representative for Academic Conduct.


VI. Policy on Electronics

Electronic devices can be a great boon to your education, and we will employ them as tools for research and as communication aids throughout the term. During class, however, laptops, cell phones, and e-readers can be distracting (both for you and for your classmates), and can interfere with the conversation. Please leave all electronic devices in your bag during class.


VII. Disabilities

If you have a documented disability that requires special accommodations, please let me know as soon as possible so that necessary arrangements can be made.


VIII. Contact Me

I will be happy to address brief questions over email (cvmoore@uw.edu). If you have more involved questions, I will be glad to speak to you in office hours or by appointment.


IX.  Schedule

Week 1: Introduction

READINGS: Short, chapter 1

Jan. 4 class meeting: beginnings

Jan. 6 Discussion group A post

Jan. 8 Discussion group B response


Week 2: Syntax: constructing literary style

READINGS: Barthelme, “Critique de la Vie Quotidienne”; Joyce, “A Boarding House”; Short, chs 11 and 9.

Jan. 9 class meeting: syntax and style

Jan. 11 class meeting: syntax and style

Jan. 13 Discussion group B post

Jan. 15 Discussion group A response


Week 3: Diction and Lexicon: the building blocks of literature

READINGS: Gordimer, "City Lovers." Short, chapter 2.

Jan. 16 no class (MLK Day)

Jan. 18 class meeting: diction and lexicon

Jan. 20 short assignment #1 due


Week 4: The sound of poetry

READINGS: Carroll, "Jabberwocky"; Dove, “Parsley”; Auden, “The Wanderer”; Anonymous, “The Wanderer” (with translation by Benjamin Thorpe); Rossetti, "Echo"; Harjo, "Ah Ah"; Tennyson, “Ulysses”; Short, chapter 4.

Jan. 23 class meeting: sound quiz #1

Jan. 25 class meeting: sound

Jan. 27 Discussion group A post

Jan. 29 Discussion group B response


Week 5: Genre and Poetic form

READINGS: Shakespeare, sonnets 129, 130, 138; Bishop, “Miracle for Breakfast”; Roethke, “The Waking”; e.e. cummings, “‘next to of course god america i”; Collins, “The Story We Know”; Short, chapter 5.

Jan. 30 class meeting: genre and form

Feb. 1   class meeting: genre and form

Feb. 3   short assignment #2 due


Week 6: Variation in English

READINGS:. Díaz, “Fiesta, 1980”; Burns, “To a Mouse”; Barnes “Shellbrook” and from “An Outline of English Speech Craft”; Dunbar, “Little Brown Baby”; Brooks, “We Real Cool”; Seamus Heaney, from “Singing School”; Bennett, "Bans O'Killing"; Walcott, from “Omeros”; Tom Leonard, "Unrelated Incidents, no. 3"; Short, chapter 3.

Feb. 6 quiz #2

Feb. 8

Feb. 10 Discussion group B post

Feb. 12 Discussion group A response


Week 7: Variation in English: the role of English

READINGS: Saro-Wiwa, from Sozaboy

Feb. 13

Feb. 15 Watch film

Feb. 17 short assignment #3 due


Week 8: Variation in English: the role of English

READINGS: Friel, Translations Short, chapter 6.

Feb. 20 no class (Presidents' Day)

Feb. 22 quiz #3

Feb. 24 final project proposals due


Week 9: Discourse

READINGS: Friel, Translations; Short, chapter 7.

Feb. 27

Mar. 1

Mar. 3 Discussion group A and B post


Week 10: Semantics and onomastics: the meaning of words and names

READINGS: Friel, Translations; Short, chapter 12.

Mar. 6 quiz #4

Mar. 8



Mar. 13 final paper due



Catalog Description: 
Examines the ways that literary texts structure and use language. Topics may include sound, meter, style, sentence and discourse structure, conversation strategies, narrative orientation, and/or dialect/variation in literature.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 4, 2017 - 10:40pm