English Learning Outcomes

Below you will find specific statements of what our students are expected to know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate after completion of each process of learning.

> 1000-level courses
> 2000-level courses
> 3000-level courses
> 4000-level courses


1000-level courses:

1000-level courses initiate students to the university-level study of English literature. Students will be introduced to the rich diversity of English literature and to the scholarly research tools which make the study of English possible. Discussions, activities and assignments focus on close reading practices which allow students to move beyond arguments based primarily on questions of plot. Students will be expected to begin to develop their own critical point of view and to take responsibility for their own engagement with the texts at hand.

1000-level courses are an ideal way to enter an English module, but they also provide the foundations of analysis and argument essential to university-level scholarship in any text-based discipline (e.g. history, philosophy, sociology, classics, etc.).

Students who successfully complete the first year of study in anticipation of pursuing a module in English will have:

Content:

  • an introduction to the scope of the corpus, including its chronological and geographical breadth
  • a basic knowledge and understanding of the principal genres of literature in English, including drama, short fiction, the novel and a variety of forms of verse
  • a basic knowledge and understanding of the elements of literature, such as plot, character, point of view, theme, setting, imagery, diction, tone, figures of speech, syntax, and rhythm
  • a basic knowledge of the language of literary analysis (i.e. rhetorical terms such as “chiasmus”, “anaphora”, “alliteration”, “roman a clef”, etc.)
  • an introduction to the idea and uses of critical theory (but note that students will not be expected to use theoretical discourse in their own work)

Research Skills:

  • a basic ability to use library catalogues and disciplinary citation databases
  • a basic ability to find monographs, print articles and online sources through Western Libraries
  • a basic understanding of the function of different kinds of discipline-specific online databases, such a JStor or Project Muse and the MLA citation database
  • a basic understanding of the nature of secondary scholarship and its uses:
    • what are secondary sources?
    • secondary sources as interpretations and arguments
  • a basic ability to evaluate the scholarly validity of online web sources

Analytic Skills:

  • a basic ability to practice close reading, such as the ability to read against a text or distinguish connotative from denotative meaning
  • an introduction to ideas of authorship and audience
  • a basic ability to evaluate the relationship between rhetoric, form and meaning
  • a basic ability to take effective notes and organize information and analyses

Communication:

  • a basic ability to organize one’s own scholarly writing, whether on the level of the paragraph (topic sentences, old/new contract, de-cluttering, etc.) or the whole argument (relationship between points and particulars)
  • the basic ability to recognize a three-point “hamburger” paper and its limitations
  • the basic ability to articulate a complex, cumulative argument with a surprising or challenging thesis
  • the basic confidence to present ideas orally in small group discussion and informal class participation
  • a basic ability to recognize and apply the editorial conventions of literary scholarship (e.g. layout and citation format)

2000-level courses:

2000-level courses welcome students into the community of literary scholarship. Literary surveys focus on the development of textual traditions across time while courses in theory introduce students to the multitude of tools available for text analysis. Developing research skills and methods of investigation will allow students to begin to articulate their own questions and to situate their own analysis within the discourse of previous scholarship. Assignments will demand independent study in which students develop and explore their own areas of interest and grapple with the difficulties and challenges of the discipline.

For students in an English module, 2000-level courses provide the basic tools necessary for more advanced and independent study. For non-English students, 2000-level courses are an excellent way to complement other modules while indulging in some of the great literature available in the language.

Students who successfully complete the second year of study in English will have:

Content:

  • a basic knowledge of the development of one or more national or cultural literary traditions
  • the developing ability to address the changing forms and expectations of literature across time
  • a developing facility with the tools and language of literary analysis (e.g. an understanding beyond the term “metaphor” which addresses the relationship between vehicle and tenor)
  • a basic knowledge of a variety of scholarly approaches to the study of literature, such as poetics, new criticism or contemporary literary theory
  • an introduction to textual studies

Research Skills:

  • a basic knowledge of specialized research practices, such as better search methods and specialized databases (Iter, EEBO, ECCO, OED, etc.)
  • a basic appreciation of the role of citation in situating scholarly work
  • a developing sense of the academic function of editorial and citation conventions beyond the question of plagiarism
  • a basic ability to critique and review article-length secondary sources
  • a basic ability to enter into a critical conversation with secondary reading

Analytic Skills:

  • developing close-reading skills which combine attention to structure, rhetoric, genre and historical context
  • the developing ability to explore relationships of form and function in a text
  • a basic ability to place a work within a literary tradition, whether defined as a national tradition (e.g. ‘Irish’) or a literary school (e.g. ‘romantics’)
  • a basic ability to apply theoretical approaches to primary texts
  • a basic ability to frame a research question
  • the basic ability to respond constructively to criticism of one’s work
  • a developing ability to take effective notes and organize information and analyses

Communication:

  • a developing confidence and clarity of prose
  • a developing understanding of the relationship between the structure of a critical essay and the progression of its argument
  • a basic ability to situate one’s own ideas within the context of an existing critical discussion
  • a basic ability to integrate textual evidence, theoretical discourse and existing scholarship into a single, unified argument
  • the developing capacity and confidence to engage in class discussions, respond to peers and lecture, and draw on textual evidence to support points while speaking
  • a developing ability to recognize and apply the editorial conventions of literary scholarship (e.g. MLA layout and citation format)

3000-level courses:

3000-level courses allow students to focus on topics, whether an historical period, a cultural tradition or a literary theme, which pique their own critical curiosity. Class discussions will address the interactions of texts with one another, with their historical moment or with larger social trends. Students will also explore how scholarship has evolved over time and learn how to place their own thought and writing within a developing and ongoing critical tradition. Advanced research skills, tailored to specific critical problems, will allow students to develop habits of independent exploration and analysis which will lead to nuanced and persuasive written work which fully participates in the discipline of English studies.

Typically, students in an English module will be enrolled in 3000-level courses in their third and fourth years. A reasonable amount of choice in the modules will allow English students to pursue their own interests while becoming members of an academic community. Students not in English modules will find courses which stimulate their critical imaginations while complementing their own module offerings.

Students who successfully complete the third year of study in English will have:

Content:

  • an increasingly advanced understanding of several focused literary traditions
  • an increasingly advanced understanding of one or more genres
  • an advanced understanding and deployment of the language of literary analysis
  • a developing facility with a variety of approaches, theories and techniques which can be applied to the study of literature
  • a basic understanding of the changing forms of texts, whether physical or digital
  • a basic understanding of the evolution of English morphology, phonology, syntax and lexicon across time and /or place

Research Skills:

  • proficiency with the essential tools of literary scholarship (library catalogues, citation and content databases) and the more specialized tools of several different fields (Iter, ECCO, etc.)
  • an introduction to several highly specialized research tools and their uses (such as variorum editions, published bibliographies, concordances, etc.)
  • an advanced appreciation of the use of citation in one’s own work and within the critical tradition
  • a basic ability to recognize and describe the development of a scholarly tradition surrounding individual periods, authors, issues or even texts
  • an advanced ability to critique and review secondary sources within the context of their scholarly tradition

Analytic Skills:

  • an advanced ability to analyze a text’s rhetoric and form and to employ that analysis in a broader argument
  • the developing ability to analyze a piece of literature within its specific cultural context
  • a developing ability to apply a variety of scholarly or theoretical approaches to the analysis of texts
  • a developing ability to frame a complex research question which builds on and responds to an ongoing critical discourse
  • a basic ability to recognize and account for underlying theories, concepts, assumptions and arguments (both in one’s own analysis and in that of other critics)
  • the basic ability to self-evaluate, so as to recognize and develop one’s best insights or questions
  • the developing ability to respond constructively to criticism of one’s work
  • advanced planning, organizational and note-taking skills

Communication:

  • a clear, concise and compelling prose style, free of technical errors
  • a developing ability to structure a complex and engaging argument
  • a developing ability to present one’s own analysis within the context of a specific theoretical approach
  • a developing ability to present one’s own analysis while confidently engaging with existing scholarship
  • a developing capacity to engage in class discussions and respond meaningfully to lecture material and peer discussion while using textual evidence as support
  • the basic ability to present one’s work in a variety of more or less formal genres (seminar presentations, blog posts, performance, etc.)
  • a mastery of the format and citation method of academic writing

4000-level courses:

4000-level courses are designed for Honours students (whether those in an HSP or a Double Major). Fourth-year, non-Honours students with a 70% average may also enroll in 4000-level courses. These courses typically explore narrowly defined topics: a particular work or author, a brief historical moment, or a clearly defined theoretical issue. Students and faculty will engage with the texts at hand and the surrounding critical tradition. Deploying and expanding their critical skills, students will find and explore their own research questions while situating their argument within an ongoing conversation. 4000-level seminars are an opportunity for sustained, independent study within the structure of a communal seminar.

The small, seminar setting prepares English students for continued study at the graduate level. 4000-level courses are typically not suitable for students not in English modules unless the topic specifically complements the student’s work in their home module.

Students who successfully complete the fourth year of study in English will have:

Content:

  • an increasingly advanced understanding of several narrowly defined topics (themes, authors, etc.)
  • an increasingly advanced understanding of one or more genres
  • an advanced understanding and deployment of the language of literary analysis
  • an advanced facility with a variety of approaches, theories and techniques which can be applied to the study of literature
  • a basic understanding of the changing forms of texts, whether physical or digital
  • a basic understanding of the evolution of English morphology, phonology, syntax and lexicon across time and /or place
  • a basic ability to articulate their own skill set

Research Skills:

  • advanced proficiency with the essential tools of literary scholarship (library catalogues, citation and content databases) and the more specialized tools of several different fields (Iter, ECCO, etc.)
  • a basic understanding several highly specialized research tools and their uses (such as variorum editions, published bibliographies, concordances, etc.)
  • an advanced appreciation of the use of citation in one’s own work and within the critical tradition
  • a developing ability to recognize and describe the evolution of a scholarly tradition surrounding individual periods, authors, issues or texts
  • an advanced ability to critique and review secondary sources within the context of their scholarly tradition

Analytic Skills:

  • an advanced ability to analyze a text’s rhetoric and form and to employ that analysis in a broader argument
  • the advanced ability to analyze a piece of literature within its specific cultural context
  • an advanced ability to apply a variety of scholarly or theoretical approaches to the analysis of texts
  • a developing ability to frame a complex research question which builds on and responds to an ongoing critical discourse
  • a developing ability to recognize and account for underlying theories, concepts, assumptions and arguments (both in one’s own analysis and in that of other critics)
  • the developing ability to self-evaluate, so as to recognize and develop one’s best insights or questions
  • the developing ability to respond constructively to criticism of one’s work
  • advanced planning, organizational and note-taking skills

Communication:

  • a clear, concise and compelling prose style, free of technical errors
  • a developing ability to structure a complex and engaging argument
  • a developing ability to present one’s own analysis within the context of a specific theoretical approach
  • a developing ability to present one’s own analysis while confidently engaging with existing scholarship
  • a developing capacity to engage in class discussions and respond meaningfully to class discussion while using textual evidence as support
  • the developing ability to present one’s work in a variety of more or less formal genres (seminar presentations, blog posts, performance, etc.)
  • an advanced mastery of the format and citation method of academic writing