Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG281H1F - L0101

ENG281H1F L0101 W10-12; Tut M10 or M11
Writing About Literature 
Professor Matthew Sergi
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 812
Email: matthew.sergi@utoronto.ca

Brief Description of Course: Most of the literature courses you’ll take in the English Department (and beyond) will require you to write an essay. ENG 281, “Writing About Literature”, will not only teach you how to write essays about literature, but will also help you understand why we write all these essays in the first place — which will make you a better writer and thinker. We will teach you how to weave your other classes’ writing assignments together over time into a coherent training program, in ways that will strengthen your writing style, your argumentation, and your verbal clarity well beyond the university. We will modify your course requirements according to your needs, tastes, strengths, and weaknesses — whether you are struggling with English writing at a basic level or you can churn out an A paper overnight — and we will work with you to help you hone your craft at every level.

And we’ll do it all without assigning you much to write outside class. ENG 281 is a new process-based course: we are testing out new techniques that respect your time, your individuality, and your intelligence. There will be much work to do — readings, discussions, ongoing exercises in and out of class, intensive training in various skills, collaborative writing projects — but it all goes toward preparing you to write essays in future classes, rather than our own.

The primary course readings in “Writing About Literature” will be essays in literary criticism, interpretation, and analysis published by English Department faculty, often paired with guest appearances by the profs. Each week, via our discussion of a different professor’s work of literary scholarship, we will focus on a different key element of essay-writing: verbal logic, rigour, clarity, style, argumentation, innovation, structure, close reading, and grammar (in its many forms, from basic to advanced).

Required Reading: One very short literary text and one academic article per week, in a course reader.

First Three Authors/Texts: TBA

Method of Instruction: Lecture, discussion, and tutorial.

Method of Evaluation: (subject to change!) Collaborative editing project (15%); one-on-one writing assessment (20%); comprehension worksheet (20%); fundamentals quiz (or alternate assessment) (20%); engaged participation (aloud or in writing) (15%); actual attendance (10%).

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