Spring 2018  •  Section A  •  Mon / Wed / Fri  •  10:30-11:20p  •  302 Admin Building

Professor:  Dr. Michele Polak    •    email:  mpolak@ndc.edu

Office:  200 Library  •  Office Hours:  MWF: 10:30-11:30a; T: 10a-noon

EN382: Women Writers


Course Description

From the course catalog: “Analysis and discussion of works of selected women writers with emphasis on exploration of vital issues from women’s perspectives.”

As a 300-level literature course, EN382 has been designed to analyze and discuss literary texts by familiarizing you with critical approaches, terms, and concepts used in literary study.  In this course, we will explore the ways that the study of women’s writing expands and questions the traditional canons of writing.  You will be introduced to a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts by a diverse group of women writers, exploring the intersections of gender with class, race, ethnicity, and sexuality.  We will work this semester to understand the relationship between women’s literary production and the rise of the women’s rights and modern feminist movements.

Note that this is a reading intensive course!

The theme for this section of Women Writers is “A Life Lived.”  All of the texts we will read this semester will focus on the life stories of women, written by woman and about women.  We will also read several pieces of academic writing, both as theory and to place the fiction we read into historical context, including an understanding of the American feminist movement.  By placing the texts we read into historical context, we will have an understanding of the relevance, passion and power of women writing women.


Notre Dame College of Ohio, a Catholic institution in the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame, educates a diverse population of in the liberal arts for personal, professional, and global responsibility.


Course Rationale

In EN382, all students will work toward the goals as articulated in the Notre Dame College Core Curriculum (2017-18
Catalog, p. 30):

  1. Written Fluency. The strength of a liberal arts education depends on its ability to teach students how to translate critical and creative thinking into writing. Employers continue to stress clear communication skills, especially writing, as essential to a successful career.”

Therefore, students in EN382 will

  1. Construct sustained, coherent argument or presentation in more than one medium for general and specific audiences.

  2. Work in collaboration with others to address a social, personal, or ethical dilemmas.

  3. Demonstrate effective communication skills using conventions of Standard English for academic writing.

As articulated in the Notre Dame College Core Curriculum (2017-18 Catalog, p. 31):

  1. Creative Inquiry. In a liberal arts college, students have the priceless opportunity to explore and hone their creative abilities. The study of music, art, theater, or creative writing stimulates the mind and fortifies the spirit. Students learn about the elements, forms, and styles of different media. By doing so, they understand themselves and their engagement with others critically, thoughtfully, and meaningfully.”

As a result, students in EN382 will

  1. Develop both creative and analytical thinking through the exploration of the creative process.

  2. Define and apply the vocabulary related to the elements, forms and styles of the respective media.

As articulated in the Notre Dame College Core Curriculum (2017-18 Catalog, p. 31):

  1. Literary Inquiry. By examining literature, students learn not only different genres and forms of writing, but also the complexity and beauty of the English language, all while refining their inferential and critical reading skills. Reading literature encourages us to enter new, and often challenging, modes of thinking that in turn help us understand ourselves and our relation to the global community.”

Therefore, students in EN382 will be challenged to

  1. Explore the depth and breadth of the human experience expressed in the literature of a variety of
    genres, times and places.

  2. Refine skills of inferential and critical reading.

  3. Engage in thoughtful and reasoned conversation, as well as analytical writing informed by research.

You will be offered the space to both agree and disagree with any of the topics we discuss this semester as you utilize the skills you are learning.  As part of a liberal arts education, EN382 will also encourage you to identify and express your personal and professional goals for life beyond the college environment.



Course Policies

Academic Dishonesty.  Generally the individual faculty member decides on sanctions for acts of academic dishonesty; such decisions do not preclude further disciplinary action under College judicial procedures. Those penalties include but are not limited to failure on the specific assignment, failure in the course, and the establishment in the Office of Academic Affairs of a plagiarism file for the offending student, which includes an Incident of Plagiarism document detailing the offense.

Academic Dishonesty includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. 1.the completion or attempted completion of any academic work by means other than those permitted

  2. 2.the alteration of a document relating to the grading process, including – changing an instructor’s grade book, or changing answers on a test after the time to complete the test is over.

  3. a.Examples of Academic Dishonesty include but are not limited to; unauthorized collaboration, copying another student’s answers, unauthorized aids on a test, using purchased or pre-made term papers, plagiarism, and destroying another student’s work.

  4. b.Plagiarism occurs when an individual presents the ideas, thoughts, or words of another as his or her own. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, using phrases, sentences, or ideas from a published source, including the internet, without citing that source, representing another’s unpublished work as your own, rewriting or paraphrasing the work of another without giving credit to that person by citation, submitting a paper as one’s own work that has been copied, in whole or in part, from another’s work.

  5. c.Generally, the faculty decides upon sanctions for acts of Academic Dishonesty. Thus, Academic Dishonesty may carry specific penalties carried out by the faculty outside of the Judicial Procedure. Those penalties include but are not limited to: failure on the specific assignment, failure of the course, the creation of a Plagiarism File in the Office of Academic Affairs, which includes filing an Incident of Plagiarism Form detailing the offense, filed with the Office of Academic Affairs. Note that while deference is given to the faculty to handle matters of Academic Dishonesty, such action does not preclude further disciplinary action under the College Judicial Procedure.

Disruptive Student Policy.  The College seeks an environment that promotes academic achievement and integrity, that is protective of free inquiry, and that serves the educational mission of Notre Dame College. Similarly, the College seeks a community that is free from violence, threats, and intimidation; that is respectful of the rights, opportunities, and welfare of students, faculty, staff, and guests of Notre Dame College; and that does not threaten the physical or mental health or safety of members of the College community. As a student at Notre Dame College you are expected adhere to the Student Code of Conduct.

Students with Disabilities.  Notre Dame College makes reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. A qualified student with a disability may request support services from the Dwyer Learning Center on a yearly basis. In order to receive services at Notre Dame College, students with disabilities must provide documentation, which meets state and federal standards for indicating the presence of a disability.

The Writing Lab @ Notre Dame College.  Students seeking help with writing assignments for any class or project, as well as those wishing to develop their writing skills in general are invited to visit The Writing Lab, located at 201 in the Clara Fritzsche Library.  Staffed by undergraduate students majoring in a variety of disciplines, tutors offer one-on-one writing assistance and are trained in proven writing center methods.  The Writing Lab is open for walk in hours 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Sunday.  Students may also set up an appointment by sending an email to:
The Writing Lab

Academic Policies and Procedures.  For the policies concerning Incompletes, Appealing a grade, and Course Withdrawal Policy see the Notre Dame College Catalog.



Course Policies

Attendance.  There is a strict attendance policy for this course.  Attendance for this course is mandatory.  You should come to class having printed out, read and annotated all required readings.  You are considered absent if: you are more than five minutes late or leave before class is over; are unprepared for class having arrived without the required material as listed in this syllabus; use technology to virtually ‘leave’ class.  Any extenuating circumstances must have documentation; if you are absent due to any college-sponsored organization, proper documentation must be provided.

You will be allowed three absences over the course of the semester.  Each subsequent absence will drop your final course grade by a full letter grade; with seven days, you will automatically fail the course. 

You are responsible for attending every class scheduled for this course.  This includes through finals week.  Arrangements to leave town before the semester ends should not be made unless you are prepared to accept the penalty concerning absences.

Late Policy.  Both Response Papers are due at the start of class on the assigned due date as listed in the Weekly Schedule.  If you are absent the day that a Reading Response is due, you are still required to submit your draft by the beginning of class time.  Late Response Papers are NOT ACCEPTED except under extraordinary circumstances and only after prearranged negotiations with me.  If Response Papers are not submitted by the due date indicated, a grade of F will be issued for the assignment.

It is advisable that you save all work and back up all files often on a digital back-up source.  As technology is not always 100% reliable, having a copy of a completed paper will save the risk of receiving an F on a draft that is not handed in on time due to technological errors.  The Late Policy will not be changed due to problems with lost digital files; get into the habit of backing up all digital files.

Course Moodle Site.  While the course website will be where you will find all of the information for this course, I will activate our course Moodle site so that you may access the dropbox for submitting drafts.  You have been automatically added to Moodle.  I will be using Moodle to update the class on any assignment changes or late-breaking news; you should get into the habit of checking your NDC email account on a regular basis.

Personal Technology.  If you choose to use a laptop, tablet, or any other device for taking notes or accessing online course readings during class, this is allowable.  However, you should not choose to use a personal device for any purpose unrelated to class.  All devices not used for learning purposes should be silenced. A smartphone should not be used at any time during class.  It is recommended that all smartphones be powered down.  If there is a serious need to leave a smartphone on, such as in a family emergency, please put it on vibrate and let me know; if a student needs to leave the classroom to take a call, it will be understood by the Instructor.  If you leave the classroom to take a call without notifying me, it will be considered an absence.  If you have been asked more than once to put your smartphone away, it will be considered an absence. 



Required Course Materials

  1. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  2. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

  3. Two or Three Things I Know for Sure by Dorothy Allison

  4. Sula by Toni Morrison

  5. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

  6. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

  7. SOLD by Patricia McCormick

  8. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

  9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

  10. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

  11. A Pocket Style Manual, 2016 MLA Update Edition, 7th Edition by Hacker and Sommers



Course Requirements and Methods of Evaluation

Participation and Preparation.  Not only is it important for you to be present in class, it is also crucial that you have a voice in discussions.  Active, engaged participation is therefore required on your part.  You should come to class prepared to participate every day.  This means completing all the assigned reading as well as being prepared to discuss what you’ve learned, observed, loved, and even hated.  Making relevant comments in class, clearly having done the reading and thought about it ahead of time will be counted towards your grade for participation.  Should you choose to sit quietly and only listen, text, surf the net or arrive to class without the day’s assigned reading, your overall course grade will be lowered by 100 points—a full letter grade.

Reading Quizzes.  The best way for you to achieve a grade of accomplishment in this course is to complete the assigned reading, in full and on time.  Both of the Response Papers and the Mid-Term and Final Exams will be much more accessible to you if you complete the assigned reading.  Likewise, class discussion will be much more interesting.  It is strongly recommended that you print out any or all of the supplemental reading so that you are not 1) distracted by reading online and 2) are able to create marginalia for the reading you have completed.  We will discuss reading strategies early in the semester.

  1. If you are registered with the Academic Success Center:  You have the option to take reading quizzes at the ASC in Regina Hall.  The ASC will have all reading quizzes on file.  As quiz topics will be discussed in class, ASC students should arrange to take their reading quiz within 24 hours before a scheduled reading quiz. 

  2. If you miss a reading quiz due to a school-sponsored event:  You should notify me throughout the semester when you are going to miss a class due to a school-sponsored event.  It is your responsibility to arrange an appointment for a Test Proctor at Dwyer Learning center at dwyer@ndc.eduThere are no drop-in hours for Text Proctoring.  You must make the appointment 24 hours in advance of the time you wish to take the quiz.

  3. NOTE:  You have within 24 hours of a scheduled reading quiz to take the quiz at Dwyer.

  4. If you miss a reading quiz due to an illness excused by a doctor’s note:  You will need to arrange a time with me to make up a missed reading quiz.  Only with an absence excused by a doctor’s note should a make-up reading quiz be scheduled.

Response Papers.  You will write two Response Papers during the course of the semester. You should aim to be critical and thoughtful in your text responses; these responses will allow you to have the space you might need to disagree with a text and its purpose.  The due dates and assignment specifics will be posted to the course website. 

Submitting Response Papers

  1. Response Papers are to be submitted through the dropbox posted for each paper, which has been set up in the course Moodle page.

  2. Drafts are to be formatted with 1” margins all around, double-spaced, and using an academic or professional font such as Times or Times New Roman, 12pt. unless otherwise specified.  (You should make sure to check this information in whatever word processing program is used as Microsoft Word and Pages for Mac often defaults to 1.5” margins.) 

  3. A page of text must fill at least 3/4 of the page to be considered a full page.

  4. You lose points on your final draft grade if you: misspell an author’s name, a character’s name or the title of a text.  Writers work very hard at their craft; honor them by paying attention to the specifics of a text.  Misspelling textual identification is a sign of laziness.  Take the time to proof-read your work.

  5. DO NOT compose drafts on a smartphone.  While cell phone technology has come a long way, smartphones are not reliable enough for drafting entire papers; software developed for the smartphone platform is not designed to work well with lengthy prose or file saving.  It is a guarantee that any assignment or exercise drafted on a smartphone will be lost at some point during the term.  While tablets are a bit better, the safest form of drafting is to compose all drafts on a computer or laptop.

Mid-Term Exam.  A multiple-choice, Mid-Term Exam of 25 questions will be scheduled for mid-semester.  The Mid-Term Exam will take place in class and will cover all of the texts, terms, and concepts used in literary study that will be addressed in class up to that point in the semester.

Final Exam.  A Final Exam with a mix of multiple-choice questions and short, written answers will be scheduled for finals week on the day assigned for this class (to be determined by the College later in the semester).  The Final Exam will take place in class and will cover all of the texts, terms, and concepts used in literary study that will be addressed from mid-term to the end of the semester.


Grading Policy.  All requirements will be assigned a letter grade based upon the following points.  You are eligible for 1000 points for this course:

Grading scale. Grades will be assigned according to the scale indicated in the College catalog.  A grade of “A” or “A-“ represents excellence, extraordinary achievement:

Participation & Preparation

Reading Quizzes

Response Paper 1

Response Paper 2

Mid-Term Exam

Final Exam

100 pts

150 pts

100 pts

150 pts

250 pts

250 pts

A

A-

B+

B

B-

C+

C

C-

D

F

100-93

92-90

89-87

86-83

82-80

79-77

76-73

72-70

69-65

64-0

Syllabus