ENGL 111 A: Composition: Literature

Meeting Time: 
TTh 8:30am - 10:20am
SMI 105
Carol Robertson
Carol Robertson

Syllabus Description:

Class Theme:  Critical Reading in Shakespeare’s Day and Now

Instructor:  Carol Robertson

Classroom: Smith Hall, Rm. 105, 8:30 a.m. to 10:20 a.m., T/Th

Office hours:  Tuesday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and by appointment.  Location to be announced.

Class website:   https://canvas.uw.edu/courses

Email: carolr3@u.washington.edu       

When Capulet’s servant, Peter, repeats and extends his inquiry, “I pray, can you read anything you see?” his question is set comprehensively: “…anythingyou see?” Romeo is forced to define the limits and conditions of his ability to read.  He responds, “If I know the letters and the language.” Before Romeo beckons him, “Stay,” Peter turns to leave, satisfied with the assumption that Romeo cannot read (I.2.57-63).  Texts in Shakespeare’s day represented much more than words on the page (“letters” and “language”).  Plutarch—the ancient Greek philosopher—had suggested one who could critically read texts, sifting with care, could critically read the people and circumstances around him or her, and Shakespeare appears to draw upon this thought in Romeo and Juliet. In this course, we will explore what it meant to be a critical reader in Shakespeare’s day and what it means to be critical readers and writers in our day as we take a new look at an old familiar story, Romeo and Juliet, and explore the modern and contemporary criticism surrounding the story. 

Our course goal is to cultivate the critical skills of good reading which ultimately lead to good writing and thus prepare you for the rigorous demands of university writing beyond this course.In the first of two major course sequences, we will sharpen our understanding of audience and rhetorical strategies by writing a rhetorical analysis of a text that serves as an exemplary modern model of effective writing—Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.  In the second sequence, students will write a literary analysis of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, exploring the development of a specific theme or specific characters in the text and engaging with contemporary and secondary criticism to form a meaningful argument.  In a highly interactive classroom environment, we will examine the depth and significance of our arguments to our audience as well as consider how effectively we have supported our arguments and addressed perceived counter-arguments. You will hone your skills as you incorporate instructor and peer feedback and make revisions to your writings. The course will include five short assignments and two major papers, culminating in a portfolio, which demonstrates your competency as writers. 

Materials Required:

  1. Writer/Thinker/Maker--the brief version (without readings).  Find it at the University Book Store on the Ave. 
  2. By week three:  Norton Critical Edition Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (2016).  Editor: Gordon McMullan; ISBN:  978-0-393-92626-2. Check website for availability at the UW University Bookstore or order online through Amazon, etc. 




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)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 10:10pm