ENGL 152 W

Summer Session 1: Jun. 1 – Jun. 24


Paul L. Hebert, Instructor

Quickest way: through the class Slack Workspace, in a direct message or with an @Paul.

Alternatively, for some assignments, by email:

Yes, that’s Paul standing by signs with his name on it, pretending to read a newspaper.

From the Catalog

An introduction to the development of American literature from its beginnings to the twentieth century through a study of selected poetry, drama, fiction, and/or nonfictional prose. Authors studied may include Thoreau, Hawthorne, Whitman, Dickinson, O’Neill, Hemingway, and Wright. Designed for non-majors.

This course is a Writing Intensive (W) course and fulfills one Writing Intensive requirement. W classes include a significant portion of time devoted to writing instruction. This may include things such as revision workshops, discussions of rhetorical strategies, or reflective writing about writing assignments.

This is a general education course that satisfies two Pathways requirements (Literature requirement (LIT) for the Queens College Core and US Experience in its Diversity (USED) requirement for the Flexible Common Core), but it cannot satisfy both requirements simultaneously.

Walters Art Museum. “Politics in an Oyster House.” 1848. John H. B. Latrobe, Baltimore, 1848. Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Richard_Caton_Woodville_-_Politics_in_an_Oyster_House_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Course Workload

A typical three-credit-hour course meets for an hour and a half, twice a week, for fifteen weeks. Do the math and by the end of the semester you’ve spent forty-five hours in class. That’s important because it’s the amount of instruction, or it’s equivalent, that state and federal law rules require for colleges to be able to grant degrees.

In the summer, the school still has to provide forty-five hours of instruction. To fit the condensed session, that same three-credit-hour course meets four times a week, for three hours, for four weeks.

Consider the implication: the school expects students in the Summer 1 session to cover a week’s worth of material each day, or roughly a month’s worth of material each week.

Consider also that this is a writing intensive course, which means, according to Queens college, “least 5000 words (15 pages) of evaluated writing in three or more assignments (either separate papers or one term paper done in stages) so that the students have the opportunity to develop and improve. At least one assignment (graded or ungraded) must require student revision in response to instructor feedback.”

I have designed this course to meet our responsibilities but to also be manageable. Still, to meet these expectations we’ll all have to work hard. You’ll have to read and write at length several times a week and I’ll have to hustle to provide feedback quickly enough to be useful. We’ll all also be dealing with the challenges and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and so we’ll need to be flexible.

We can make revisions the the class schedule as necessary, but I’ll only know when this needs to be done from your feedback. Because of the pace of the course, intervention needs to be quick, too, so it’s important that you reach out to me as soon as you have questions, concerns, or your circumstances change in a way that you think may affect your performance in this class.


  • Demonstrate familiarity with some of the major questions and issues animating current scholarship in American literature including over the scope and focus of the field;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with some of the political, cultural,and social issues that influences specific American texts;
  • Engage with the discussion of canon formation and nationalism, specifically in the American context;
  • Practice the elements of academic writing, including creating an original thesis, scholarly research, use of evidence and professional MLA style.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in your writing and develop strategies for improvement.
  • Make connections with other courses in terms of both content and methods of critical inquiry.

Class Structure

This is a large class, twenty-five students. In a physical classroom that’s manageable but it’s harder online. So you’ll be divided among four groups, each named for a different pattern: Plaid, Paisley, Herringbone and Houndstooth. You were assigned to the groups randomly and they may change. But for now, you’ll see your group when you log onto Slack.

Each group may receive different prompts. Monday, Team Paisley may be responding to question 1 while Team Herringbone responds to question 2.

The plan is to use these groups to help you. You’ll have 6-8 people that you deal with regularly on whom you can rely. You’ll also engage with the full class, but the folks in your group you’ll be in close contact with the whole time.

For me, it’s easier to check on four groups than it is to individually monitor everyone (and seriously, who wants me to individually monitor them, anyway!?!).

Each day, Monday through Thursday I’ll post a daily check-in to Slack. This check-in will have brief announcements and usually describe the activities and questions you’ll be answering. You should react to that response with an emoji (a thumbs-up, a pizza, whatever) to show you’ve read it. You can also ask questions there.

The week will begin on Monday with a text to read and some basic questions around four aspects of the text: character, plot, interpretation, and value. We’ll discuss these terms in more detail each week, but expect group questions to fall into these categories. So one day Team Herringbone might have a character-specific question and the next a value-specific question.

As a result, each week your group will focus on a specific aspect of texts rather than the whole thing. By Thursday, your group will “present,” by publishing to a class-wide Slack channel, some analysis through this lens. That means everyone will have access to these posts and may rely on them (and their groups’ work) as they write the formal essays over the weekend.

My job, as an instructor, is to make sure the daily questions each week add up to enough analysis to make a good formal essay possible.

Digital Tools

We’ll be using this course website, email, Slack and Manifold for the duration of the session. If you’re seeing this, you’re already on the course website. You can join the Slack workspace and Manifold from links on the Schedule page. Below is more detailed information on each tool.

Class Site

This class website is the definitive source for course materials, policies, and deadlines. Check it often.

The course website (the one you’re reading now) is http://hebert.link/152w.

The Resources page has copies of required class readings and materials for you to link to or download. The list is styled according to MLA 8 guidelines, so readings are arranged alphabetically by authors’ surnames. The page is password protected because it contains copyrighted materials. The password is hebert.

Class Slack Workspace

Instead of gathering in-person in a classroom, we will gather in a Slack Workspace. Like a classroom, this space includes only the people enrolled in our class; but unlike a classroom, it will always be open for you to contribute. I’ll check everything daily, but don’t expect me to monitor it 24/7.

Jump to the class Slack workspace with this link (use the link on the schedule if you have not created an account yet): https://2020hebert152w.slack.com/

CUNY Manifold

Manifold is an online e-reader that allows annotation, highlighting, and other collaborative features. All of our out-of-copyright texts will be hosted on CUNY’s installation of Manifold.

Here’s the main website: https://cuny.manifoldapp.org/

Required Texts

You are not required to purchase any texts for this course. Instead, we will make use of a free-to-use digital edition of each text required for class and use an app to annotate most of the texts in ways that may be helpful for discussion and writing. Links to these digital editions are available on class website, on the Resources page. Epub files can also be downloaded from Manifold, if you want to use a stand-alone e-reader.


This primarily a discussion course with informal discussion on Slack. Informal discussion means you can be yourself. Use the language comfortable to you. I strongly believe you can be informal and still be precise, careful and intelligent. But since this is a writing course you will also write four short formal essays — one each week. These essays will require language that is more accessible than every-day slang, clearly planned structures, and careful attention to transitions and arguments.

Formal Essays

You will write four formal essays according to professional style guidelines (we’ll use the guidelines published by the Modern Language Association [MLA] because it’s the professional organization of Literature scholars. The MLA is like the bar for lawyers or the American Medical Association for doctors).

Each week you’ll work on a text with your group and the class. Over the weekend you’ll write a formal essay responding to a specific question about the text(s) and submit it Sunday evening. This essay should be about 750-1000 words (3-4 pages, double-spaced), follow MLA style guidelines (including a Works Cited page), and be an honest reflection of your thoughts and analysis of the texts.

You’ll receive feedback on these essays but only the final essay will be graded. The idea is that you’ll have three-rounds of feedback on your writing before you finally tackle the last essay. You can turn in the final essay early and receive feedback for revision as many times as you want.

NOTE: Digital files should be emailed to your instructor as attachments (please do not “share” the document). Microsoft Word or PDF format only (.doc, .docx, .pdf).

Posting to Slack

We were technically scheduled to meet four times a week, Monday through Thursday. I’m using those days as deadlines. You can expect to post to Slack daily, Monday through Thursday, each week. The deadline is open. I appreciate posting earlier so I have time to read and respond, but as long as you post by 10am the next day, you’re okay. That means a post listed on the schedule under Thursday, June 4 is ideally done by the evening, but isn’t “technically” due until 10am on June 5th. If you’re a night owl, I understand. Post at 1 or 3 in the morning.


A syllabus is a kind of contract between students and instructors. The contract can seem especially one-sided when instructors define what is expected and students passively consent by remaining enrolled. 

To emphasize our shared stakes in the class I use contracts that define the responsibilities of students and instructors. Like all contracts, ours will be negotiated. Through discussions, we’ll shape a shared vision for this class and define the expectations for each letter grade. You’ll sign a copy of the finalized contract and  indicate the final grade towards which you’ll work. We’ll use this agreement to measure your success in the course. 

Read over the suggested contract and make notes, questions, comments, or suggestions in the #contract channel on Slack or the first day questionnaire.

I can’t emphasize how important this is. I wrote this contract and I use it every semester so I’m well-versed in its intricacies. You want to advocate for yourself and your colleagues. Suggest changes that make your scholarly life better and explain why.

I often tell students about the first job offer I received out of college. At the hiring, I was told my salary and then told to go home and think about it. “Oh!” I thought, “I’m supposed to negotiate!” Of course I was. But it was in my boss’ interest to pay me as little as possible to get the most value from me. I needed to advocate for what I thought was my true value.

In this situation, you need to advocate for what will make you a better learner, since that’s the value you want from this class. If there’s something in the contract you think is unreasonable, you owe it to yourself and your classmates to speak up.

I think this contract is generally fair. I change it for students every semester, though. I will argue why I thin it’s fair, but I recognize a good argument that’s made and in the end it’ll be a majority that determines the final contract.

You can find the contract here, and you’ll have questions about it on the first day questionnaire: Contract


Plagiarism is using or imitating the language or ideas of another author without acknowledging it, usually in the form of a phrase or citation. One example of plagiarism is copying passages from a source and using them in your writing without quotation marks or citation. Another example is incorporating another author’s ideas but changing the words, without acknowledgement.  

If you plagiarize you risk receiving no credit for the assignment and failing the course. If you’re unsure whether language you are using in your paper is someone else’s, include a citation as best you can to be safe, and contact your instructor with your questions. 

Writing Center

The Writing Center helps students put together stronger, more effective pieces of writing. You can work with tutors in-person and online, on everything from the smallest pieces of writing (for example, free writes or outlines) to more complex pieces of writing (such as research papers or creative writing assignments). 


Special Accommodation

Students needing academic accommodation should contact the Office of Special Services in 171 Kiely Hall at 718-997-5870.