Potential/Desired Learning Outcomes for upper-division literature courses, especially 300-level

Students learn to keep in mind and to consider how general theoretical assumptions/premises inform their understanding and analyses of literature and culture, as expressed in these examples/statements:

In English 341 and 345 students will learn, develop, and strengthen abilities
- to understand and to explain the historical dimensions of literary characters’ desires for and relation with others, including social negotiations and ideological debates over valued identities and principles, particularly as these desires and relations are understood as rhetorical functions and effects of the literary work and its contexts
-to inquire into the varying degrees of authority or power exercised and available to characters in a representative range of literary texts in different modes and genres from the medieval period to the eighteenth century, especially as such authority figures in (and is figuratively related to) class status, gender, race, ethnicity, and other determinants and influences (institutions/ideologies)
-to analyze how social identities are represented and enacted rhetorically in literature and language and through narrative and dramatic structure and style
-to explore the extent to which the desires and power relations and identities in literary works are shown to be in flux, dramatized as being put into question or engaged in a debate among different social, political, class, gender, ethnic, religious/ideological arrangements
-to write a substantial critical essay that engages with a literary text and its critical interpretation/reception by identifying problems, developing claims and arguments, and enriching literary understanding, interests, and commitments
-to incorporate primary and secondary research into critical essay writing that explains how the interpretation of the evidence supports the claims of the argument being made about the meaning, power/effects, and structure of the work

-learn that arguments in literary criticism analyze examples in order to come to broader conclusions--these arguments therefore demonstrate inductive reasoning that moves logically and persuasively from particular pieces of compelling evidence (including the reasons that the evidence supports the argument/claims) to broader generalizations that advance/deepen/enrich understanding
-learn that for an argument to be convincing, the relationship between generalizations or assertions and supporting evidence must be considered carefully. This includes learning to qualify a generalization in the face of contradictory evidence so that one does not ignore the exception and does not suppress such evidence in order to continue to assert a generalization.

Department of English general learning outcomes for 300-level literature courses
• Reinforces close reading, research skills, and analytical writing strategies
• Help students investigate how these literary texts shape and reflect their particular contexts, including differences in treatment of issues across the time period covered
• Helps students engage with and develop investment in the literary works and related texts/criticism—using a range of assignments and resources, including online writing/discussions
• Helps students engage in scholarly conversations about literature—building from their research skills and use of evidence and related texts in previous classes to position themselves in dialogue with critical discussions
• Requires, and directs students in ways to write sustained analytical essays (with selected research) that evidence close reading of the literature to include well-developed theses/argument, engagement with critical sources, and ability to ask meaningful questions of the literature and its construction. Students are required to sustain an analysis of eight or more pages in the Term Essay, and write approximately 14 additional pages of analysis during the semester (including final exam and critical essay as well as nine concise Inquiry Starters). Evaluation of students' written work includes instructor's use of a rubric to identify specific areas assessed.
• Supports exploration of theoretical perspectives on literary and cultural studies, enabling students to reflect upon, compose, and articulate the ways that they engage with critical theory and practice
•Helps students understand applications of English studies with references to contemporary events/situations that show similar problems depicted in the texts recurring in present day life and social relations
•Expects and monitors that students' writing exhibits correct usage of grammar and of MLA formats and citation conventions

Desired general learning outcomes for the B.A. in English:
1) Students exhibit knowledge of diverse literatures in English and the cultural and historical contexts in which these works were produced.
2) Students can discern and evaluate the aesthetic and formal qualities of various texts.
3) Students can write an analytic essay that exhibits both critical thinking and effective argumentation.
4) Students can write a research essay that exhibits effective deployment of research as evidence.
5) Students’ writing exhibits correct usage of grammar and of MLA format and citation conventions.

Additional (somewhat re-stated) possibilities for your consideration of what you might hope to learn within the English major, particularly within the literature emphasis:

Students will learn, develop, and strengthen abilities

-to identify and to analyze cultural, social, ideological, historical, linguistic, and other aspects of works of literature and film

-to analyze works of literature and film, orally, in writing, and in other modes of presentation

-to develop a complex understanding of themselves in relation to others and to their world as they engage with “big questions” and matters of value, and as they explore new ideas and experiences through literature and film

-to analyze interpretive, ideological, and rhetorical conflicts and contradictions in works of literature and of film across culture and history, in different modes and also including diverse forms of narrative, poetry, and drama, and in “debate/conversation” with peers, faculty, and other voices, including published scholarship

-to articulate their affective and reflective/intellectual engagement with works of literature and film—a sense of “what’s at stake and why such engagement matters”