English 470

ENGL 470
The Author in Context

Catalog Entry

ENGL 470. The Author in Context (WI)
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisites: CORE 101 and CORE 102

Study of a single author's work in view of the literary, biographical, historical and cultural contexts that shaped it and the critical contexts within which it is read. The course emphasizes instruction and practice in writing for complex rhetorical situations within the discipline of English Studies.  May be taken more than once for credit with focus on a different author.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The course examines the full range of a single writer's work within the many contexts that shaped it and the various critical perspectives that enliven study of that author. Though the author examined in each section of the course varies, every section examines materials such as the primary texts by the author; the biographical, historical, social or cultural contexts that shaped his or her work; primary texts by other writers whose work is important to the author under consideration; and secondary criticism about the author. Following the guidelines for the content, goals and objectives, and assessment measures in the departmental syllabus for this course, faculty will propose sections focusing on individual authors in areas of the faculty member’s expertise.

The second of the required writing-intensive courses in the major, ENGL 470 stresses writing in the discipline, with particular emphasis upon awareness of rhetorical context and effective writing for a specific audience and purpose. As students confront the complex writing situations posed by studying an author in multiple contexts, they must develop more sophisticated research, thinking, and writing skills. Thus, some instructional time is devoted to considerations such as strategies for focusing on a thesis in contextualized study of an author; defining a specific audience and purpose; drafting and revision; and editing for clarity, coherence, and grace. The instructor will intervene at appropriate points in the students' writing to offer substantive comments concerning drafting and revision.

Primary texts may include:

  • literary texts by the author, including the various genres in which he or she wrote;
  • the author's letters, journals, or notebooks if available;
  • topical or occasional essays by the author if applicable;
  • primary texts by other writers whose works shed light upon the author examined in the course.

Biographical, historical, cultural, and social contexts may include:

  • biographies of the author;
  • the history of the period in which the author lived;
  • the social practices and material circumstances that characterized daily life during the author's life;
  • the literary history pertinent to the author, members of his or her "circle," and the genres in which he or she wrote;
  • the cultural discourses that shaped the author's works, such as theology, philosophy, science, ethics, conduct literature, etiquette literature, travel and exploration literature, and other popular or “high” cultural discourses.

Literary critical contexts may include any number of critical approaches to the study of the author selected from the wide range of available contemporary critical practices.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

ENGL 470 uses a wide variety of instructional strategies which may include any number of the following: lecture; discussion; PowerPoint or web-enhanced instruction; collaborative group work; individual or group student reports to elucidate primary texts or pertinent biographical, historical, social, cultural, and literary critical contexts; student PowerPoint or web-enhanced presentations on primary texts or pertinent contexts; individual or group student creative presentations on course material; informal writing-to-learn activities including in-class focused writing, readers' logs, double-entry reading journals, or discussion questions; audio-visual resources on authors or pertinent contexts; library instructional workshops to reinforce students' information literacy and knowledge of resources available on individual authors; peer writing groups on drafts; individual or group conferences with the instructor on drafts. The writing component of the course reinforces students' mastery of their own writing process, emphasizing finding an appropriate topic, drafting, revision, and editing. The instructor will intervene in the student's writing process to afford substantive comments so that students learn how to revise effectively with a specific thesis, audience, and purpose in mind.


Goals and Objectives of Course

Having successfully completed this course, the student will be able to:

  • explain how an awareness of biographical, historical, literary, cultural, and social contexts affects the interpretation of an author's works;
  • place the particular author examined in the course in his or her precise historical, cultural, and literary historical contexts;
  • explain the relation between the particular author's texts and their historical and literary contexts;
  • identify and discuss some of the central thematic and aesthetic concerns of the author examined in the course;
  • identify and discuss some of the stylistic qualities of the author examined in the course;
  • identify and deploy a number of literary critical strategies in analyzing the work of the particular author;
  • identify and assess the work of some literary critics and scholars who have written about the author;
  • access electronic and printed sources pertinent to the study of the author examined in the course;
  • evaluate the reliability of electronic and print sources;
  • write an effective essay using some scholarly and critical sources in order to examine the work of one author within an illuminating context or contexts;
  • write effectively in the discipline of English Studies;
  • write an essay of literary analysis or appreciation focused on a clear thesis that effectively addresses a particular audience for a specific purpose;
  • use proper MLA documentation;
  • produce prose that is grammatically correct and stylistically effective.


Assessment Measures

ENGL 470 uses a variety of assessment measures, which may include a number of the following:

  • informal writing-to-learn activities such as reader's logs, double-entry reading journals, discussion questions;
  • tests or quizzes on assigned readings or contextual information;
  • in-class or take-home essay exams on assigned readings;
  • researched or non-researched essays on the author and works examined in the course;
  • an annotated bibliography of research sources;
  • a working bibliography of research sources;
  • a bibliographic essay analyzing research into biographical, historical, social, cultural, and literary contexts;
  • a research project and final essay focused on a single work or several works by the author studied in the course;
  • short critical essays examining a literary work within an informing historical, social, cultural, or literary context;
  • short critical essays using specific literary critical strategies to analyze a work;
  • short critical essays to analyze the formal qualities and meanings of particular works;
  • short creative pieces to imitate the style or themes of the author examined in the course;
  • short imaginative pieces that extend or revise the point of view of a particular work by the author examined in the course;
  • a researched essay that examines a work or work by the author within an informing historical, social, cultural, literary, or critical context or contexts.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

October, 2009