English 2850 KMWB Spring 2024 Professor Jennifer Sylvor

MW 2:55 – 4:35

NVC 9-120

Office Hours: W 11 – 12  and by appointment

Office: NVC 7-290 – cubicle “O”

Course Blog:   

Great Works of Literature II

Welcome to English 2850!  I am looking forward to getting to know you and working together over the next several months to develop your skills and confidence as a reader, thinker, and writer.  This syllabus is a document designed to let you know how our course will work, what you can expect from me, and what I will be expecting from you in English 2850.  It contains important information that you will probably want to refer back to, so please hold on to this document.  You can also find the syllabus on our course blog.  (Look for the tab marked “syllabus” at the top of the screen.)

What is English 2850?  This course is an exploration of selected literary texts, drawn from all over the world,  produced between the 17th and 21st centuries .  We will be reading short stories, plays, poems, novellas, autobiographies, and other texts written in a variety of different languages, cultural contexts, and geo-political settings.  Through our readings, discussion, and written work, we will wrestle with what these texts have to tell us about the human condition, about our own lives and identities, about the complexities of language and meaning-making, and about the contexts in which the works were created.  You don’t need to be a “literature person” to thrive in this course, but you do need to be open to expanding your capacity for thinking critically, making connections, and sharing your insights with others both orally and in writing.

Learning Goals:

  • Increased ability to interpret meaning in literary texts by paying close attention to an author’s choices of detail, vocabulary, and style
  • Ability to discuss the relationship between different genres of literary texts and the multicultural environments from which they spring
  • Increased confidence in offering a critical evaluation and appreciation of a literary work’s strengths and limitations
  • Increased confidence in the oral presentation of ideas
  • Increased ability to write a critical essay employing a strong thesis statement, appropriate textual citations, and contextual and intertextual evidence for your ideas

Required Texts:

Puchner, et al. The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Package II, volumes D,E,F.  THIRD EDITION  (This 3-volume anthology is REQUIRED, and you will need it right away.  You can purchase it in the Baruch Bookstore or online.  Used copies should be readily available at a reasonable price.  If you encounter any difficulties locating the books, please let me know ASAP.

Additional readings will be provided by the professor through links on the course blog.

Course Requirements:

  • Two “formal” written projects 
  • Group Project
  • Modernism in Visual Art Assignment
  • Participation in both in-class and blog-based discussion
  • In-class and at-home informal writing
  • Mid-Semester and End-of-Semester Reflection

This is a Communication Intensive Course (CIC), which means that in addition to written work, you will be expected to be an active participant in classroom discussions.

Course Guidelines:

  • Communication: Email is the best way to reach me.  You can reach me at  Feel free to reach out if you need clarification about an assignment, if there’s something you need help with, or if you simply want to connect outside of class.  I will sometimes need to reach you as well and will use email to communicate, so please get in the habit of checking your baruchmail email address at least once a day!
  • Attendance:  Regular attendance and active participation are a critical part of this course.   Should you be unable to attend class, due to illness, religious observance, or family emergencies, it is your responsibility to reach out to me ahead of time to let me know you’ll be absent.  You are, of course, responsible for any work you miss.  Identify one or two classmates whom you can contact in the event that you miss class, and be sure you have their contact information. 
  • Lateness: Please leave yourself plenty of time to get to class! Coming to class late is disruptive and shows a lack of consideration for your peers and for the work we do together.   If you do arrive late or have to leave early, please think about how to do so without disturbing the class.
  • Preparedness: It is your responsibility to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings.   Please come to class with a hard copy of any material we will be discussing that day.  Additionally, you should come to each class with a pen and paper, prepared to complete in-class writing assignments.
  • Participation:  This class cannot succeed without your participation.  I will do my best to foster an atmosphere of respect, support, and open-mindedness in the classroom and expect you to do the same.  I hope you will feel comfortable adding your voice to our classroom conversations on a regular basis.   
  • Electronic Devices:  Be sure to bring your book or a printout of the reading with you to class, rather than trying to access it electronically.  If you use a laptop or tablet for note-taking, it is your responsibility to stay on task and resist the temptation to check email, social media, or any other websites while we are in class.  This doesn’t just limit your ability to be fully present in class; it distracts your neighbors and can make it difficult for them to focus as well.  Should that become an issue, we will have to reconsider the use of electronics in the classroom.   Please be sure to put your cell phones away at the beginning of each class session.   (In the event of an emergency, you can always step into the hall to take a call or check a message.) I know how dependent we have all become on our phones, and I believe that we can all benefit from taking regular breaks – even if it’s just for the 100 minutes that we are together in class.  
  • Blog: We will be making ample use of our class blog. This is where you can find links to reading that aren’t in the Norton Anthology and copies of your formal assignments.  I will be posting discussion questions on the blog each week and expect you to log on regularly to respond to my questions and to your classmates’ posts. I do not use Blackboard, so plan to rely on the class blog in the same way that you might turn to Blackboard for course information.
  • Writing Center:  I will always be available to work with you on developing and executing ideas for your essays, reviewing writing mechanics, and revising and refining your work.  For additional support, you are encouraged to visit the Baruch College Writing Center in VC 8-185.  You can call 646-312-4012 to make an appointment or send an e-mail to
  • Academic Integrity: Plagiarism and cheating are serious academic offenses and will not be tolerated.  Plagiarism means presenting another author’s words or ideas without crediting them to their source.  When you include another author’s words in your work, whether taken from a printed source, from the internet, or from a live presentation, those words must appear in quotation marks and be properly cited.  When you include another person’s ideas in your work, you must indicate where you found those ideas, even if you are paraphrasing rather than quoting them. Additionally, any time you submit work that you have not written yourself expressly for this course – whether you have collaborated with another student without permission, submitted work you have previously submitted for another course, purchased essays from an online or physical source, or generated writing using an AI platform such as ChatGPT – you are in violation of Baruch’s policy of academic integrity. If you have any questions at all about what constitutes plagiarism, please consult me.  Any work submitted for this course that has been plagiarized will receive a failing grade and be reported to the Dean of Students. For more information on Baruch College’s policy, see
  • Accommodations Policy: Baruch College is committed to making individuals with disabilities full participants in its programs, services, and activities through compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.  It is the policy of Baruch College that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall be denied access to or participation in any program, service, or activity offered by the university.  Individuals with disabilities have a right to request accommodations.  If you require any special assistance or accommodation, please let me know as soon as you can, ideally during the first three weeks of the semester.  My goal is to make this course work for you, so do not be shy about letting me know if you have any concerns about English 2850.
  • Grading: Grading for this course will happen in a somewhat non-traditional way.   Over the course of the semester, I will be keeping track of your attendance, class preparation and participation, and homework and in-class assignments, and I will be giving you detailed feedback on your written work. However, I will not be assigning grades to your essays or other work. At the end of the semester, as part of a broader process of reflection, you and I will agree on a final grade for the course that reflects your effort, learning, and overall performance over the course of the semester.

I am embracing this approach in an effort to de-emphasize grades and keep our focus where it belongs – on learning.  You will be my partners in this effort. This approach (sometimes called “ungrading” or “collaborative grading”) doesn’t mean that this course will be “easy” or that you don’t need to take it seriously, but it does mean that you have full control over the grade you will earn in this course.  Your grade will reflect the seriousness and attention you give to the course, including factors like attendance, preparation, participation, and consistency and quality of effort.   Please feel free to reach out with any questions you have about this policy or the thinking behind it. I do not want this policy to add to your stress; if you feel anxious about how you are doing in the class, you can always reach out to me to discuss your progress!  You will also have an opportunity to assess your work for the class in a mid-semester reflection; this will give you a chance to check in and plan for any “course corrections” you might want to make during the second half of the semester to achieve your goals for the course.

In order to pass English 2850, you must complete all of the formal assignments required for the course.  

If you are curious about the research behind this approach, you might be interested in the following sources:

Reading Schedule

What follows is a tentative schedule.  Expect that we will be making adjustments as the semester progresses.  More specific reading assignments will be announced in class, and discussion questions will be posted each week on our course blog.

M 1/29 What are “Great Works”?

W 1/31 Feng Menglong, “Du Tenth Sinks the Jewel Box in Anger”

M 2/5 Moliere, Tartuffe

W 2/7 Moliere, Tartuffe

M 2/12 College Closed

W 2/14 Akinari, “Bewitched” (Link to text will be posted on class blog.)

M 2/19 College Closed – Presidents’ Day

W 2/21 Pope, “Essay on Man” (College on Monday Schedule)

TH 2/22 Classes follow a Monday schedule. Rousseau, from Confessions

M 2/26 William Blake (selections to be announced)

W 2/28 William Blake 

M 3/4 William Wordsworth (selections to be announced)

W 3/6 Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Su 3/12 Essay #1 due by midnight.  (electronic submission)

M 3/11 Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life and Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life       of a Slave Girl (excerpt to be provided)

W 3/13 Staged Reading of  The Tempest (details to be provided)

M 3/18 Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener”

W 3/20 Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener”

M 3/25 Tolstoy, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”

W 3/27 Tolstoy, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”

M 4/1 Rabindranath Tagore, “Punishment”

W 4/3 T.S. Eliot “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

M 4/8 Lu Xun, “Upstairs in a Wineshop” (Link to text will be posted on blog)

W 4/10 Kafka, “The Metamorphosis”

M 4/15 Kafka, “The Metamorphosis”

W 4/17 Borowski, “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen”




W 5/1 Tayeb Salih, “The Doum Tree of Wad Hamid” 

M 5/6 Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl”

W 5/8 Toni Morrison, “Recitatif”

M 5/13 Isabel Allende, “And of Clay are They Created”

W  5/15 Essay #2 Due by midnight. (electronic submission)