COURSE DESCRIPTION 3 hrs. 3 crs. Prose, poetry and drama of the Middle Ages and the English Renaissance, including such major figures as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne and Milton. Preq: ENG 126 or ENG 200. This is a hybrid course.


This section of 328 will challenge you to consider the influence of new technologies (manuscript, print, digital) in the development of early literature. As we discuss poems, plays, and prose, we will strive to understand the connections between cultural and historical developments and try to re-imagine our own early modern history by creating a time-travelling card game.


Greenblatt, Stephen ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature Vol 1. New York: W. W. Norton: 2012.


Learning Outcomes: By the end of this course, students will be expected to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of relevant historical and cultural contexts about the Medieval and Early Modern periods, including literary movements, major social trends, significant political events, and canonicity.
  2. Identify and analyze relevant genres and forms like devotional writing, lyric and epic poetry, sonnet, and drama.
  3. Understand and practice the skill of close textual reading by linking (and questioning!) authorial intention with textual analysis.
  4. Acquire and employ a basic vocabulary of literary and critical terms.
  5. Perform comparative analysis of two or more texts.


ATTENDANCE: Attendance is essential to success in this course. In addition to meeting face-to-face (f2f), students will be required to devote one (1) hour weekly to online assignments such as posting blogs, tweeting, and commenting on peers’ work

The student is responsible for all material presented in this course and is expected to actively participate in the learning process.  Students are responsible for obtaining material from missed classes. Students must obtain any class notes from fellow classmates. Please inform the instructor about any health conditions that could create a classroom emergency. The student is responsible for discussing with the instructor any needed accommodations.  Repeated tardiness or early leave from class is not acceptable and will actively impact the student’s grade.

Absences will affect your grade in the following way:

  • Students may miss no more than two (2) sessions, which should be reserved for unforeseen emergencies. Please note that I do not distinguish between “excused” or “unexcused” absences, so use your time thoughtfully.
  • Three (3) absences automatically lower the student’s participation grade by 10%. Four (4) or more absences are grounds for failure.
  • Half absences:
    • Missing segments of class—arriving late, departing early, or leaving during class– counts as half an absence.
    • Missing online posts and late posts will result in a half-absence
    • Active reading is active participation! If I see that you do not have the reading or have it but did not annotate your text, you will earn a half absence for the day.
    • Roll call will be conducted every day at the start of class. If you’re not in class by that time, you will be marked as late.

Dropping the class

Make sure you pay careful attention to how dropping a course may affect your financial aid. See here for more information: https://www.york.cuny.edu/administrative/finaid/frequenly-asked-questions/what-happens-to-my-financial-aid-if-i-drop-a-course

September 15: Withdrawal period begins.

November 10: Last day to withdraw from a course. After this date all enrolled students will receive a final grade.


In order to avoid such penalties students will have to discuss the exceptional reasons for absence with the instructor, preferably ahead of time, and provide viable proof of emergency. This means: keep me in the loop! If I don’t know, I can’t help. And, please, take responsibility for your choices.


York College Resources

This class requires the use of computers and the internet for completion of assignments. Computers with word processing software and internet access are available in the library and in computer labs.


Located in the Academic Core 1C18, The Writing Center assists students with writing skills. The Center offers scheduled tutoring, drop-in tutoring and workshops. For more information, stop by, call (718) 262-2494, or check the Writing Center Website.

  • English as Second Language (ESL) Tutoring Center:

Tutoring is available for ESL students in Academic Core 3C08. Call (718) 262-2831 for schedule.

  • Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities may contact the STAR Program to learn about and gain access to resources available to them at the college. See their website at http://york.cuny.edu/student-development/star for more details.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:  The main components to successful completion of this course:

Online Posting and Discussions 100 pts. (10%)
Reading Quizzes and Participation 100 pts. (10%)
Group-led Discussion 150 pts. (15%)
Critical Write-Ups 100 pts. (10%)
Project 1: OED Close-Reading 200 pts. (20%)
Project 2: Commonplace Book 300 pts. (30%)
Final Exam 50 pts. (5%)

TOTAL = 1000 pts.

All written assignments, including short responses, are required to follow proper MLA documentation. We will revise MLA guidelines in class, but you should be prepared to consult recommended links and resources whenever necessary.

NOTE: You will receive detailed assignment instructions along with grading rubrics for each of the projects below roughly three weeks before they are due. The instructions and details will be covered in class (see schedule). Budget your time accordingly to keep up with due dates!



The online portions of our class will be run on a CUNY Academic Commons website. Assignments, instructions, and discussion questions will be posted on this website, so keep track of it by bookmarking it on your browser. The most updated schedule for our course will also be on this site. This is a hybrid course: it requires reliable access to a computer, the internet, and occasionally signing up for free tools.

Responses, blogs, and discussions should be submitted to our course site. Projects 1 and 2 will be submitted via Blackboard. Grades and instructor feedback will be available on Blackboard approximately 7 days after deadline.


In order to fulfill the online portion of our class, you will be asked to watch videos, visit websites, and engage in conversations on our course site. You should plan to check-in with our site activity at least twice a week and sign up for email updates.

Periodically, you will participate in class-wide discussions led by a group of your peers (see #3 below). You should always make an effort to engage with other posts, ask questions, and propel conversations forward. Do not post to the vaccum!


Periodically throughout the semester you will be asked to complete short, in-class reading quizzes or to prepare written responses to assigned readings. Quizzes may ask you to discuss a short passage, identify themes or genres within the reading, or paraphrase lines. Please note: if you are not present for a reading quiz, you will automatically earn a zero for that assignment.


This discussion will be a better experience for all of us if everyone comes to class ready and willing to be a part of it.  Please plan on taking part in exciting conversations, asking hard questions, and engaging with the material in new ways. You will occasionally be asked to read text out loud, so be sure to bring your books with you to all class meetings.


During the first week of classes, you will sign up to deliver (in-person) group presentations and to (digitally) lead and moderate discussion of one of our assigned readings. Discussion questions and moderation will take place during the week prior to in-class discussion.

4) Critical Write-Ups (2 pages)

Four times throughout the semester you will be asked to post short critical pieces connecting our readings for the week with larger issues such as politics, identity, gender, and ideology. Your goal for these write-ups is to offer a thoughtful argument or provocation that showcases your close-reading and analytical skills.

PROJECT 1: OED Close-Reading (3-4 pages)

This essay will ask you to consider how history and meaning work together in textual interpretation. After making a list of vocabulary words and consulting the Oxford English Dictionary Online (OED), you will write a short analysis of a one of our medieval readings considering a range of interpretations for the words (and themes) of your choice.

PROJECT 2: Commonplace Book (and checkpoints)

Our semester-long project will ask you to keep a commonplace book in the format of your choice (digital or analog). We will learn in class about the nature and purposes of commonplace books and their evolving role in contemporary culture. Early in the term, you will select a text (or texts) from our textbook that has not been assigned in class. You will spend the term researching our readings from a variety of perspectives, using your commonplace book to record notes, ideas, and analyses. In addition to being graded on the final version of your CB, you will also be asked to submit graded reflections with an update on the process and to meet for conferences to discuss your work.

You can make-up for small-stakes work (e.g. quizzes, discussion) or extra credit by memorizing and declaiming a poem or by reading the start of the Canterbury Tales in Middle English. You can only make this presentation once.


A+ =97.0-100

A  =93.0-96.9

A- =90.0-92.9


B =83.0-86.9


C+= 77.0-79.9

C =73.0-76.9



D= 60.0-66.9

CHEATING & PLAGIARISM:    The English Department abides by York’s policies on academic dishonesty, and considers all forms of cheating as unacceptable. Plagiarism includes copying language, texts, and visuals without citation (e.g., cutting and pasting from websites).  Plagiarism also includes submitting papers that were written by another student or downloaded from the internet. York College describes cheating and plagiarism as:

  1. “Cheating is the unauthorized use or attempted us of material, information, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise.”
  2. “Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research, or writings as your own.”

Plagiarism is a serious academic offense:  the minimum penalty for plagiarism is an F for the assignment; the full penalty for plagiarism may result in an F for the course.  Cases of plagiarism may be reported to the York College’s Academic Integrity Officer. Information about plagiarism procedures is available here: http://www.york.cuny.edu/president/legal-compliance/legal-affairs/cuny-legal-policies-procedures/Academic-Integrity-Policy.pdf  Assignments in ENG 328 may be submitted to Safe Assign for plagiarism check.

CLASSROOM CONTRACT:  This syllabus (in its entirety) is a legally binding contract between students and the professor. As with any contract, breaking previously discussed agreements will incur penalties. By remaining in this class you agree to the policies stated in the course syllabus and agree to follow its guidelines.


  1. Respect your peers: All Students are expected to conduct themselves in an adult manner. Keep in mind that our class is a place to share ideas and questions, but it is also a shared space which demands mutual respect and understanding. If you feel like your gadgets or your friends may be disruptive to the class, please keep yourself in check.
  2. Take responsibility. If you leave your work to the last minute, skip classes, consistently show up late, sleep or chat during class, your grade will suffer. Do not rely on your professors to make up or accept excuses for your behavior. Keep track of your grades and budget your time to accommodate for the demands of the class. Note: this is a hidden comment to ensure you have read the syllabus carefully. If you see this note, add a picture of an otter and an otter pun to your bio page.
  3. Ask for help when you need it. I am happy to discuss drafts, outlines, or ideas during my office hours. As noted above, my office hours are from 4:00-6:00 pm on Mondays, but we can make digital appointments as needed. I consider this your time, and I encourage you to make use of it. Please don’t think of meeting with me as something to do only as a last resort but rather as an important and integral part of your learning.
  4. Technology Problems: This course relies heavily on access to computers and the Internet. At some point during the semester you WILL have a problem with technology: your laptop will crash, a file will become corrupted, a server will go down, or something else will occur. These are facts of life, not emergencies. Sadly, technological excuses (“my printer died,” etc.) cannot be accepted under any circumstances. Always make back-ups for your work, and plan ahead so that you will have time to use the on-campus computers and printers if necessary.
  5. Keep your eye on the class, not your screen.Students should not take or make calls, text message, or otherwise use electronic devices during class, except to access course-related materials. Students caught texting or disrupting the class in any way will earn an unexcused absence for the day. 
  6. I do not distinguish between “excused” and “unexcused” absences. After you have missed two classes, penalties will apply.
  7. Missing class: You are expected to make up work if you are not here, and to submit assignments by the deadline even if you miss class.If you will miss class the day an assignment is due it is still your responsibility to turn in a hard copy of that assignment before it is due.
  8. Late Work: Small assignments automatically lose 10% of the total grade for each late date. This means you have 9 days to submit late Critical Write-Ups before they stop counting for points. Major papers will not be accepted past the due date, except at my discretion (with a significant grading penalty). Assignment deadlines are not flexible. No comments will be provided for any late work.
  9. You may email or talk to me at any time with questions. But first: CHECK THE SYLLABUS. The answer to many of your questions might be in this very document. I will do my best to respond within 24-48 hours. If you send me an email at 1am, you probably won’t get a response until the next day (even if your paper was due at midnight!).


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