UCOR 102: Early American Women Writers

Imaginative Literature and Critical Thinking

Section 35: T/TH 8:00-9:15 Fisher Hall 442

Section 28: T/TH 9:25-10:40 Fisher Hall 628

Section 45: T/TH 12:15-1:30 Fisher Hall 335

Instructor: Gregory D. Specter
Office: College Hall 632
Email: specterg@duq.edu
Twitter: @gregspecter
Office Hours: T/TH 11:00-12 and by appointment


John Singleton Copley, Portrait of a Lady, 1771, oil on canvas, Philbrook Museum of Art, Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Course Introduction

UCOR 102 is an introduction to imaginative literature and to critical techniques for interpreting imaginative literature. In this course students apply the academic-writing and critical- thinking skills they developed in UCOR 101 to the analysis of literature. Reading and analyzing texts from the three primary genres of literature (poetry, fiction, and drama), students will write 16 pages of literary analysis resulting from a serious engagement with the writing process as initially introduced in 101. In 102, moreover, students will be asked to use scholarly sources in a research paper on literature and to continue to sharpen their documentation skills.

Our readings for this class will focus on novels, poetry, and from the Early National Period of the United States. Over the course of our readings we will address issues related to gender, race, education, and other connected topics. An important component of our class will be working with a variety of archival materials found in our course readings, accessible through Gumberg Library and online sources, and additional reproduced archival materials provided by the instructor. By working with our course readings, primary sources, and secondary sources we will address the academic conventions of writing about literature in the academic setting. Our class will provide opportunities to develop and research a variety of arguments that will be presented through writing and culminate in a low-stakes digital humanities project.

Required Texts and Recommended Texts

Foster, Hannah Webster, Jennifer Harris, and Bryan Waterman. The Coquette, and The Boarding School: Authoritative Texts, Sources and Contexts, Criticism. A Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton, 2013. Print.

Rowson, Susanna and Marion Rust. Charlotte Temple: Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism. A Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton, 2011. Print.

Wheatley, Phillis, and Vincent Carretta. Complete Writings. New York: Penguin, 2001. Print.

Tyler, Royall, and Cynthia A. Kierner. The Contrast: Manners, Morals, and Authority in the Early American Republic. New York: New York University Press, 2007. Print.

In addition to the required texts, the following items are recommended: a notebook for low stakes writing assignments, a folder to keep course materials, a flash drive to save work, access to an online file hosting service in order to back up your work. Additionally, it is recommended that you have access to a style guide that can provide information about the writing process, common issues that writers face, and basic information about MLA formatting.

Library Guide

Ted Bergfelt, a librarian at Gumberg Library, developed a special library


Unidentified Artist, Phillis Wheatley, engraving on paper, 1773, National Portrait Gallery. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons

guide specifically tailored to our class. Our library guide is a portal to a variety of primary and secondary sources accessible through Gumberg Library and beyond. The Library Guide features background and context material for our texts along with information that will aid in completing many of our assignments. The Library Guide provides access to primary and secondary sources hosted by libraries and archives across the country. The Library Guide features information and resources for working with various digital humanities tools. Lastly, the Library Guide includes information about MLA citations and bibliography formatting. The library guide can be accessed through Gumberg’s website or directly here.

Course Goals

Knowledge of Literature

a. Students will engage in close, critical reading of literary texts
b. Students will identify traditional literary genres such as narrative fiction, poetry, and drama, as well as other genres such as film and creative nonfiction
c. Students will understand the fundamental literary devices and be able to analyze and explore how these fundamental literary devices create meanings in a text
d. Students will recognize that there are different frameworks for analyzing literature, such as social, historical, philosophical, generic, biographical, and others


Statue of Phillis Wheatley by Sharon Mollerus

Processes and Conventions

a. Students will write with an emphasis on process, and use drafting to improve their writing, critical thinking, and analysis skills
b. Students will apply the tools of rhetorical analysis to literary and other creative or imaginative texts
c. Students will be able to locate and use sources on usage and mechanics
d. Students will demonstrate an understanding of grammatically correct standard written English and will be held accountable for using standard written English in their written work

Research Writing Skills

a. Students will produce thesis-driven, coherently organized, evidence-based, academic analyses of literature
b. Students will read, understand, respond to, and incorporate into their own writing scholarly or peer-reviewed sources in literary criticism or other disciplines
c. Students will identify relevant scholarly secondary sources for a research paper on literature and integrate those sources correctly, relevantly, and ethically into their own work
d. In source-based writing, students will correctly use a recognized citation/documentation style such as MLA or APA


Page image of Charlotte Temple. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Quizzes / In Class Writing / Participation / Attendance: 10%

• A variety of in-class assignments & activities meant to measure student engagement

Close Reading Number 1: 10%
• A 2 page close reading assignment focusing on literary analysis of Charlotte Temple.

Close Reading Number 2: 10%
• A 2 page close reading assignment focusing on literary analysis of The Coquette and an additional primary source.

Close Reading Number 3: 10%
• A 2 page close reading assignment focusing on a literary analysis of The Boarding School and an object.

Final Essay Exam: 10%
• An in-class essay where students will reflect on course themes, a primary text of their choice, and their time in the class.

Argumentative Essay and Digital Humanities Project: 50% total

Project Proposal: 10%

A 2 page paper proposing a topic and method for a paper exploring either Charlotte Temple, The Coquette, or The Boarding School and culminating in a 5 page paper and a low-stakes digital humanities project. The paper and digital humanities project is driven by close reading, primary research, and secondary research.

Bibliographic Essay: 10%

Drawing on their proposal students will write a bibliographic essay that highlights a selection of primary and secondary sources related to their proposed project on Charlotte Temple, The Coquette, or The Boarding School.

Argumentative Research Project: 20%

A 5 page argumentative paper utilizing close reading skills and primary and secondary research on Charlotte Temple, The Coquette, or The Boarding School.

Digital Humanities Project: 10%

A low stakes digital humanities project where students use a tool / presentation method of their choice of to create a public facing project. This assignment includes a 2 page discussion and reflection on their project.

Grade Scale


Embroidered Sample by Millsent Connor, 1799. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch. http://www.metmuseum.org

A 93-100%; A- 90-92%; B+ 88-89%; B 83-87%; B-; 80-82%; C+ 78-79%; C 70-77%; D 60-69%; F 0-59%


Students may miss no more than 6 TTH or 9 MWF classes—excused or unexcused—and pass the class. (The only exception to this rule—that is, the only absences that do not count as absences—are absences incurred as a result of participation in a varsity sport or university-sanctioned activity. However, students who will miss a significant number of classes because of such activity are not entitled to any special consideration and must turn in work on time.) Attendance will be taken every class period. While there is no penalty for the allotted absences described above, class participants will be held to the standard of automatic failure if they exceed the number of absences. Class participants are expected to arrive on time. We will do several activities and low stakes writings in class and these cannot be made up in the event of an absence. Please contact me if there is a major issue affecting your attendance or your ability to do well in our class.


Henry Benbridge,  Elizabeth Ann Timothy (Mrs. William Williamson), ca. 1775-85, watercolor on ivory. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1926, http://www.metmuseum.org


Technology Policy

Feel free to use cell phones, tablets, and computers in class as portals to content related to our class. Technology can be a powerful tool for learning. Together we will do our best to make the most of this power. We will use these tools to facilitate our thinking, writing, and learning. If we have questions we will use these tools to find answers. Please be aware that technology can be a distraction to our own work and the work of others. Make sure that your devices are running muted or turned to silent.



Desk and Bookcase, workshop of Nathaniel Gould, 1779, mahogany and white pine. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1909, http://www.metmuseum.org

Our time together will consist of a lot of discussion and interaction with each other. Participation is an important part of ensuring success as a learning, thinker, and writer. Much of our writing and thinking instruction will be practiced through discussion and personal interaction. We will model best practices for writing and thinking by doing so through discussion. Participation can mean different things for students with different styles of learning. Recognizing that learning occurs in different ways and at different times, participation will not be assigned a formal grade, but it is understood that its importance will payoff in other ways, especially with our major writing assignments. We will collaborative address any issues regarding participation if they arise at any point in the semester.

Schedule of Readings and Assignments

Please note I reserve the right to change the schedule, assignments, and syllabus at any time based on the needs of our class. It is your responsibility to make sure you know about any changes in the syllabus if you miss class.

Click “agenda” to see readings and assignments in an easy to access list

Spring 2016 UCOR 102 Syllabus Common Statements and Notices