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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges
ENGL 200
Seattle Campus

Reading Literary Forms

Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

Heather: "It's just like Hamlet said, 'To thine own self, be true.'" Cher: "Ah, no, uh, Hamlet didn't say that." Heather: "I think that I remember Hamlet accurately." Cher: "Well, I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn't say that. That Polonius guy did."

Amy Heckerling, Clueless

Cher Horowitz's Gibson quotation attests to the way most students remember Shakespeare's tragedy: via adaptations. In English 200, not only will we examine cinematic and novelistic interpretations, revisions, and expansions of Hamlet, but we will also analyze the play itself. By doing so, we will develop strategies for reading and writing about fictional texts. Throughout the term, we will focus on several approaches to literature and film: close reading,, structural and thematic analysis, psychoanalysis, and feminist theory. During the first week, we will develop our own interpretations of Hamlet before moving to other readings of the play, including Aki Kaurismaki's 1987 film Hamlet Goes Business, Laurence Olivier's 1948 film Hamlet, and John Updike's recent novel, Gertrude and Claudius. As we explore the ways other artists have interpreted, recreated, and expanded upon the original text, we will reconsider and revise our own understanding of the play.

English 200 is computer-integrated, with students moving between a wired seminar room and a computer lab during most class meetings. The lab setting allows students to participate in inclusive electronic discussions, view and offer feedback on their peers' work, collaborate on group activities, and conduct web-based research. However, technical savvy is not a course prerequisite; students will receive instruction in all technical tools used in the classroom.

Student learning goals

To learn how to analyze the characters, language, structure, visual elements and themes of fictional texts.

To use theoretical concepts to interpret literature.

To develop as critical thinkers and writers who can formulate substantive arguments and explore those arguments with evidence.

General method of instruction

Course activities promote active learning, with most class sessions incorporating a mix of mini-lectures, discussion, and group work. The course design--which includes frequent non-graded and graded writing--reflects the importance of writing as a means of learning. Students will write to think through particular questions or passages as well as to articulate what they already know. My role is to provide the tools and resources you will need to advance your own thinking and writing. I will pose questions, design activities to help you think through these questions, and respond to your ideas. Your role is to do the hard work: the critical reading, discussion, and writing. You will analyze texts, generate ideas via writing as well as electronic and face-to-face discussions, develop presentations with your peers, construct written arguments, and use feedback to revise those arguments.

Recommended preparation

None, save for willingness to work hard and progress at a quick pace.

Class assignments and grading

* 1 group Hamlet film adaptation presentation * 3 essays, 2 of which can be revised for a new grade * Daily class preparation activities

Grades in English 200 will be computed by points, with 400 points equaling a 4.0, 300 points a 3.0, and so on. If your total falls between grades, I will round up if you score one to five points below the higher grade and round down if you score one to four points above the lower grade. For example, 274 points equals a 2.7 and 275 points a 2.8. Students who score less than 65 points total will receive a 0 for the course, as the UW grading system does not scale grades lower than .7.

Each component of the course is worth the following number of points:

*Class Participation: 60 points *Class Preparation Assignments: 80 points *Essays: 220 points *Presentation: 40 points

Class preparation activities will receive points on a credit/no-credit basis, with full marks awarded to responses that demonstrate genuine engagement with the assigned task. I will evaluate the presentation and essays according to specific standards that I will distribute with those assignments.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges
Date: 06/17/2012