ENGL 200 A: Reading Literary Forms

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 9:30am - 10:20am
AND 010
Brad Gerhardt

Syllabus Description:



Brad Gerhardt


B-428 Padelford Hall

Office Hours: Tues/Wed 11:30-12:30



            ENGL 200 covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense.

            In literary history, one important genre is the Bildungsroman, typically translated as “novel of development” or a “coming of age” novel; its narrative of the transition from adolescence into adulthood, and the development of character that entails, has had wide-spread implications in a number of cultural narratives over the last three hundred years. But the term Bildung itself is more closely related to “education” than to “development,” and to examine these transitional narratives specifically in terms of the types of education they depict and how these forms of education result in or undermine “development” will be our task throughout the quarter. We will look at narratives of education in novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, drama, and film, and examine the interplay between education, identity, and development. As a writing class, we will also focus on thinking critically about the expectations of academic writing and developing habits of close reading and comparative analysis.



            -Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg Ohio (Penguin, ISBN: 978-0140390599)

            -Louise Glück, Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN: 978-0374152017)

            -Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Harper Perennial Classics, ISBN: 978-


            -Nella Larsen, Quicksand (Rutgers UP, ISBN: 978-0813511704)   

-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (Harper Perennial Classics, ISBN: 978-0060837020)

            -André Gide, The Counterfeiters Trans. Dorothy Bussy (Vintage, ISBN: 978-0394718422)

-Course Packet, available at Rams Copy Center (4144 University Way NE)



  1. Students understand the investments, contexts, and effects of the kind of close/critical reading skills or approaches under study/use.
  2. Students develop more sophisticated discussion and presentation skills in the interest of being better able to construct and defend their own arguments or interpretations.
  3. Students improve their writing skills generally, and with regard to writing about literature and culture.



            Graded assignments are intended to implement learning outcomes, and practice a variety of skills; however, both assignments and assessments will require you to develop and maintain habits of close reading. They will be evaluated on the originality of thought, clarity of articulation, and depth of analysis. Please note that I expect printed copies of all written work.


Reading Journal (length will vary)

For our first book of the quarter (Winesburg Ohio), there will be no formal assignment; rather, you will make journal, with one entry for each day’s reading, discussing your reflections, questions, and observations from your reading. Your grade for the journal is more directly correlated to the consistency of your record than its length; this is intended to practice reading skills and not necessarily writing finesse. The format is up to you, but it should pay close attention to details from the texts and be primarily analytical, not summary or evaluative, in its approach.


Creative Reading Response (length will vary)

            This is your chance to respond to our poetry unit on your own terms. The intent is to respond directly to one specific poem from Ginsberg or Glück; this could take a number of forms, but should be primarily textual. You could ‘rewrite’ the poem, or take the theme/content in a very different direction, or transpose it to a different medium, such as a short story, a script, etc. Whatever form your response takes, it should also be accompanied by a 1-page description/defense of your response, outlining specifically why you chose to respond as you did, as well as how the process of rewriting/translating the text has changed your perspective on it.


Comparative Analysis (1500-2000 words, generally 5-7 pages double-spaced)

            The last four weeks of the course will be devoted to two novels, and your final paper will ask you to examine at least one of them comparatively. An effective comparative analysis identifies a fundamental concern or tension that two texts share and expands on that through careful and close reading of both texts. As we finish the first, The Bell Jar, I’ll ask you to formulate a “proposal” which you can then adhere to or abandon as we work through The Counterfeiters; you may choose to write on both novels, or use another text, if you desire.



Midterm Exam

            After our drama/film unit (The Graduate and Pygmalion), we will have an in-class written midterm exam (bring a blue book and pen). The focus of the exam will be on practicing closely reading one or more passages/scenes from the materials we have covered. Contributing to our in-class discussions and reading each text carefully will be your best preparation.


Group Presentation

            For our third unit, on novellas, I will split the class into groups. Each group will come up with an analytical discussion question related to either The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie or Quicksand, and then present their answers to this question in a 5-minute presentation to the class. How that presentation is staged is up to each group, but all should be relevant, analytical, and involve all members equally.


In-Class Writing

            I will have freewriting activities from time to time to practice skills and gauge questions and struggles the class is having with the texts. They are intended to be informal practice opportunities.



Attendance and Participation:

            ENGL 200 is not intended as a lecture course; it is a discussion-based course, and as such, your daily preparation and participation largely determine the success of the course. When illness or other circumstances arise, please let me know beforehand, and please attach to your email any assignments that are due, so that they won’t be counted late. Keeping up with the reading is essential for effective discussions; my first impulse is to trust you implicitly to read and think about our materials before each class. Please don’t violate my trust.

            Participation is more than merely attending class; it means contributing to discussions. I reserve the right, and will exercise it, to call on anyone in class and expect a response. There will be a weekly participation grade; as of Thursday after class, I will post grades for those I feel have participated sufficiently that week. I will also post a discussion question on Canvas. The discussion is an opportunity for those who haven’t participated much during the week to prove that they are engaging with the materials and improve that week’s grade. Any discussion posts will be due by Sunday night.


Zero Tolerance Policy

            Literature, by its nature, should invite a wide range of reactions, opinions, and interpretations; I hope to encourage this by providing an intellectually challenging but respectful environment; I ask you to do the same. There will be no tolerance for words, speech, behavior, actions, or clothing/possessions that insult, diminish, demean, or belittle any individual or group of persons based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual preference, ability, economic class, national origin, language, or age. Academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of discourse DO NOT protect racism or other acts of harassment and hate. Violations of this Zero Tolerance Policy may result in removal from the classroom and actions governed by the student code of conduct will be taken.


Technology Policy

            Unless you have a very specific reason for needing them, I request that you not use computers or electronics in class. I ask that you purchase physical copies of our texts, and our discussions will refer extensively to those physical objects, so bring to class with you the text you were assigned to read and be ready to engage with it. Please mark up your readings and take notes with pencil/pen and paper.


Late Work:

            I will accept any of the three written assignments late with a penalty of one grade level for each day (24 hour period) after the due date (for a paper that would receive a 4.0 had it been on time on Monday, any time after class up through Tuesday, it will receive a 3.0, Wednesday a 2.0, etc.). I will allow a make-up for the tests or presentation only in truly extenuating circumstances.



            Plagiarism or any other form of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in any way in my class; your work should be entirely your own, and cite any outside sources you have used (though none of the assignments ask you to do this). Definitions of what constitutes plagiarism and the consequences at the UW can be found at:  http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/plag.html



Writing Centers

            The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) offers free, one-on-one help with all aspects of writing at any stage in the writing process. It is best to make an appointment in advance: https://depts.washington.edu/owrc/signup.php

            The CLUE Writing Center in Mary Gates Hall is open Sunday to Thursday from 7pm to midnight. The graduate tutors can help you with your claims, organization, and grammar.


Disability-Related Needs:

If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.


            I will return assignments as quickly as possible with my written comments and grade, which is my primary form of communication, though I’ll also post grades to Canvas.

Total: 500 pts (see Canvas for grading scale)

            Assignments (50% of final grade)

                        Reading Journal – 50 pts

                        Creative Reading Response – 75 pts

                        Proposal – 25 pts

                        Comparative Analysis – 100 pts

            Assessments (30% of final grade)

                        Midterm – 50 pts

                        Presentation – 50 pts

                        In-Class Writing – 50 pts

            Participation – 100 pts (20 % of final grade)



NOTE: Readings/viewings should be completed BEFORE class on the date indicated.


1 April – Course Introduction

2 April – VIEW Mike Nichols, The Graduate (1967)

3 April – READ George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion - to pg 246 (Course Packet; CP)

4 April – Pygmalion - through end of Act III (CP)


8 April – Pygmalion - to end (CP)

9 April – VIEW Lewis Gilbert, Educating Rita (1983)

10 April – In-Class Midterm (bring a blue book)

11 April – Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg Ohio, through “Mother”


15 April – Winesburg Ohio, through “Godliness”

16 April – Winesburg Ohio, through “Tandy”

17 April – Winesburg Ohio, through “Queer”

18 April – Winesburg Ohio, through the end

Reading Journal due


22 April – Allen Ginsberg, Howl, through “A Supermarket in California” (CP)

23 April – Howl, all other poems (CP)

24 April – Louise Glück, Faithful and Virtuous Night, through “Midnight”

25 April – Faithful and Virtuous Night, through end


29 April – Muriel Sparks, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Ch. 1-2

Creative Reading Response due

30 April – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Ch. 3-4

1 May – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Ch. 5-6

2 May – Nella Larsen, Quicksand, Ch. 1-3


6 May – Quicksand, Ch. 4-11

7 May – Quicksand, Ch. 12-16

8 May – Quicksand, Ch. 17-25

9 May – Group Presentations

13 May – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Ch. 1-5

14 May – The Bell Jar, Ch. 6-8

15 May – The Bell Jar, Ch. 9-12

16 May – The Bell Jar, Ch. 13-15


20 May – The Bell Jar, Ch. 16-20

21 May – Andre Gide, The Counterfeiters, Part One, Ch. I-VI

            Proposal Due

22 May – The Counterfeiters, Part One, Ch. VII-XII

23 May – The Counterfeiters, Part One, Ch. XIII-XVIII


27 May - NO CLASS; Memorial Day

28 May – The Counterfeiters, Part Two

29 May – The Counterfeiters, Part Three, Ch. I-III

30 May – The Counterfeiters, Part Three, Ch. IV-VI


3 June – The Counterfeiters, Part Three, Ch. VII-XI

4 June – The Counterfeiters, Part Three, Ch. XII-XVI

5 June – The Counterfeiters, Part Three, Ch. XVII-end

6 June – Course Conclusion

            Comparative Analysis due


Catalog Description: 
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 10:30pm