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Literature (3 credits)
The primary goal of the literature learning outcomes is to provide students with the ability to approach literature as a historical, cultural and aesthetic object of inquiry. Students are introduced to the three principal genres of literary expression—fiction, poetry and drama—and to a variety of methods of interpreting literary texts within historical and cultural contexts. Students are also enjoined to master the key skills of oral and written argumentation, including close reading, identifying and incorporating appropriate textual evidence.
Literature Learning Outcomes
- Critical Thinking. A) Identify textual patterns, perform close analysis, synthesize ideas and formulate compelling questions suitable for intellectual inquiry. Distinguish between critical argumentation, statements of opinion, and summary. Define key terms, identify potential counterarguments, and structure evidence logically. B) Use analytical tools to challenge received wisdom. Ideally, students should work toward developing a sense of their own voice and authority, and should understand both how to integrate authoritative sources into their own work and how to question authoritative truth claims effectively and productively.
- Argument, Analysis and Expression. A) Persuasively articulate, both orally and in writing, interpretations of literature that draw on the skills of critical thinking. In particular, formulate a substantive central claim (thesis), organize analysis supporting this claim, and locate and effectively integrate textual evidence. In some cases, written expression may also include creative work, such as fiction, poetry or creative nonfiction. B) Analyze language simultaneously on multiple levels: starting with the smallest unit (close reading of individual words, phrases, and images), connecting those details to mid-level units (themes, scenes, sections, stanzas), and taking into account the larger structure, movement, and context of a literary work.
- Historical and Cultural Contexts. A) Understand the mutually shaping relationship between texts and their various contexts. B) Recognize both continuities and disjunctures in themes, forms and styles of literary expression across genre and historical periods. If appropriate to the design of the course, students will also learn to make connections and observe differences between distinct geographical regions and cultural traditions.
- Disciplinary Awareness. A) Develop basic familiarity with the three main genres of literature: fiction, poetry, and drama. Acquire knowledge of rhetorical conventions and literary devices that are central to these genres. B) Become conversant in the basic analytical practices that constitute literary interpretation as a scholarly discipline. C) Appreciate literature as an aesthetic experience both distinct from and in resonance with other forms of expression. D) Understand the value of studying literature, the arts, and culture, even if the student’s intended field of study is not in the Humanities. E) Effectively transfer the analytical skills learned in the literature classroom to other disciplines and to the critical understanding of the culture at large.
- Information Literacy. A) Master proper citation format and eliminate plagiarism. B) Gain experience working with secondary sources, and, if appropriate to the design of the course, develop research practices to locate and assess the value of printed and electronic resources.
Evidence of Student Learning
Students demonstrate competency in the above areas through active participation in class discussion, oral presentation of literary and critical material to peers, frequent written critical analyses, including research papers that incorporate scholarly and historical sources, and if appropriate to the design of the course, midterm and final exams.