English 3412: Course Requirements and Assignments, including Attendance and Adherence to Deadlines

Philip V. Allingham, Contributing Editor, Victorian Web; Faculty of Education, Lakehead University (Canada)

A. Participation in group projects and presentations (total value = 15%).

Note: If a student is absent, he or she will not have the opportunity to make up work in this category.

B. An open-book mid-term consisting of five short-answer and three paragraph questions (total value = 20%) on the style, tone, diction, and point-of-view used by particular novelists in works studied to date.

C. A major paper (2,500 words+) on one of a variety of set topics (see accompanying list) on the basis of one student per topic. You may fashion a narrower topic from that which you have selected. You will be expected to familiarize yourself with some of the existing criticism on the work or works you will be discussing by consulting relevant secondary sources, including periodicals such as Nineteenth-Century Literature, The Dickensian, The Dickens Quarterly, Victorian Periodicals Review, The Thomas Hardy Journal, and The Thomas Hardy Year Book. This paper, which accounts for 30% of the final mark, is due by Friday, March 26th, 2004.

D. Final (closed-book) examination, accounting for a further 35% of the final mark. This will consist of two essays--the first, a general essay utilizing at least one novel (15 marks), the second, character analyses and discussions based on core readings (20 marks).

E. Attendance and Adherence to Deadlines:

Regular attendance and participation in discussions and group work are expected. Students are expected to have completed the necessary reading prior to each meeting of the class.

Deadlines for assignments should be strictly adhered to. In the event of illness, a make-up mid-term examination may be arranged, providing the student provides a physician's note. Unless an extension has been granted, the grades of late assignments will be reduced by one-third (for example, from a B to a B-) one day after the due date, and by an additional one-third for each three-day period until the assignment has been submitted. Extensions must be requested prior to the due date. Essays must be submitted to the instructor in person, not left in his departmental box, slipped under his door, or left with a secretary. Always keep a copy of your paper on file, preferably on your own computer. No assignments will be accepted after the last day of classes for the term. No assignments may be submitted by e-mail; hard copy is required in all cases.

F. Group Discussions and Presentations:

At regular intervals throughout the course, the class will be divided into groups of three or four in order to discuss more effectively issues arising from readings. For some of these sessions, the instructor will give out the topics to the groups a few days in advance and require students to bring to a designated meeting two copies of a page or two of notes which record individual thinking about the issues raised. One (legible, though not necessarily polished) copy will be handed in at the start of the class; the second will be utilized by the student in the ensuing discussion. These notes together with the product of the group will be the basis for the participation mark for each exercise.

Some of the problems for group consideration will NOT be announced in advance, so that the participation grade will be based solely on what each group produces in class. Absence from either discussions announced in advance or announced on the day cannot be made up after the fact, so that the only way to earn these participation marks will be to attend regularly.

Lakehead University English Department Marking Standards

Although each assignment will be considered individually, the following guidelines explain the characteristics that mark each grade range:

A: An "A" paper is well-organized and persuasive, and uses specific references to the text to prove a precise and interesting thesis. It is stylistically pleasing to read (i.e., it uses clear, concise, and vigorous sentences, and varies sentence length and structure to prevent stilted prose). Grammatical and spelling errors are almost non-existent. "A" research papers are situated in a larger critical discourse with judicious use of secondary sources, but those sources do not overwhelm the author's own ideas. Most importantly, A papers demonstrate some originality of thought; they move beyond class discussion and show an active engagement with the text.

B: Essays in the "B" range also contain a coherent, well-organized argument, although they might have some minor problems, such as a lack of concluding sentences to their paragraphs, or weak topic sentences. They have very few grammatical errors (no more than one per 250-word page). Such papers might suffer from some stylistic problems (wordiness or overuse of the passive voice). Although "B" essays have a clear and precise thesis, they might not display the originality of thought that characterizes an "A" paper. One of these problems could be enough to move a paper into the "B" range, and the more problems a paper has, the lower in the range it will be.

C: An essay in the "C" range may have a clear thesis, but this thesis might not be precise enough, or might not be substantiated by the argument. "C" papers may suffer from problems in organization, such as not having clear transitions between paragraphs, or not having topic sentences. They might have more grammatical errors than a "B" paper (two or three per page), and their style may be awkward, unclear, or wordy; they may also overuse the passive voice. A failure to stick to the topic might move a paper into the "C" range. Such essays often rely too heavily on plot summary, and do not engage in sufficient analysis of the text.

D: An essay in the "D" range may not have a clear thesis. Such essays may suffer from many of the problems of the "C" paper, but to a greater extent. Their prose might be so awkward that the meaning of the sentences is obscured. They may consist exclusively of plot summary, or make general assertions without supporting them with direct reference to the text. They may have serious grammatical problems (four or five per page). Such papers may also lack an introduction or a conclusion, or may have no clear paragraphing whatsoever. They often synthesize the ideas of several secondary sources, without offering their own analysis.

E/F: A failing paper may suffer from major grammatical problems, or lack any sense of organization. It may not have a thesis at all, or its prose may be so convoluted that the meaning is lost. A failing paper may, by exhibiting numerous factual errors, indicate that its author has either not read the text, or not understood it. Such papers might also reproduce the ideas of a single secondary source, without offering their own analysis. Although students who have written essays in the E range (40-49%) can improve and sometimes do very well, an F (less than 40%) indicates that the paper may have too many problems for the student to solve in the limited time available.

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Last modified 14 September 2003