English 203: World Literature Syllabus

English 203 H006: World Literature
Syllabus and Course Schedule

Course Instructor: Allison Tharp
Class: LAB 203, T/Th 8:00-9:15
E-mail: Allison.Tharp@eagles.usm.edu
Office Hours: LAB 336, T/Th 9:15-9:45

Required Materials

  • Global Crossroads, Editor: Luis Iglesias; ISBN: 9781598718218
  • Let the Right One In, Author: John Ajvide Lindquist; ISBN: 9780312355296
  • A Lesson Before Dying, Author: Ernest J. Gaines; ISBN: 375702709
  • A functioning USM email address at which you can receive important messages.
  • Access to Blackboard to download and print reading materials.

First, a warning:

Some of the texts we’re reading deal with heavy issues: race, sexuality, abuse, among others. You’ll encounter situations and language in these texts that will make you uncomfortable, and possibly angry. To me, that’s a sign of good literature: if it makes me feel an emotion, bad or good, it has done its job. With that said, if you’re too uncomfortable at any time this semester, come see me and we’ll make a plan together.

Approaching our Study of Literature

This is a discussion-based class. You’ll rarely hear me lecture. Why? Because, unlike math or science, there is never one correct answer when it comes to analyzing literature. Instead, true analysis of literature is a process of questioning what we think we know, how we know it, what that says about the world around us, and ultimately, what that says about ourselves. The only way, in my opinion, to come to a fuller understanding of a literary text is to undergo this process of questioning full force—and discussion helps us to open our horizons, push ourselves out of our comfort zones, and become more willing to see things from different points of view. This class, then, will test your comfort levels. I’ll consistently ask you to push yourself further, to question and analyze information you’re given, and to engage in open and honest discussions with your classmates and me. And remember, I’m right there questioning and learning with you.

Course Description

Some of you may ask why the study of World Literature is important. While there is no short answer to this question, I suspect that ultimately, literature represents the values of a culture and a people, and studying this literature can provide valuable insight into the ways people live, love, suffer, hope, and survive. Studying the ways in which writers represent their own lives in writing will allow us, students in southern Mississippi, to feel more connected to others around the world and realize that the issues that affect us affect others as well.

This course asks students to delve into the literature of various cultures—American, Swedish, British, Asian, among others—in order to come to some conclusions about how literature is used as a representative agent. In particular, we will come to notice that most of the texts we are reading deal with strife in some way, whether it is personal strife or cultural strife, and the subsequent struggle, hope, and attempt to overcome that strife. Through this study, my hope is that we will fine-tune our analytical skills in order to see the ways our own struggles and hopes are intimately connected to those of others.

With this overarching goal in mind, we will also spend time learning about plot development and plot summary, genres, specific literary devices, themes, and connections between texts. Finally, we will develop skills of literary analysis through class discussions and writing assignments.

Student Learning Outcomes as Specified by the General Education Curriculum

After successful completion of this course, students will demonstrate:

  • Students will develop a topic and present ideas through writing in an organized, logical, and coherent form and in a style that is appropriate for the discipline and the situation.
  • Students will use Standard English grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage.
  • Students will evaluate major developments in world history, the historical roots of contemporary global cultures, or the literary, philosophical, or religious contributions of world cultures.
  • Students will comprehend and proficiently interpret text.

Course Policies


Grading Scale:
A = 90-100
B = 80-89
C = 70-79
D = 60-69
F = 0-59

Your final grade for the course will be calculated according to the following breakdown:
Participation= 10%
Final Exam= 25%
Class Blog = 10%
Response Paper= 15%
Close Reading Essay = 15%
Analytical Personal Narrative= 15%
Quizzes= 10%

Participation and Preparation: This is a discussion-based class, and as such it requires that you participate in class discussions. Preparing for class means having the texts with you and being ready to discuss and intelligently question issues raised by the material. This does not mean, however, that you must master the material. On the contrary, it is perfectly reasonable that you may be confused by some readings the first time we encounter them. But, in such cases, you should be prepared to discuss what you found puzzling, aggravating, thought-provoking, engaging, or difficult about the text.

Final Exam: An in-class exam that will test your comprehension of the texts we’ve read. Expect any of the following: multiple choice, matching, quote identification, short answer, essay question. To be taken during the university-scheduled exam time for our class.

Class Blog: Accessed through Blackboard, our class Blogger site is a place for you to respond to prompts and post items/discussions of things related to our class readings and class discussions. Must have five posts.

Response Paper: A short essay (750 words min.) where you will create a thesis-driven argument about what you learned through reading Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying.

Close Reading Essay: A short essay (750 words min.) in which you will engage in close reading and analysis of a small piece of text. Thesis-driven argument.

Analytical Personal Narrative: A longer essay (1000 words min.) in which you will analyze a text while incorporating personal narrative and cultural evidence. Thesis-driven argument.

Quizzes: There will be a total of seven reading quizzes. However, only five of these quizzes will count. Therefore, students will get to miss two quizzes without penalty. Each quiz is worth twenty points. The quizzes will be given randomly, sometimes at the beginning of class, sometimes in the middle, and sometimes toward the end of class. The quizzes will amount to 10% of the final grade.

*Reminder: Attendance issues, class participation issues, and class cooperation issues may result in automatic grade reductions or failure of the course.

*Note: All essays must be uploaded to Turnitin AND printed out and turned in to me on the day they are due.


Students who accumulate more than three absences over the course of the semester will automatically have their final grade lowered, a letter grade for each subsequent absence. More than six absences will result in failure of the course. No in-class activities (including quizzes) may be made up due to tardiness or absence.

I will bend this policy only in the event of university-sanctioned absences, such as military training/service, athletic competitions/travel, or family/medical emergencies. In the latter case, I will need to receive documentation from the Assistant of the Vice President for Student Affairs.


Late work is not accepted. If you find you are having trouble completing and assignment on time, I expect you to come to me well in advance, and, depending on the situation, you and I can come up with a timeline that will work for us both. Unless specified otherwise, no papers submitted electronically—or magically appearing in my mailbox—will be accepted.


The use of laptops and/or tablets is acceptable for productive purposes—like using them for our electronic readings or taking notes. Using these devices for anything other than class related business (i.e. THIS class, not your homework for physics 101) is unacceptable and your participation grade will be lowered.


All members of the academic community at the University of Southern Mississippi are expected to take responsibility for academic honesty and integrity. Plagiarism—the willful copying/presenting of another person’s work as if it is your own—and other forms of cheating are unacceptable. The penalties for such behavior can include failure of the course and, in some cases, expulsion from the university. If you have any doubts about what constitutes plagiarism, please refer to your student handbook, to USM policies on Academic Honesty, or come talk to me.


If a student has a disability that qualifies under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and requires accommodations, he/she should contact the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) for information on appropriate policies and procedures. Disabilities covered by ADA may include learning, psychiatric, physical disabilities, or chronic health disorders. Students can contact ODA if they are not certain whether a medical condition/disability qualifies.

The University of Southern Mississippi
Office for Disability Accommodations
118 College Drive # 8586
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
Voice Telephone: 601.266.5024 or 228. 214.3232 Fax: 601. 266.6035
Individuals with hearing impairments can contact ODA using the Mississippi Relay Service at 1.800.582.2233 (TTY) or e-mail Suzy Hebert at Suzanne.Hebert@usm.edu.

Course Resources


The Writing Center is a wonderful space in which assistance is made available to all students at the University of Southern Mississippi. It offers one-on-one help with any kind of writing project, at any stage of the writing process. Please note, however, that it is not the job of the Writing Center staff to correct your documents. Rather, tutors will assist you in thinking through and improving the efficacy of your written work. The Writing Center is located in Cook Library 112. For more information and hours of operation, you may contact The Writing Center at 601.266.4821, or visit the website at: http://www.usm.edu/writingcenter/.


The University of Southern Mississippi offers a Speaking Center, with consultations available at no cost to all students, faculty, and staff. The center is available for advice on all types of oral communication—formal individual presentations, group presentations, class discussions, class debates, interviews, campus speeches, etc.  Tutors at the Speaking Center will work with you on brainstorming, organizing and outlining, editing and revising, and delivering. The center also offers several practice rooms for recording presentations and practicing with delivery aids (PowerPoint and internet access are available). Visit the center in Cook Library 117, call the center at 601.266.4965, or visit the website at: http://www.usm.edu/speakingcenter.


To access the online components of this course, you must first go to https://usm.blackboard.com, then follow the log-in instructions. You will need to have your EMPLID and password (the same information you use to access SOAR and register for classes). If you have any questions or run into difficulty accessing the Blackboard material for this course, please call the iTech Help Desk at 601-266-4357 or helpdesk@usm.edu. You can also get specific instructions on how to use components of Blackboard by visiting http://www.usm.edu/elo.


I actually, literally, want all of you to pass this course. I want you to do well, I want you to invest in your grade, I want you to improve in some way, and I want this to be a comfortable and fun learning environment. BUT, there are 36 of you and one of me. This means that if you need something, you must come to me. I am always available during office hours, to meet during other times, and via email. Having open communication with me is the best move you can make to successfully pass this course.



All scheduled readings are to be done before class, and you must bring the text with you to class. If it’s a Blackboard reading, you must print it and bring it to class. This schedule is subject to change at my discretion.

BB= blackboard; GC= Global Crossroads


Week 1:

Tues 1/13: “The Tell Tale Heart”; Introductions to each other; introduction to course; syllabus review
HW: Reading: Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying chs. 1-6 (pp. 3-50); Writing: Writing Sample (In 200-400 words, answer the following question: why should we feel sympathy for the narrator of Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart”?)

Thurs 1/15: Writing sample DUE; Discuss reading; Introduce project 1
HW: Reading: A Lesson Before Dying chs. 7-19 (pp. 51-151)


Week 2: (Blog Post 1 due by Friday at 5)

**1/20: Last day to add/drop without academic penalty/received 100% tuition refund**

Tues 1/20: Discuss reading; discuss thesis and project 1
HW: Reading: A Lesson Before Dying chs. 20-25 (pp. 152-203)

Thurs 1/22: Discuss reading; discuss thesis and intro
HW: Reading: Finish A Lesson Before Dying Writing: create a working thesis statement and introduction; create a working outline


Week 3:

Tues,    1/27: Group work with thesis statements; discuss organization
HW: Writing: revise thesis; write at least two body paragraphs; create a list of quotes from the text you may want to incorporate into the paper

Thurs, 1/29: Group workshop; in-class writing; introduce Gilgamesh
HW: Writing: Finish Paper 1; Reading: The Epic of Gilgamesh tablets 1-9 (GC 4-53)


Week 4: (Blog post 2 due by Friday at 5)

Tues,    2/3: Project I DUE; decompression; introduce project 2; discuss Gilgamesh
HW: Reading: Finish The Epic of Gilgamesh

Thurs, 2/5: Discuss Gilgamesh; Introduce Electra; introduce close reading and discuss project 2
HW: Reading: Sophocles’ Electra (GC 307-345)


Week 5:

Tues,    2/10: Discuss Electra; discuss close reading and project 2
HW: Reading: Finish Sophocles’ Electra (GC)

Thurs, 2/12: Discuss reading; introduce Shakespeare
HW: Reading: Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors (BB); Writing: choose which text to focus on for project 2 and find a passage you’d be interested in writing about


Week 6:

Tues,    2/17: No class: Mardi Gras Break

Thurs, 2/19: Discuss reading; practice close reading; discuss thesis
HW: Writing: Create a working thesis statement


Week 7: (Blog post 3 due Friday by 5)

Tues,    2/24: Thesis workshop; discuss organization
HW: Writing: Write introduction and a detailed outline for project 2

Thurs, 2/26: Writing workshop
HW: Writing: Write at least two body paragraphs for project 2


Week 8:

Tues,    3/3: Writing workshop
HW: Writing: Draft of project 2

Thurs, 3/5: Workshop; Introduce Lindquist
HW: Writing : Finish project 2; Reading: Lindquist’s Let the Right One In


Week 9:

Tues,    3/10: No Class: Spring Break

Thurs, 3/12: No Class: Spring Break


Week 10: (Blog Post 4 due Friday by 5)

Tues,    3/17: Project 2 DUE; decompression; Discuss reading; introduce project 3
HW: Reading: Finish Let the Right One In

Thurs, 3/19: Discuss reading; discuss project 3; introduce South Asian writers
HW: Reading: Amma’s “The Subordinate” and Basu’s “Aunty” (GC 135-136; 151-177)


Week 11:

Tues,    3/24: Discuss readings; discuss project 3; introduce Rizal
HW: Reading: Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere (GC 291-306)

Thurs, 3/26: Discuss readings; discuss project 3; Introduce Faulkner
HW: Reading: Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” (GC 179-196); choose which text to focus on for project 3


Week 12:

**4/1: Last day to withdraw**

Tues,    3/31: Discuss project 3; discuss thesis; discuss introductions
HW: Writing: Create a working thesis statement

Thurs,  4/2: Thesis workshop; Discuss introduction
HW: Writing: Write intro and outline for project 3


Week 13:

Tues,    4/7: Discuss project 3; writing workshop; discuss organization and cultural evidence
HW: Writing: Write 2 body paragraphs

Thurs, 4/9: Writing workshop; Open group Q & A
HW: Writing: draft of project 3


Week 14: (Blog Post 5 due Friday by 5)

Tues,    4/14: Writing workshop
HW: Writing: Full draft of project 3

Thurs, 4/16: Writing Workshop
HW: Writing: Finish Project 3


Week 15:

Tues,    4/21: Project 3 DUE; decompression; final exam review
HW: Writing: Create three questions you’d expect to see on the final

Thurs   4/23: Final review
HW: Study!


Week 16:

Tues     4/28: Final Review
HW: Study!

Thurs   4/30: Final Review; Summation of Class

__________________________________________________________________________________________________                   ********EXAM WEEK********

FINAL EXAM: Tuesday, May 5 from 8:00-10:30 a.m. in LAB 203


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