Dr. Mark W. Jordan

ENGL 1302

Composition and Literature


"I have learned to have very modest goals for society and myself, things like clean air, green grass, children with bright eyes, not being pushed around, useful work that suits one's abilities, plain tasty food . . . "

--Paul Goodman

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Writing about Literature ~ Plagiarism ~ About Me ~ Links



  . . . to an online, web-based course in composition and literature offered by Odessa College: English 1302.WB - Composition and Literature (as of Fall 2011, officially labeled Composition Two), a three credit-hour course. Prerequisite: Engl 1301 passed with a "C" or better.  You must also formally register for the course via the Registrar's Office here at Odessa College.

NOTICE:  This course will be taught using Blackboard.  In general, that means once you have logged into Blackboard, you will access your assignments, announcements, and so forth there.  This website will still be crucial, however; it will be where the various assignments and resources are housed for the course.  All crucial links will be accessible from within Blackboard, but a student may still enter this website directly and examine it that way, also.

Note: please realize that in order to complete this course with a passing grade, you will almost certainly need the following items and skills:

  • Daily uninterrupted access to a computer--preferably at home
  • A full-capability word processor such as Microsoft Word or Wordperfect (not Notepad,  etc.)
  • Internet access
  • A web browser and some experience using it
  • A personal OC student email account and experience with email
  • Enough time to check for email and new assignments at least every other weekday, preferably every day, and enough time on a daily basis  for reading the literature and completing the various exercises, tests, and several major writing assignments.  You will do the same work as my on-campus sections.
  • Knowledge of how to attach a file
  • Knowledge of how to save files under certain filenames and in certain required formats (I do go over this with you)
  • Awareness that a web course is not less work than a traditional course
  • Willingness to ask questions!


How This Course Works

This course will be taught as a “skills” course, not as a “content” course, the difference being that you will learn the skill of basic literary interpretation, as opposed to merely memorizing certain given information about the reading selections.  At the same time, you will practice reading comprehension, interpersonal communication and collaboration, written communication, and on the deepest level, general analytical skills applicable to any field.

 The first stage of the course will be to familiarize yourself with eight basic literary devices (listed elsewhere) and the concept of theme.  After these tools are learned, the sequence of study of each assigned short story, drama, or poem will look like this:

  1. Read the assignment by the designated day.
  2. Be prepared to study the assigned work in two ways:
    1. Socratic analysis of literary devices, leading to an understanding of theme.   A "Socratic" analysis is named after the Greek rhetorician Socrates.  It means to answer a series of questions which build one on another and lead to a deeper understanding of the work.   In this course, these will be written, graded assignments on each reading.  They will help take the place of the discussion and/or lecture which would traditionally occur in the classroom.  As such, these assignments are an absolutely crucial step in preparing for the major tests and essays.  When averaged together, they will be worth twenty percent of your course grade.
    2. Online class and/or group discussion.  I envision this as a looser form of item #a, above, much like small group discussion in the classroom.  In practical terms, participation will account for your attendance grade in this course, and will be worth five percent of your course grade.
  3. The immediate goal for each reading will be to use the literary devices as analytical tools with which to discover a valid and useful theme, that is, a moral lesson delivered by the short story, drama, or poem.

The above tasks form the daily routine of the course, designed to help understand the particular work while also practicing the skill of basic literary interpretation.  This skill is also taught on a broader level by the sequence of major assignments in the course, which look like this:

  1. After the short fiction unit, and again after the drama unit, major tests will allow the student to show knowledge of the basic literary devices and of the particular works covered.  A key portion of each test will be essay questions.  These tests will each count 15% of the course grade.  These tests will be taken via Blackboard and must be completed within a certain amount of time after the test is begun.
  2. Shortly after the first test, an interpretive fiction essay will fall due.  The student will write on one of the short stories already covered, and, as done in more piecemeal fashion in the Socratic analysis exercises, will use the literary devices to show a theme for the work.  The challenge is to show a deep enough understanding of the work to teach its meaning and theme, in writing, to someone else.  This essay will also be worth 10% of the course grade.
  3. Most significantly, about midway through the 16-week course, students will begin a research project(Note:  the research project will work differently for summer term students.  Instructions will be provided.)  For the usual research project, the student must choose a short fiction story not covered in class.  In this way, the student shows mastery of the basic skills taught in the course.  The end product will be an essay similar to the interpretive fiction essay in structure, but incorporating research findings which support the student’s interpretation of the work’s theme.  The resulting essay will be worth 15% of the course grade.  Due dates will follow this sequence:
    1. An introductory paragraph with a statement of the story’s theme;
    2. A rough draft of the Works Cited page, using MLA format, and listing the required secondary sources;
    3. The final draft of the paper, which must include usage of each secondary source listed in the Works Cited.
  4. Finally, there will be a final exam.  Twenty percent of the final will cover the last unit, poetry; the rest of the final  will be comprehensive, covering all three types of literature.  The complete final exam will count 20% of the course grade.


Now you should have a basic idea of what to expect in this course.  Your next move is to click the live, underlined link below or in the navigation bar and

Go to the "Getting Started" page and begin working.


Welcome ~ Getting StartedSyllabus ~ Assignments ~

Writing about Literature ~ Plagiarism ~ About Me ~ Links

work: 432.335.6549
surface mail c/o Odessa College, 201 W. University, Odessa TX 79764

This site last modified 08/17/11