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ENGL 200 A: Reading Literary Forms

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 9:40am - 11:50am
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Professor Harkins in front of bookshelf
Gillian Harkins

Syllabus Description:

Professor Gillian Harkins                                                    Office Hours:  T/Th 12:00 - 1:00 PM

English 200 Summer 2021                                                           or message for an appointment

M/T/W/TH 9:40-11:50 AM


Reading Literary Forms:

Reality Effects


          who says what's real ...  


 -- Dian Million (Tanana Athabascan), The Highway, quoted in "Intense Dreaming: Theories, Narratives, and Our Search for Home" American Indian Quarterly 35.3 (Summer 2011): 314.                                                                          


This Reading Literary Forms class explores how concepts of "reality" are shaped by literary forms.  This means we will ask how different kinds of writing conjure up images or ideas that seem to refer to ... but what is reality?  Does it refer to subjective experience?  To objective facts?  To material properties of a physical world?  To abstract principles, beliefs, or ideologies?  Is reality something that more than x number of people have to agree on?  And if so, what number would that be?  How do people, individually or in groups, come to share a sense of what is real, and what role does writing and its categorization play in this reality effect?  How widely varied are cultural definitions and experiences of reality?  And what exactly is the role of literature in shaping not only the answers to these questions, but the questions themselves?

We have only five intense weeks to plunge into this discussion and, at the same time, give you ample room to practice your own writing and revision skills (this is a W class).  To make the most of our short, condensed time together, the course is designed around some very short readings that raise very big questions about writing and reality.  Each week will pair at least two different literary forms (I'll explained that term our first day!) and at least two different writing practices (credit/no credit).  You will use these weekly practices to build up to a more formal graded (including drafts and revision).   



Course Format:  Due to COVID-19, this course will be offered on-line through the UW Canvas course platform.   All course materials will be available as links or as .pdf texts on this Canvas website, and all assignments can be completed through this website.  Professor Harkins will have weekly Zoom office hours on Tuesday and Thursday from 12:00 - 1:00 pm or you can send a message to meet by appointment at a separate time.

The course will be held in mix of synchronous and a-synchronous formats, with live Zoom lecture and discussion held during scheduled class times as well as on-line discussion postings on assigned topics.

For more information about accessibility and on-line Zoom meetings, please see this UW Webpage on Hosting Accessible On-Line Meetings.  Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to discuss accessibility features for this course.


On-Line Course Readings: All readings are collected on the Canvas website as either digital links or .pdf files.  Some links will be to external websites.  Please let me know if you have problems accessing course materials.


Course Objectives

  • Hone interpretation/decoding skills
  • Practice critical interpretation
  • Experiment with literary forms
  • Write literary arguments
  • Revise literary arguments


Course Requirements

  • Dialogue and Reflection: You will be expected to participate actively in your own learning process by contributing to regular discussion activities.  This will include in-class Zoom discussion as well as on-line discussion posts.  This is a non-evaluative portion of the grade, based on credit/no-credit.  You are expected to post two on-line discussion comments and two replies each week.  Course Grade: 25%
  • Exploratory Writing: You will experiment with various short writing assignments every week.  These writing assignments will sometimes be shared with others as part of our class writing and revision activities (you will always know in advance).  All short writing assignments will be submitted in an on-line Portfolio.  Course Grade: 25%
  • Formal Essay: You will hand in one 5-6 page formal essay to satisfy the W requirement for the course.  You will write a rough draft of this essay due at the midpoint of the class and a substantively revised draft of this essay due at the end of the class. 
    • First Draft: 25%.
    • Final Draft: 25%.  


Course Policies


Additional Resources

Additional support for technology access, writing and research support, financial and health needs, food, parenting, and legal resources and have been gathered at this link: 

Additional writing support is available through the Odegaard Writing and Research Center: 

Peer-to-peer writing tutors are available at the Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment (CLUE) at: 

On-line advising appointments with the new Humanities Advising Center can be scheduled here: 

Ask Betty! Grammar for College Writers: 


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: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
June 1, 2021 - 11:24pm