Goals, Procedures, and Requirements for this Course

English 2631 Online: Course Description

Catalog information

Credit hours: 3
Prerequisite: None
Description: "Introductory study of myths, chiefly classical, with some attention to their origins and cultural significance, and of literary works, both classical and modern, in which myths are used."

Required texts

Kovacs, Maureen. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Stanford UP: 1989.
Leonard, Scott A. and Michael McClure. Myth and Knowing: An Introduction to World Mythology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
Wolkstein, Diane and Noah Kramer. Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth. San Francisco: Harper Perennial, 1983.
Online essays (located on course website)
All required texts are available at the YSU Bookstore.

Course description

This course will familiarize you with the kinds and functions of myth and major mythic archetypes and themes. Thus, the course will encourage fruitful considerations of what role myth has played—and still does play—in all societies and their literatures. We will consider a culturally eclectic selection of stories that illustrate the basic social functions and literary themes found in myth and the ways in which mythic materials have always influenced belief and behavior--and continue to manifest themselves in modern literature and popular entertainment.

Course Learning Objectives

ENGL 2631 has been designated a General Education Requirements (GER) course which satisfies the university’s Artistic and Literary Perspectives requirement. In accordance with the criteria established by YSU’s General Education Requirements Committee, this course satisfies GER Goal 8. Therefore course content is designed to help students to
  • cultivate an informed acquaintance with examples of works of literary art and/or literature and an appreciation of how they may serve as sources of enjoyment, knowledge, and insight into the human condition;
  • understand the interaction between technique and imagination in the creative process and the dynamic relationship between artists, works of art, and audiences;
  • and develop skills to evaluate and communicate effectively about the the art form (i.e. understanding, vocabularies, tools, methodologies, materials, techniques, form, and genre).

Course Learning Outcomes

By the end of the semester, you should be able to do the following:

Basic procedures

Online courses put additional pressure on students to take responsibility for the quality of their educational experience. If you are not well-organized and/or not a self-starter, you will find it difficult to succeed in an online course. This is especially true of a literature course which obliges you to keep up with the reading and the online lectures. If you fall behind in either, you will do poorly on the reading quizzes and other written assignments.
If you want to control your own destiny, you must do the following:
Buy the required texts: do the required reading. As crazy as it sounds, English literature courses assume you will buy all the books and do all the assigned readings. Everything we do in this class—the quizzes, the analytical writing assignments, the lectures, and the discussions—presupposes that you have done the all reading and done it well. Rubbing your eyeballs across the pages without understanding or remembering what you've read won't cut it.
Consult the course calendar. EVERYTHING you need—dates, assignment sheets, and links to online readings—is incorporated into the course calendar. It is your responsibility to find the "Course Schedule " in the Navigation Bar on the left edge of this page and consult it each week.
Familiarize yourself with the content of the weekly Modules. Point your browser to the "Modules" link on the left edge of this page. There you will find 15 weekly modules featuring the lectures, reading quizzes, and other relevant course materials.
Consult the weekly Learning Outcomes. The most effective way to grasp the course material and prepare for the reading quizzes is to consult the listed Weekly Goals and Learning Outcomes that appear at the top of each Learning Module before doing the reading and listen to the lectures. Once you've performed the reading and listened to the podcasts, you can use the listed Goals and Learning Outcomes as a means to review the course content covered each week. Frame the Learning Outcomes as questions to yourself. Can you answer each question off the top of your head clearly and using specifics from the readings? Do you know the names of the characters and the actions they perform in the assigned stories? If so, you’re well-prepared to take the reading quizzes. If not, review the relevant materials until you feel confident in your knowledge.
Listen to the lectures. Inside each of the weekly module folders is a sub-folder titled “Media.” This is where you will find the lectures for each week (in the form of MP3 podcasts). The material in the lectures will take you deeply into the assigned readings and help you connect these sometimes strange stories to various psychological and social phenomena visible in our time. Listen attentively and take notes because sometimes material from the lectures appears on the reading quizzes!
Work ahead. To succeed in this course, you need to plan on doing the reading by the beginning of each week. The lectures presuppose you are familiar with the details of the assigned readings. To get the most out of the lectures, you need to come to them prepared.
Participate in the discussion forums. Each student is required to participate in the discussion forums each week. These forums are designed to emulate classroom discussion and debate about ideas and information encountered in the readings and in the lectures. Therefore, it will be up to you to introduce discussion topics, ask questions, and interact with your classmates. I will jump in occasionally to ask questions of my own, correct any misinformation, or interact with ideas you have raised.
A significant portion of your semester’s grade will depend on your regular and fully engaged participation in the discussion forums. To earn full credit, you need to make at least one comment each week (at least 400 words long). However, it will not be enough simply to say “I agree with what you say” to the comments of your fellow classmates. You’ll occasionally need to start your own thread and/or introduce questions and interpretations or comments of your own to earn full points.
BlackBoard 9 makes it easy for me to track how often you participate, the length of your longest post, the length of your shortest post, the average length of all your posts, and whether you were first or twentieth to jump in on a particular thread. But don’t limit your participation to the weekly minimum of 1 entry of exactly 400 words/week. Think of the discussion forums as a conversation with classmates you may never meet in person.
Take the reading quizzes. I use weekly reading quizzes to test your recollection and understanding of the assigned reading. About 17% of your semester’s grade will depend on how well you do on these short quizzes. They are available each week between midnight on TH and midnight on Sat. If, for whatever reason, you miss this window of opportunity, you lose the points. No exceptions.
Sorry, but BB9 is not absolutely reliable. Technical difficulties are one of the real and unavoidable drawbacks of taking courses online. The bitter experience of students in previous courses suggests that attempting to take the reading quizzes on a mobile device is likely to generate fatal technical errors.
Likewise, using a computer that does not have a current web browser may also generate a fatal error that boots you out of the quiz before you’re done. If this happens, you will be permanently locked out and will lose that week’s quiz points. For some reason, people using Internet Explorer have more technical problems than those using Safari, Firefox, or Chrome. Getting the most updated version of Explorer helps, but sometimes errors still occur.
To avoid the heartbreak of losing quiz points due to technical glitches, I urge you to download FireFox or Google Chrome and use them from your personal computer to take the weekly reading quiz (both browsers are free). Alternatively, you can take the quiz on one of the computers in one of YSU's many computer labs. Lab computers receive regular software updates and are available to anyone with a Student ID.
Email major assignments to me on time. Ours is a paperless classroom. The course calendar will tell you when to begin composing your assignments and when they are due. Your work must be composed in Microsoft Word and must be emailed to me as an attachment on time or you risk my refusing to accept your work.
Important! I will send you a note confirming receipt of your emailed assignments as soon as I see it. If you do not receive a confirmation that I’ve received your assignment within 24 hours, send it to me again with a note explaining you haven’t received a confirmation. I can’t tell whether you’re a flake or the victim of some technical mishap from my end. So, it is your responsibility to make sure I’ve received your assignments on time. Check your email after you send me an assignment to make sure I got it.

Grading procedures and evaluation standards

The table below lists the assignments required for this course and indicates the weights they carry when I calculate your final grades.
Weekly reading quizzes (10 pts. X 13 weeks)
130 pts
Online participation (10 pts. X 14 weeks)
140 pts
Matrix analysis
50 pts
200 pts
250 pts
Course evaluation memo
30 pts
3.75 %
800 pts
Your assignments will receive a letter grade, which I will then convert to points according to the table above. So, for example, the Midterm is worth 25% of your final grade, or 200 pts. If you earn a C on the Midterm, you will earn 75% of 200 pts., or 150 pts.
A 95-100 C+ 77-81
A- 91-94 C 72-76
B+ 89-90 C- 71
B 83-88 D 66-70
B- 82 F 65
I will convert in this way all graded assignments from letters to percentages to points. I will then keep a running tally of your points on a spreadsheet. If at any time during the semester you'd like to know how many points you’ve earned so far, please send me an email requesting an update and I will let you know where you stand.
Final grades for the semester will be determined by taking the total number of points you’ve earned and dividing that number by the total number of points possible (i.e. 800 pts.). This operation will yield a series of decimals, which I will convert to a percentage. The percentage will be converted into a letter according to the table above.
Example: Say you earn a total of 712.5 pts. for the semester. To calculate your semester's grade I would divide your point total (712.5) by the total points possible (800). The product of this calculation would be .89, or 89%. According to the above chart, 89% is a B+. However, if you earn 89% of the points for the semester, I would issue you a final grade of "B" because YSU does not recognize a grade of B+.
Evaluation standards
Grading of the major assignments is as objective as possible in this course and is based on the following criteria:
  • Your ability to read literary texts carefully and closely and to make reasonable inferences and formulate insights from textual details.
  • Your ability to critically analyze plot, character, and setting and their connections to such important phenomena as cultural values, beliefs, customs, generic conventions, and broad historical movements.
  • Your ability to gather and synthesize relevant research materials.
  • Your ability to develop personal insights into literary texts and academic discussions of them.
What the letter grades signify
A — “excellent,” indicating superior effort, understanding, and achievement in all areas of the course. An “A paper” will
  • fulfill major and minor requirements and purposes of the assignment
  • articulate a clear thesis or critical stance
  • explore thoroughly the subject it addresses
  • articulate personal insights and/or make original connections among texts or among texts and their respective cultural contexts
  • demonstrate a logical pattern of organization
  • quote primary (and, possibly) secondary source material accurately and appropriately
  • be thought-provoking and interesting to read
  • make use of transitions and other reader-friendly “signposts” signifying the writer’s intentions
  • use written language skillfully, always observing the conventions of Standard American English regarding syntax, tense and number markers, subject-verb agreement, spelling, and punctuation
  • will have three or fewer typographical errors
B — “good,” indicating above-average effort, understanding, and achievement in all areas of the course. A “B paper” will
  • fulfill major requirements and purposes of the assignment
  • articulate a thesis or critical stance, if somewhat imperfectly
  • explore adequately the subject it addresses
  • demonstrate an appropriate pattern of organization
  • quote primary and secondary source material accurately and appropriately
  • hold the reader's interest
  • use language well, usually observing the conventions of Standard American English regarding syntax, tense and number markers, subject-verb agreement, spelling, and punctuation
  • will have fewer than ten typographical errors
C — “average,” indicating satisfactory effort, understanding, and achievement in all areas of the course. A “C paper” will
  • address major requirements and purposes of the assignment
  • attempt to articulate a thesis or take a critical stance
  • demonstrate an acceptable pattern of organization
  • cover the major issues related to the subject it addresses, though it may not develop them all thoroughly
  • usually observe the conventions of Standard American English regarding syntax, tense and number markers, subject-verb agreement, spelling, and punctuation
  • be a “B” paper without a clear thesis or critical position, or major flaws in organization, or a confusing or distracting number of deviations from the conventions of Standard American English
D — “unsatisfactory,” indicating below-average effort, understanding, and achievement in all areas of the course. A “D paper” will
  • misunderstand or ignore at least one major requirement or purpose of the assignment
  • articulate no discernible thesis or critical position
  • fail to quote primary or secondary sources
  • demonstrate only a vague familiarity with the readings and lectures
  • fail to develop any idea adequately
  • be poorly organized
  • fail—frequently—to observe the conventions of Standard American English regarding syntax, tense and number markers, subject-verb agreement, spelling, and punctuation
F — “unacceptable,” indicating inferior effort, understanding, and achievement in all areas of the course. An “F paper” will
  • ignore the requirements and purposes of the assignment
  • articulate no discernible thesis or critical position
  • demonstrate little or no familiarity with the readings and lectures
  • make no reference to source material
  • demonstrate ignorance of (or inability to observe) the conventions of Standard American English regarding syntax, tense and number markers, subject-verb agreement, spelling, and punctuation

Important policies

Policy on Plagiarism. YSU defines plagiarism in the Student Code and in the Undergraduate Bulletin as a serious breach of academic honesty subject to a range of penalties, including expulsion from the university. While definitions vary, the essence of the offense is intentionally passing off the work of others as your own work. While some have found it tempting to download papers from the web or to “recycle” the work of their friends, the consequences will be devastating when you are caught.
Students in my online courses have attempted to cheat on the Reading Quizzes by cutting and pasting information gleaned from the internet—or shared among students taking the quiz together in the computer labs or in someone's home. The Quizzes are closed-book, closed-notes and you are on your honor to comply with this testing format. Be honorable.
Trust me: I’ve got a mind for words. I’ll recognize similar phrasing if you are sharing your answers on the reading quizzes with a friend. And I have read well over 10,000 student papers in my 22 year career. I WILL known if you’ve attempted to cheat me.
The minimum penalty for plagiarism in this class is automatic failure of the course and having a disciplinary action report placed in your student file. Plagiarism is a fundamental breach of the trust upon which the teacher-student relationship is based. This trust is sacred to me and I will not forgive you if you betray it. Besides, plagiarism robs you of the learning experience you are paying good money to acquire. Just don’t do it.
Policy on Incompletes. In unusual circumstances, a student in good standing (a grade of “C” or better) may be unable to complete course requirements by the end of the semester. An Incomplete (I) for this course is possible if all of the following conditions are met:
  • you request the incomplete in writing;
  • you were earning a passing grade at the time you were unable to attend;
  • the circumstances necessitating the request are beyond your control;
  • I agree that an Incomplete is the appropriate course of action.
YSU’s incomplete policy states that if no formal grade change occurs by Saturday, 1 March 2014, an “I” automatically reverts to an “F.”