Dr. Heather Hill-Vásquez, Department of English, University of Detroit Mercy


ENL 320: Medieval Literature
Dr. Hill-Vásquez

 Course Meeting Times: T TH 9:55 - 11:10
Location: CF 233
Instructor Office Hours: W 9-12 and by appointment
Office Location: Briggs 223

E-mail: hillvahe@udmercy.edu
Phone: (313) 578-0572

Course Description
This course will focus on early English literature but will also include examples of texts from other areas of Europe in order to aid our understanding of the early and late medieval eras. Beginning with the epic Beowulf, we will extend our exploration up to approximately 1500, ending with a small sample of the early English religious drama. In addition to discussing the literature itself—our primary focus—we will also discuss the climate of ideas in which the literature flourished and participated.

Required Texts (only editions noted are acceptable)
The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Vol. 1A. 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 2006.
ISBN: 0-321-10667-9
Medieval Women's Visionary Literature, ed. Petroff. New York: Oxford UP, 1986.
ISBN: 0-19-503712-X
The Canterbury Tales , ed. Hieatt and Hieatt. New York: 1964 /1990.
ISBN: 0-533-21082-3

Required Materials
A three-ring binder (1 inch) for Thematic Collection project

The semester grade for this course (A=100-94%, A-=93-89%, B+= 88-85%, B=84-81%, B-=80-78%, C+=77-74%, C=73-71%, C-=70-68%, D+=67-64%, D=63-60%, F=59-0%), based on 400 possible points, will be assigned according to the following:

Attendance (26 x 2) 52
Participation (26 x 3) 68
Quizzes (6 x 10) 60
In-Class Work (in-class writing, group activities, etc.) 20
Film Essays (3 x 30) 90
Collaborative Presentation 40
Thematic Collection 60
Total 400

Fundamental Requirements
In addition to a large amount of thinking, reading, and writing, you will also be required to participate actively and consistently in class discussion. If you cannot participate actively and consistently in class discussion, you should reconsider your enrollment in this class. Furthermore, in order to succeed in this class, you must think deeply and analytically, and you must express unique and original ideas that are meaningful, purposeful, and significant. You must focus on intellectual inquiry and discussion. You must be intellectually engaged. You must be responsible for your own learning. You must respect the learning process and all members of the class. You must attend class regularly, prepare carefully for each class session, and take responsibility for both your accomplishments and shortcomings. You must work very hard.

Requirements of Literary Analysis
All literature courses are really courses in culture, history, philosophy, religion, sociology, etc., and this course will be no exception. You will be required to examine each assigned text carefully and closely as a document of cultural influence, one that both reflects and shapes its culture. In order to succeed in this class, you must think deeply and analytically about the texts and issues we will study and you must create responses and essays that express interpretations that are meaningful, purposeful, and significant. A passing piece of writing will develop observations, opinions, and comparisons into meaningful analysis that demonstrates a new idea. A passing piece of writing must contain a specific, meaningful argument that demonstrates complex, original thinking and encourages further thought. Do not simply make observations or state opinions. Avoid basic and familiar ideas. Avoid mere summary and description. Avoid saying the same old things. Avoid merely pointing out similarities and/or differences.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

Attendance and Participation
You will receive 2 points for each day you attend class. You must arrive on time and stay for the entire class period to receive 2 points (e.g., if you arrive late and/or leave early, you will not receive more than 1 point for attendance, and you may, in fact, receive no points). You will then receive a maximum of 3 additional points for participation in classroom discussions and group work. For class meetings which do not include class discussion and/or group work (rare), each student will receive 3 points as long as they are attentive and participate in whatever activity is scheduled and/or unfolds.

Much of our time together will be spent in discussion so you are expected to participate actively during class sessions. Participation will figure heavily in final grading; to achieve a “C” or higher in this course, you must be prepared for discussion for each class meeting. Do not, therefore, get behind in your reading and work. Be prepared for every class session with interesting ideas and comments. If you treat yourself, your abilities, and the texts you study with seriousness and dedication, the course will be challenging and rewarding for all of us.

You are allowed one "free" attendance day. That is, if you miss one class meeting, you will still receive 2 points for attendance, but you will not receive any points for participation (this includes the last three days of class). There will be no other "excused" absences. Alternatively, see "Attendance and Participation 'Make Up' Policy" below. Your "free" attendance day can not be combined with the below "Make Up" Policy. If you miss more than 6 classes (including your "free day"), however, you will automatically fail the course.

Attendance and Participation "Make Up" Policy
If you miss a class meeting, you may attempt to make up the points by completing a three-page analytical essay, with an argument, based on a topic of my choice (usually a text from the class meeting missed). In order to exercise this option, you must let me know by the next class meeting, following the missed class meeting, that you wish to write the three-page essay. I will then assign you a topic. The essay will then be due one week later at the beginning of class. Make sure you indicate at the top of your essay that you are submitting it for possible attendance and participation points. You may exercise this option for only two missed class meetings. Any additional class meetings cannot be "made up."

Late Arrivals
Arriving late to class is rude and disruptive. For each late arrival, .5 points will be deducted from your final grade. If you arrive late more than 6 times during the semester, you will fail the course. Similarly, each time you leave early, .5 points will be deducted and leaving early more than 6 times will result in a failure of the course. In short, any combination of late arrivals and early departures totaling more than 6 will result in failure of the course.

More on Responsibility
If you experience a situation that absolutely must preclude you from meeting course expectations, inform me as quickly as possible either before the situation occurs (if you know about it in advance) or immediately after the situation occurs (if it is unexpected). It is your responsibility to keep me informed. In addition, review the policies on Attendance, etc. above.

Students will complete six in-class quizzes based primarily upon reading comprehension. If you miss a quiz, you may attempt to make up the points by completing a three-page analytical essay--with an analytical argument--based on one of the quiz questions. In order to exercise this option, you must let me know by the next class meeting following the missed quiz that you wish to write the three-page essay. I will then assign you a topic. The essay will then be due by the following class meeting at the beginning of class. Make sure you indicate at the top of your essay that you are submitting it for possible quiz points. You may exercise this option for only one missed quiz. Any additional quizzes cannot be "made up." All quizzes must be completed at the beginning of class. If you are late for class, you will not likely be able to take the quiz scheduled for that day. The first quiz will be a practice quiz which may be used for extra credit points (up to 10).

Taking Notes
Take notes during every class session during my lectures and during class discussions. Active note taking will count toward your participation points for each class session. (If you miss a day of class, you should borrow another student's notes.)

Written Assignments
In order to succeed in this course you will need to turn in each of your written assignments by the due date listed on the Course Schedule at the beginning of class. The penalty for written assignments turned in after the due date at the beginning of class is 2 points per day (including days on which the course does not meet).

Collaborative Presentation
While each of you will be required to present your ideas and contribute to class discussion throughout the semester, each student will participate in one formal and prepared presentation based on one of the texts we will read for the course. Working with 1-2 other students, you will present your ideas and analysis of the text(s) to the class and will be responsible for determining the direction of class discussion. You will receive a handout providing more detailed instructions.

Thematic Collection of Medieval Texts
Throughout the semester, you will be working on a thematic collection of medieval texts which will be submitted as your final project for the course. You will collect a total of 7-9 texts (read for the course) which you can link thoughtfully and analytically through a similar idea or theme that you see present among the texts. You will need to demonstrate this link and argue an interesting and unique point about the link in an Introductory Essay (at least 5 pages) which will accompany your Collection. This interesting and unique point must communicate something meaningful about the medieval period: together, what do your selected texts teach us about the Middle Ages? Why have you brought these texts together (and not others)? Make sure you argue a specific point in your Introductory Essay. Do not, for example, argue that your texts demonstrate that love was important in the Middle Ages or that violence influenced medieval peoples.

Each text you select should not be longer than 350 words. This means that if you wish to include longer texts, you will need to decide upon appropriate excerpts from the texts. I strongly encourage you to include a combination of shorter texts and excerpts from longer texts. Two of your 7-9 texts may be visual in nature. You may also substitute a 350-word description of a scene from one of the movies we will watch for one of your texts.

You will submit your collection in a 3-ring binder as follows:

1) Affix an interesting title with your name and date to the front of your binder.

Your Title
A Thematic Collection of Medieval Texts

With an Introductory Essay by

Your Name
The Date

2) Your Introductory Essay should appear at the front of your collection. Put the title "Introductory Essay" at the top of the page. Your essay should then follow all remaining Format Requirements (with the exception of nos. 7 and 8). Please review the Grading Rubric for my expectations for Essays (which include developing an interesting and original analysis of the texts as well as a central, controlling argument). In addition, review "Requirements of Literary Analysis" above.

3) Follow your Introductory Essay with a neat Table of Contents listing the titles and authors of your selected texts. Think carefully about how you will organize your texts (order, etc.). You may wish to explain how and why your order of texts in your Introductory Essay (as long as it contributes to an understanding of your argument).

Work on your collection of texts throughout the semester. When we read or when you come across a text that you think would fit in your collection, make a copy of it, and set it aside. Do not wait until the end of the semester to begin working on your collection.

Please see the Course Schedule for the due date for your Thematic Collection. Any Collection received after the due date will automatically receive a "0." No exceptions.

Format Requirements
If for some reason, you manage to turn in an assignment, etc., that does not follow the Format Requirements. I will deduct a number of points to be determined at my discretion (usually between 2 and 5 points per day, including non-class days). Please see the attached sheet for all Format Requirements.

Office Appointments
I will be happy to meet with you either during my scheduled office hours or at another time that is convenient for both of us. We can accomplish a lot if we both work hard during an appointment. I love to discuss ideas, new approaches, responses to readings, etc., outside of class. If you schedule an appointment with me, please do not miss it.

Plagiarism, the use of someone else's words or ideas as your own without crediting the other person, can result in serious consequences…You are probably already aware of cases of deliberate plagiarism--handing in a paper that a friend wrote for a similar course or that was purchased online, copying passages directly from source materials. In addition, however, you should be aware of unintended plagiarism--a quotation accidentally used without quotation marks, a paraphrase that too closely resembles the original, background details used without acknowledgment in the mistaken belief that none was necessary. By understanding what material you must document, taking systematic, accurate notes, and giving full credit to sources in both parenthetical citations and in your list of sources cited, you can avoid unintended plagiarism. (Lunsford & Connors, The New St. Martin's Handbook, Boston: Bedford, 1999. 495)

If you plagiarize in this course, you will likely fail the course.

Non-Discriminatory Language (Non-Sexist and Non-Racist Language)
The use of non-discriminatory language (ie language that avoids stereotyping or offending readers in relation to their gender or ethnicity) is important in two ways. Firstly, it avoids irritating and distracting readers and, secondly, it focuses attention on the content of the reading rather than diverting attention to sexual or ethnic bias. If the aim of writing is to communicate effectively, it would seem reasonable to aid that communication by using non-discriminatory language. For example, use of the terms "man", "woman", "he" and "she" need only be used when specific reference to the gender of the person is necessary to the sense of the statement. Similarly, reference to ethnic origin should only be made when it is relevant to the sense of the work.

Accordingly, the use of non-discriminatory language is required by students in their written and oral assignments. If you have any questions, please ask me. (Note: This statement was adapted from <www.usq.edu.au/education/policies/acmanual>).

Students With Disabilities
If you need accommodations because of a documented disability, and/or if you have medical information to share with me, please discuss this with me before our second class meeting. If you have not already obtained proper documentation from Disability Support Services, I will be happy to direct you to the appropriate office. Please feel free to e-mail me as well.

The Writing Center
A wonderful resource for all students engaged in writing projects, The Writing Center is located in Briggs 225 (across from my office). Please use it. You may find more information about The Writing Center at <ids.udmercy.edu/twc>. You may also phone them at (313) 993-1022. Better yet, stop by.

Major Portfolios - A Reminder
All English majors are required to submit a "Major Portfolio" (or "Senior Portfolio") before they graduate. All English Majors (and those planning on majoring in English) should be saving all writing assignments (including drafts, applicable writing assignments, and any other related materials) from your courses in order to prepare your required Major Portfolio. The requirements for the Portfolio may be found at http://liberalarts.udmercy.edu/english/english_portfolio.html.

Format Requirements
Writing assignments and handouts not following the requirements below will not be accepted and will lose several points per day (not per class meeting; see syllabus) until the requirements are fulfilled. If you manage to turn in an assignment that does not abide by the following requirements and I discover this after class, I will deduct a select number of points (determined at my discretion) from the final grade for the assignment.

Do not turn in a writing assignment until you have fulfilled all of the following requirements.

1. Typed

2. Double-Spaced* (throughout the entire paper: do not add extra spaces between paragraphs)

3. Standard White Paper

4. Standard Font

5. Black ink only

6. 1 – 1 ½ Inch Margins (top, bottom, and sides)

7. Staple All Pages in Upper Left Corner (this includes all copies of handouts distributed to students for presentations; do not hand out separate pages; instead, prepare and staple each packet before class)**

8. Type in Upper Left Corner:

Your Name

Course Name

Dr. Hill-Vásquez

Date (make sure you include the correct and current date)


Note: Do not turn in an essay with a separate cover page.
*Single Spacing may be used on Presentation Handouts
**Alternatively, if you have a two-page Presentation handout, you may "double side" it. Do not "double side" other writing assignments.

Additional Requirements and Reminders
A successful student in the class will abide by all of the following. Any inattention to the following will have a negative effect on a student’s final grade in the course.

1. Do not show up late for class. Arrive a few minutes before 9:55 and remain involved and attentive until 11:20 or until I end the class. Do not begin packing up your books, etc., before 11:20 or until I end the class.

2. Do your work. Read all assignments carefully and analytically. Be prepared to discuss them in class. Have an opinion about them.

3. Participate in class discussion.

4. Do not sleep in class. If you sleep in class, you will receive no attendance or participation points.

5. Pay attention to the Course Schedule. You are responsible for the information it contains. Do not ask me about deadlines and other information that is already documented on the Course Schedule.

6. Prepare all writing assignments (unless otherwise noted) in accordance with the Format Requirements.

7. As a last step, before turning in any written work to me, make sure that you correct all spelling and grammatical errors, etc. Papers with significant sentence-level errors (regardless of analytical strength) will not likely earn a grade higher than a “C-.”

8. Get the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of at least two other students in the course. When you miss a class (if you must), phone one of these students to find out what you missed. You are responsible for what you missed due to an absence. Please do not expect me to "catch you up" or duplicate what you missed during an absence.

9. Turn off your cell phone and/or pager before you come to class. If your phone or pager rings or beeps or otherwise makes a distracting noise during a class session, you will receive no participation points for that session. In addition, do not leave class or come to class late in order to take a call. If you do so, you will receive no participation points for that session and you will also likely receive no attendance points.

10. Do not e-mail me writing assignments. All writing assignments must be submitted in hard copy at the beginning of class on the day they are due or by the time assigned. I do not accept electronic submissions.

11. Do not make technological “excuses” for your late/missing work (computer or disk problems, etc.).

12. Do not plagiarize.

13. Do not do work for other courses in class.

14. Do not use your laptop during class for anything other than taking notes for the course or consulting websites connected to the course.

15. If you wish additional help on an assignment, make sure you contact me well in advance of the due date for the assignment.

16. Do not wait until the night before to begin an assignment.

17. Always bring your textbook and other necessary materials to class with you. Organize your materials for the class in a binder or folder.

18. Be an active and responsible participant in your Collaborative Presentation. Do not leave all or most of the work to other group members. Contact your other group members well in advance of your Presentation date and meet with them.

19. Be polite and respectful.

20. Be open to new ideas and perspectives.

21. Be aware of all course requirements and policies and abide by them.

Requirements for Continued Enrollment
Review all of the above materials and the Course Schedule before continuing your enrollment in this course. Your continued enrollment in this course indicates that you are responsible for all information and requirements described on the Syllabus and all other handouts presented to you. This responsibility includes your agreement to abide by the requirements of the course and by my expectations for the course and its students. If you foresee any difficulties in meeting course expectations (work load; grading; attendance; responsibility; respect for other students, instructor, etc.; being open-minded, etc.) then do not continue your enrollment in this course.

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