Dr. Dean Taciuch
George Mason University

Spring 2008


English 201: MT2
Course Syllabus

Course Description

English 201 is designed as an introduction to the reading and analysis of texts, including poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. In this course we will read, discuss, analyze and interpret fiction, poems, and nonfiction memoirs. This section of 201 is linked to a section of Music 107, History of Jazz. This link gives us the opportunity to study how the sounds, rhythms, structures, and culture of jazz have influenced and been expressed through poetry, fiction, and nonfiction prose. Although many of our readings will have jazz music as a topic, our primary concerns will be structural: we will consider how the literature is "put together" by analyzing sound, rhythm, image, characterization, and narration.

Students will write three full-length essays (1500-2000 words). These essays will analyze one or more of the texts we read in the class, using the concepts introduced in the English and Music courses.

The course will develop critical and interpretive skills useful in any form of analysis. Reading a text is an act of interpretation, requiring you to formulate, develop, and defend (using evidence from the text itself) your opinions and insights into such things as language, structure, symbolism, meaning, plot, and character.


Lange & Mackey, eds. Moment's Notice. ISBN: 1566890012 (17.50)
Kerouac. On the Road. ISBN: 9780142437254 (15.00).

Any edition of On the Road will be fine; there are millions of used copies of this book around.




The major assignments are the three writing essays, each of 1500-2000 words, a midterm, and a final exam. The minor assignments are regular written responses due on Thursdays unless an essay is due that week.

Essay 1 (Performance Analysis): 20%
Essay 2 (Narrative Analysis): 20%
Essay 3 (Novel Analysis): 20%
Midterm: 15%
Final: 15%
Weekly responses (8): 10%


Course Policies

Grading: . Grades on the essays will be based primarily on the quality of the writing. I value clear, focused writing with plenty of examples. The audience for the essays will be the class itself, and I expect the papers to be written with this audience in mind.

I will give all assignments letter grades. I calculate final grades by converting the letter grades to a 100 point scale using the following values:

A+ 100  
A 95 C+ 78
A- 90 C 75
B+ 88 C- 70
B 85 D 65
B- 80 F below 60


Late Assignments: Unless you make prior arrangements with me, late assignments will lose one letter grade per day. The lost grades cannot be made up by revision.

Revisions: The essays may be revised for a higher grade, but they must be substantially revised. You cannot lose a grade by revising, but a higher grade is not guaranteed. I have found that "B" papers (or higher) are often more difficult to revise, since serious revision requires thoroughly changing the essay's structure, and "B" papers usually have a fairly good structure. "C" papers (or lower) often respond more dramatically to revision, since the major changes they require are often more straightforward. I recommend revising "C" papers or lower only. If you plan to revise a "B" paper, please see me beforehand so we can discuss a revision strategy.

All revisions must be submitted by May 1.

Plagiarism: We will discuss the use and re-use of online materials quite extensively in this class. I consider the unacknowledged use of source materials to be plagiarism. Improper citations must be corrected, but improper citations alone will not get you sent to the Honor Committee.

Attendance: I will not take attendance, but it is not possible to do well in this course without regular attendance. In class assignments make up part of your grade. Class discussions of the readings are necessary for the papers, exercises, and the research project. Topics will develop from the class discussions.


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