University of West Georgia -- Department of English and Philosophy
1601 Maple Street, Carrollton, Georgia 30118 -- Phone: (678) 839-6512 - Fax: (678) 839-4849

Course Template

The following information should be available to students as a part of all syllabi for this course.

Course Information
Number: ENGL 2300

Catalog Name: Practical Criticism: Research and Methodology
Instructor sub-title (optional)
Instructor Information
Instructor's name:
Office Location:

Office hours:

Required texts and other readings/materials
  • Selected Literary and /or film texts for analysis
  • MLA Handbook for Writers (current edition)
  • Selected readings on critical approaches (e.g. a critical handbook, a glossary of literary terms, selections on electronic reserve, or the Johns Hopkins Online Guide to Literary Theory).

Course description

  • An introduction to representative critical approaches in literary studies, with particular attention to research and methodology. Required for the major in English as a prerequisite to upper-division study.  Prerequisites: ENGL 1101, ENGL 1102, Permission of Dept. Chair.
  • A further specific description pertaining to this section of the course may be added.

Course Goals

  • Students will cultivate skills in reading, writing, and critical analysis appropriate for the advanced English major.

  • Students will understand major critical approaches that are employed in the field of literary studies.

  • Students will be able to read, discuss, and analyze literary works using a variety of critical perspectives.

  • Students will articulate how these perspectives both inform and direct our understanding and appreciation of literature.

  • Students will develop competence in literary analysis from at least three different critical perspectives.

  • Students will organize and complete a substantive research paper that demonstrates the ability to engage effectively in critical research and writing.

  • Students will demonstrate in both oral and written work a discipline-specific critical facility through convincing and well supported analysis of course-related material.

  • Students will demonstrate their command of academic English and of the tenets of sound composition by means of thesis-driven analytical prose.

Program Goals

  • Oral and written communication will be characterized by clarity, critical analysis, logic, coherence, persuasion, precision, and rhetorical awareness (Core Curriculum learning outcomes I)
  • Cultural and Social Perspectives: Cultural and social perspective will be characterized by cultural awareness and an understanding of the complexity and dynamic nature of social/political/economic systems; human and institutional behavior, values, and belief systems; historical and spatial relationship; and, flexibility, open-mindedness, and tolerance. (Core Curriculum learning outcomes III)
  • Aesthetic Perspective: Aesthetic perspective will be characterized by critical appreciation of and ability to make informed aesthetic judgments about the arts of various cultures as media for human expression (Core Curriculum learning outcomes V)
  • This course fulfills an Area F requirement for English majors (all tracks) in the core.
  • This course is required for the major in English as a prerequisite to upper-division study. It is designed to prepare students for their work in the major.
  • This course will contribute to the larger goal of equipping students with a  foundation in literary theory, research, and methods, with an emphasis on the issues surrounding literary study in contemporary culture.
  • Students will develop the analytical, oral and written skills to pursue graduate study or careers in teaching, writing, business and a variety of other fields.
  • Students will be able to define and pursue independent research agendas.
  • This course contributes to the program goal of equipping students with a foundation in literary history and the issues surrounding literary study in contemporary culture.
  • This course broadens students' desire and ability to take pleasure in their encounter with literature.
General topics and assignments appropriate to those topics

This course trains students in the fundamentals of literary interpretation, emphasizing practical strategies of both textual and contextual analysis. In addition, it offers instruction in literary research methods and provides basic introductions to at least three dominant reading approaches of the discipline (e.g., formalism, semiotics, reader-response, ethical criticism, historicism, psychoanalytic theory, structuralism, poststructuralism/deconstruction, Marxism, feminism and gender studies, cultural criticism, postcolonial theory, queer theory, and so on).

Assessment activities

1. The number and kinds of writing assignments may vary (see below) according to the discretion of the professor, provided that each student produces

a) at least 3 formal papers (15-20 pages of formal graded prose) over the course of the term, and

b) at least one study that applies relevant scholarly research in a comprehensive and persuasive manner.

The following general objectives should apply with regard to writing assignments:

a. At least one of the papers should engage students in close textual analysis that may engage a theoretical model but should not draw on outside research materials.

b. One of these papers must be a research project. The final documented paper will demonstrate clear knowledge of and ability to use current MLA style.

c. In preparation for the research paper, individual instructors should design preliminary assignments, such as a prospectus, annotated bibliography, peer review discussion, oral presentation or article analysis, so as to help students define a topic and engage with the research in a meaningful way.


2. Individual instructors may also use quizzes and exams, oral presentations, and other assignments to assess students’ understanding of terms and theoretical frames and their ability to apply these tools.

Other policies
  • Departmental plagiarism policies
  • Other policy statements specific to this class should be included on the syllabus.
  • A detailed calendar of readings and assignments should be made available to the class at the first class meeting. A copy should be posted electronically and kept on file in the English department office.
  • Students should be expected to come to class, prepared and able to participate.
  • MLA style should be emphasized and required on out of class essays.
Last updated 01-03-2008 --Email Susan Holland with problems or questions about the site.