Main Menu

Writing About Literature: ENGL 102

Course purpose and objectives

The goals for Writing about Literature, ENGL 102, are to develop students’ critical reading, thinking, and writing skills as they discuss and write about a variety of literary genres: fiction, poetry, and drama. The readings for this course will include American and world literature selections that reflect a range of ethnic and cultural diversity. A thematic approach may be utilized as long as characteristics of the genres and close reading skills and textual analysis are taught. Emphasis is placed on learning to develop clear, logical, well-structured critical essays, free from serious usage/mechanics errors. To help students accomplish these goals, teachers are asked to present writing as a process. Students will also receive instruction in research techniques and in writing the research paper. In addition, students will become familiar with and cultivate an appreciation for stylistic characteristics of each literary genre and the timeless insights into the human condition provided through the reading and study of literature.

Essential skills and outcomes to be acquired through the course include:

  1. an ability to render close textual analysis;
  2. an ability to synthesize information from multiple texts;
  3. an ability to render clear, cogent ideas;
  4. an ability to structure well-developed essays, with thesis, textual support, and analysis;
  5. an ability to correctly employ standard written English usage;
  6. an ability to utilize effective research methodology and research paper skills;
  7. an understanding of and respect for ethnic/cultural diversity;
  8. an aesthetic and critical judgment for literature;
  9. an ability to utilize basic technology to improve writing and thinking skills.

Required texts and materials

A Writer’s Reference, Diana Hacker; dictionary; The Norton Introduction to Literature, ed. Alison Booth, J. Paul Hunter, and Kelly J. Mays (or departmentally approved texts); computer account for use of the Knutti Collaborative Learning Computer Lab.


A minimum of five documented essays are required, one of which will be a longer, formal research paper of at least 1,250 words, written on a literary topic and utilizing MLA documentation style. Each essay will be graded and returned before the next writing assignment, and at least one essay must be an in-class essay. In preparation for the research paper, students will receive instruction in using indexes, computer reference tools and other bibliographic and electronic tools, in taking carefully documented notes, in evaluating electronic sources, and in writing an accurately documented paper. MLA ms. style as presented in A Writer’s Reference will be employed for the writing of the documented papers.

Because Shepherd University values the importance of computer literacy and because the Department of English values the processes of revision and editing in writing, all ENGL 102 essays must be computer drafted. All students must acquire a university computer account and become familiar with the three General Studies basic technology/communication requirements: 1) Internet use, 2) electronic library research, and 3) word processing.

The University Writing Center

To receive individual instruction and feedback on writing in progress, students should be encouraged to visit The Academic Support Services Center in the basement of Scarborough Library. Visits are by appointment (via the online schedule found at or through ShepOwl at

Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Project

Instructors of ENGL 101 are encouraged to utilize works by the Writer-in-Residence in their course and incorporate at least one of the residency events each fall into their course curriculum, as this important program presents an extraordinary opportunity for General Studies English students at Shepherd to come into contact with a regional writer of note. For information and lesson plans, see residency webpage at


Grades awarded for essays should be consistent with the Department Grading Criteria at, and should follow the values: 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, 0-59=F.

Revision Approved 4-02-08