Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

Forward to Navigation

English 1900d: Introduction to English Language and Literature (Fall 2024)

Posted: Jul 05, 2024 12:07;
Last Modified: Jul 05, 2024 14:07


About this course

English 1900 is currently the main introductory course in our department. It (or a similar first year course) is a prerequisite for all higher level courses.

The purpose of English 1900 is to introduce students to the study of literature and to provide opportunity to practice analytical reading, thinking, and writing about texts. It is primarily a skills course, in the sense that subsequent classes will assume students who have taken this course will have had practice in reading, discussing, and writing about a variety of genres and texts, but will not assume that they have read any particular works.

In this section of English 1900, our main focus will be on responding to literature: that is to say, thinking about and practicing all the different ways we as readers and authors understand writing by others and incorporate it into our own lives. Students will maintain a reading diary in the form of a blog; will practice doing their own creative and analytic writing; discuss and share their writing on the works we read with others; and get some practice in the expectations of university-level work in the Humanities.

Warning: Some of the works covered in this class deal with topics that some students may find disturbing, including representations of and reference to historical acts of personal and government racism, violence, sexual assault, addiction, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Please contact me if you are worried about your engagement with any of this material or would like additional information on anything covered in this course.


Times and location

MW 12:00-13:15 Room A580.

Office and Office Hours

Office hours: Mondays, 13:15-14:00; Thursdays, 14:00-15:00. Or by appointment.

Office hours will be held in the Humanities Innovation Lab (B838)

Note: I am usually in my office or the lab on weekday afternoons and you are welcome to drop by.

Detailed description

English 1900 is the required introductory course in the department. The calendar description is as follows:

An introduction to the study of English language and literature, involving an exploration of various genres of literature and non-literary texts and requiring a series of critical assignments designed to encourage analytical reading, thinking and writing.

Within this broad rubric instructors are free to set their own themes and texts. In this section, our focus will be on discovery and communication: uncovering our (often unrealised) critical responses to texts and developing these into compelling and interesting conversations with others. These are essential skills in literary studies and the humanities more generally. Their acquisition is the principal goal of a humanities education.

We will be taking a constructivist approach to practising these skills. Students will be largely responsible for the direction of class content, within the framework sketched out in the class schedule below. The class will consist almost entirely of in-class discussion, with our topics for discussion being determined for the most part by student interests as reflected in weekly blogging assignments.

The section will also expose students to a variety of different communication contexts. In addition to their weekly blogs, students will also write two “unessays” (a type of free-form writing in which the only requirement is that you develop and communicate your ideas in a compelling fashion), one formal essay (an essay in which you will be graded on both the quality of your ideas and ability to communicate and more formal aspects of style, citation format, and the like), creative writing exercises, and a final exam.

Learning goals

By the end of the course students should have an understanding of the conventions, processes, and skills required for University-level literary research. This involves the ability to


Some of the works covered in this class deal with topics that some students may find disturbing, including representations of and reference to historical acts of personal and government racism, violence, sexual assault, addiction, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Please contact me if you are worried about your engagement with any of this material or would like additional information on anything covered in this course.

Texts to purchase

Texts that will be supplied


  1. All texts are required;
  2. To assist you in finding the specific copies we will be using, I have provided ISBN information for the books you are required to purchase. The format used in this list is not the same as that required for the works cited list for your formal essay.


In my classes, I use two grading scales: one for formative work, the other for summative.

Formative grading

Formative work is intended to help students practice skills and assess their understanding and ability. It usually graded on a Pass/Fail or Appropriate/Inappropriate/Fail basis. I may also supply a letter grade to give you a finer sense of how you did, but this grade generally does not contribute to your grade.

My rule for formative work is that you receive a “pass” or “appropriate” grade if your work shows good faith participation and you submit it on time. If I believe that your work has not been done in good faith, I will discuss it with you and, if I remain unconvinced, will give you a grade of “fail,” or “inappropriate” (in the case of blogs and creative work of work, I will give you a grade of fail or inappropriate on the next similar assignment, unless your work shows improvement.

Summative grading

Summative grading is used to assess how well students have mastered the skills and material taught in a course. These grades are vary with the quality of your work. Excellent work might receive an A+ or an A, work that is satisfactory (but not “good”) might receive a C+, C, or C-.

In assigning these grades, I try to keep the University’s official description of these grades in mind (a description can be found in the University Calendar, Part IV.3.a). If you get an A it means I think your work is excellent; a B means I think your work is good; a C means I think it is satisfactory; a D that I think it is barely acceptable (minimal pass); and an F that I think it is failing to meet University-level standards.


I use badges to reward excellent work and to provide a cost to inappropriate work. Badges are a percentage of the final grade that can be awarded to any work — summative or formative — that exceeds expectations and shows interest, commitment, and creativity. While there is a rough correspondence between grades and badges (Great Distinction is intended for work that could earn an A+ or and A were it to be graded, and Distinction is intended for work that could earn an A- or B+), there is no direct relationship: work that is excellent on its own terms but does not conform to an assignment’s instructions might receive a low grade and a badge; work that scores well in an assignment that doesn’t particularly allow for excellence might receive a high grade and no badge.

The evaluation scheme presented here should be considered tentative and open to change until the beginning of the last class before the Add/Drop deadline.

Formative work

Assignment Value Grading method
Attendance 5% Pass/fail
Blogs 15% Appropriate/Inappropriate/Fail
In-class creative exercises 15% Appropriate/Inappropriate/Fail
Unessays 15% Appropriate/Inappropriate/Fail

Summative work

Assignment Value Grading method
Final essay 15% Summatively
Final exam 20% Summatively


Badge Value Grading method
Great Distinction 3% Follow link for explanation
Distinction 1.5% Follow link for explanation
Inappropriate -1.5% Follow link for explanation

Grade scale

The University does not have an official correspondence between percentages and letter grades. In assessing summative work in my classes, therefore, I use the following table:

  Excellent Good Satisfactory Poor Minimal pass Failing
Letter A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D F
Percent range 100-94 93-90 89-86 85-82 81-78 77-74 73-70 69-66 65-62 61-58 57-50 49-0
Conventional value 100 92 88 84 80 76 72 68 64 60 56 49-0
Grade point 4.0 3.7 3.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.0 1.7 1.3 1.0 0

I use this table in different ways depending on the nature of the work.

Submitting Work

Tests, Exams, and Quizzes

Tests and Exams will be written in the University’s Testing Centre on Moodle. Quizzes may be presented in class on Moodle.

Essays and Reports

Essays and reports will normally be collected using on Moodle. The University uses software that checks for similarity to other work and the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Class schedule

Note: This schedule is subject to change.

Week Date Topic Assignment
1 Wed. 4/9 Introduction  
2 Mon. 9/9 O’Connor All students blog
Wed. 11/9 Blog audit Please read all blogs thus far before class
3 Mon. 16/9 Sawai Blogs
Wed. 18/9 Short Story day
4 *Mon. 23/9 * Whitehead Blogs
*Wed. 25/9 *    
5 Sun. 29/9 Unessay #1 Due
Mon. 30/9 Truth and Reconciliation Day (no classes)
Wed. 2/10 Novel day
6 Mon. 7/10 Sir Gawain (Armitrage) Blogs
Wed. 9/10    
7 Mon. 14/10 Thanksgiving (no classes)
Wed. 16/10 Historical writing day
8 Mon. 21/10 Poetry Lecture Blogs
*Wed. 23/10 * TBA Blogs
9 Sun. 27/10 Unessay #2 Due
Mon. 28/10 TBA Blogs
Wed. 30/10 Short poetry day
10 Mon. 4/11 Carson Blogs
Wed. 6/11    
November 11-15 Reading Week (no classes)
11 Mon. 18/11 Long poetry day
Wed. 20/11 Beagan Blogs
12 Mon. 25/11   Blogs
Wed. 27/11    
13 Mon. 2/12 Play day
Wed. 4/12 In class writing
14 Sun. 8/12 Essay Due
Mon. 9/12 Conclusion Blogs
  12/12-20/12 Final Exam Period




Textile help

Back to content

Search my site


Current teaching

Recent changes to this site


anglo-saxon studies, caedmon, citation practice, composition, computers, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, grammar, history, moodle, old english, pedagogy, research, students, study tips, teaching, tips, tutorials, unessay, universities

See all...

Follow me on Twitter