Course Syllabus


Course Information

Instructor: April Pelt 


Office: 502 Lebanon Road, Pendleton, SC 29670 (off campus)

Office Hours: By appointment

Classroom: Daniel 412

Course Description

At its peak in the early twentieth century, the British Empire spanned almost a quarter of the globe and included nearly twenty percent of the world’s population. In this section of English 2120, we will examine how nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary works—including those by authors at “home” in England and throughout the British Empire—grapple with the personal, political, cultural, socioeconomic, racial, sexual, and linguistic anxieties born of British imperialism.  

Learning Outcomes

In this course, you will learn to:

  • Identify the historical, cultural, social, economic, and political developments that have shaped (and, in some instances, continue to shape) world literature and culture
  • Perform close textual analysis of literary works in formal writing assignments and informal class discussions
  • Draw connections among literary works from different genres, cultures, and historical eras
  • Compose multimodal (aural, visual, and/or written) and analytical responses to assigned novels and plays

In addition to the outcomes listed above, this course will provide you with the opportunity to meet the following goals:

  • Improve your writing skills through daily practice, required writing fellow conferences, and optional conferences with the instructor  
  • Expand your vocabulary and reading comprehension abilities by adopting active reading strategies
  • Broaden your horizons by allowing you to understand perspectives and experiences that are different from your own
  • Engage in respectful debate with your fellow learners about a variety of sensitive topics, including religion, race, gender, sexuality, and mental illness

Required Materials and Resources

You will need to purchase or borrow the following books and for this course:

  • The British Empire: A Very Short Introduction (978-0199605415)
  • Jane Eyre (9781551111803 )
  • Wide Sargasso Sea (978-0393960129)
  • Heart of Darkness (9781551113074 )
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (9781551116556)
  • Things Fall Apart (978-0385474542)
  • The Autobiography of My Mother (978-0374531874)
  • The Icarus Girl (978-1400078752)
  • Translations (978-0571117420)

Buy whichever editions are cheapest/most convenient for you. Ebooks are perfectly acceptable, but I'd prefer it if you didn't read on your phone. 

You will also need to bring a laptop computer to class every day to complete your daily in-class writing assignments.

In addition to the required books, you will also need:

  • A or email account
  • Internet access 
  • Word Processing software
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader

I will post all announcements and reminders on Canvas, so be sure to check your email several times per week. You can manage how often you receive Canvas notifications by clicking on your username in the upper right-hand corner, then clicking on "Notifications" in the sidebar on the left-hand side of the page 

Course Requirements

Informed Engagement (200 points, or 20% of your final grade): You must publicly demonstrate your engagement with and understanding of the course material by participating in class discussions and activities. There are multiple ways to demonstrate informed engagement:

  1. In-class Discussions: Contribute thoughtful responses and/or pose helpful, relevant questions during our in-class discussions.
  2. Topics for Discussion: Your questions and comments will largely drive our class discussion. You can earn informed engagement credit by adding potential questions or topics of conversation to the Google Docs for class discussion (hyperlinked from the dates on our course schedule). If you'd like to focus on a particular passage/scene, be sure to include the passage's page/chapter numbers or the scene's beginning and ending times.  
  3. Canvas Discussions: Contribute thoughtful responses and/or pose helpful, relevant questions in our online forums. (This is  great option for people who are shy!) Do not merely regurgitate points from our in-class discussion on Canvas; extend the conversation instead. I'll post open forums for each of our novels in the Discussions area.   
  4. In-class Activities: Take an active role in all small group activities and remain on task.
  5. Show and Tell: Because this course asks you to be an equal partner in your own learning, you’ll be responsible for finding relevant background information and sharing it with your classmates. We’ll be using Yellowdig, a social pinning site that’s integrated into Canvas, for our Show and Tell activities. As you're looking for items to share for Show and Tell, be sure to: 
    • Find a credible source that provides context for or explains a key element of our assigned readings or viewing. Online study guides (SparkNotes, Shmoop, eNotes, etc.) and encyclopedia articles are not acceptable sources for this activity. Substantial articles in literary magazines and scholarly articles are generally fine; blogs are probably best avoided. Interviews with the author or director, when available, can be promising. If you’re unsure whether your source is legit or not, ask! I’m always happy to answer questions. 
    • Post your source and a list of key takeaways and/or questions for further consideration on Yellowdig. Write at least 100 words.
    • Comment on your classmates’ posts. Make sure your comments (1) are germane to your classmates’ posts and (2) demonstrate that you’ve actually read the source your classmate posted. Write at least 50 words. 
    • Two people can’t post the same source, so be sure to check and see what others have posted before you go hunting for your own source.

Informal Writing Assignments (200 points, or 20% of your final grade): This category includes small things, like your daily in-class writing activities, quizzes, and graded discussion forums (which we’ll use if I can't make it to class). About the in-class writing activities: you’ll write something in class every day. Think of these low-stakes writing assignments as warm-up exercises that will help you get plugged into the material before we launch into our discussions/main activities. Unlike your official projects, these will be informal, so I won’t be paying attention to things like grammar and spelling.

Solo Project (150 points; 15% of final grade): Each student must complete an individual project. There are four different types of projects that you may complete to fulfill this requirement. All individual projects are due before 11:59 p.m. the week after we finish reading the novel that you're writing about. (Consult the schedule for a list of all due dates.)  

  • Scholarly Article Reports: Using the library’s databases, locate a scholarly article that discusses the assigned novel or play. Read the article carefully, then write a 1,000- to 1,250-word essay that both summarizes and evaluates the author's argument. Visit the Scholarly Article Report Overview page for more in-depth guidelines (including a rubric). 
  • Soundtrack Essay: The 1,000- to 1,250-word Soundtrack Essay (SE) asks you to select a song to soundtrack one of our assigned literary works and explain how that song reflects some aspect of the text. There are multiple ways to approach this assignment. You may, for instance, choose to write about how a particular song addresses one or more of the assigned work's themes. You might also explain how a song’s lyrics, music, and/or tone expresses a character’s mental state or illuminates his or her relationships with others. Regardless of your approach to this assignment, you should support your thesis with specific details from both the novel and the selected song. Visit the Soundtrack Essay Overview page for more in-depth guidelines (including a rubric and a sample essay). 
  • Creative Rewriting: The Creative Rewriting (CR) project asks you to reimagine one of our assigned readings. This reimagining can take many forms: you can rewrite a scene from the novel/play from a different character's point of view (a la Wide Sargasso Sea and Jane Eyre), create a comic book version of the novel, craft a screenplay for a portion of the text, rewrite the text so that it occurs in a different cultural and/or historical context, reimagine it as a children's book--you can even write a song about it. Choose a medium that works to your strengths and interests. In addition to adapting the play or novel, you will write a 600- to 750-word essay explaining your creative choices. More in-depth guidelines (including a rubric and a sample project) are available on the Creative Rewriting Overview page. 
  • Social Networking Adaptation Project: The Social Networking Adaptation Project (SNAP) asks you to recreate one of the assigned readings through one or more social networking platforms and write a 600- to 750-word essay explaining your creative choices. More in-depth guidelines (including a rubric and a sample project) are available on the Social Networking Adaptation Project page. 

Although you may not complete additional projects to earn extra credit, you can "erase" and replace unsatisfactory grades by completing additional projects. (See Grade "Erasure" and Replacement below for more details.) 

Play Performance Project (150 points; 15% of final grade): Although necessity often dictates that English courses approach plays as written works, they are actually performed texts. Multiple factors—including casting choices, costumes, actors’ performances, and set design—help bring the playwright’s script to life for an audience. The collaborative Play Performance Project (PPP) gives you the opportunity to stage part of Brian Friel’s Translations. Working together, each group will select a five- to ten-page section of the play to stage. Then, you will cast the roles with current actors, create a virtual model of the set, design costumes for each character, and annotate the script to explain how you would like actors to deliver their lines, carry themselves, and move around the stage. You will also work together to craft a multimedia presentation that presents project to your classmates. The exact nature of this multimedia project is up to the group: you may create a video, a website, a Canvas module, etc. Please note: If one of your groupmates is an unreliable parasite, you may write me an email detailing how s/he is failing to perform his/her duties. If I determine that s/he is not contributing equally to the group effort, I will deduct up to 150 points from his/her project grade. 

Exams (300 points, or 30% of your final grade): You will take three exams this semester, each of which will feature three sections. In the first section, you will answer a series of multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions about the assigned readings. In the second section, you will identify and explain the significance of short passages from the assigned readings. In the third section, you will provide short answers to questions about literary works, authors, cultures, historical events, and/or literary terms. Make-up exams for excused absences will feature an essay format. Each exam is worth 100 points, or 10% of your final grade. Exams will be administered through Canvas's Respondus Lockdown Browser feature, so be sure to download or update Respondus ahead of time and bring your fully charged laptop with you on exam days. Students whose laptops are malfunctioning should make arrangements to borrow a laptop for the exam or check out an iPad from the library's collection. If you require extra time or a reduced distraction testing environment for exams, it is your responsibility to make arrangements to take the exam at the SDS testing center. 


I will calculate your grade using a 1,000-point scale. Points are distributed as follows:  



Grading Breakdown

Informed Engagement

200 points

Informal Writing Assignments

200 points


300 points

Individual Project

150 points

Group Project

150 points


1,000 points

Your final grade will be determined by the points you’ve earned throughout the semester. I do not round borderline scores up to the next letter grade.

The following table breaks down the point ranges associated with each letter grade:   



Grading Scale


900 – 1000 points


800 – 899 points


700 – 799 points


600 – 699 points


Below 600 points

Course and University Policies

Attendance: Participation is essential to your success in this course, so you should plan to attend every class meeting. Unexcused absences will negatively affect your Informed Engagement grade. If you need to miss class, you should plan to complete your work ahead of time. Students who provide documentation will not be penalized for absences due to serious or prolonged illnesses, a death in the family, participation in legal proceedings, participation in university-sponsored activities, or documented emergencies. If you know that you'll be missing class ahead of time, you will need to make arrangements to complete your work beforehand. The attendance grade recorded via Canvas merely shows what percentage of classes you've attended; it doesn't factor in to your grade. 

Tardiness: Habitual tardiness will negatively impact your Informed Engagement grade. If you come in after the attendance sheet circulates, see me after class to ensure that you are marked present.

Late Work: I really don’t like accepting late work, but I also understand that you all have lives that sometimes get in the way of you turning in your work on time. If you cannot turn in your assignment on time, let me know as soon as possible so that we can make arrangements.

Grade "Erasure and "Replacement: If you are unhappy with the grade you earn on any of the solo projects, you may "erase" the unsatisfactory grade and replace it by completing an additional project or projects. (Ideally, you will get feedback on your work prior to turning it in, thus avoiding the need to replace your grade.) To take advantage of this option, you will need to send me an email asking me to clear your prior submissions before you resubmit a different assignment.

Class Cancellations: In the unlikely event that class is canceled, I will notify you as soon as possible via Canvas and email. In general, we will meet online instead of in person. If you haven't received a message from me and I do not arrive within fifteen minutes of the beginning of class, you may assume that class is canceled for the day and leave. If class is cancelled due to inclement weather or any other emergency situation, I will determine how best to make up the assigned material and will announce my decision on Canvas as soon as possible. 

Electronic DevicesI don’t allow students use laptops, phones, and tablets in class unless we’re doing an activity that requires them. I have a few reasons for this.

    1. Research has shown that notetaking on laptops is less effective than taking notes by hand.
    2. This is a discussion and project-based course, so there are no exams that require you to regurgitate class notes. (There are exams, but not the sort that require you to recall specific facts that are only provided in lecture.)
    3. If you’re goofing around on the internet, texting, and/or doing work for another course, you risk distracting your classmates. Since we’re sitting in a circle, there’s no way to keep your laptop/phone/tablet screen private.

Violating this policy will result in a penalty to your Informed Engagement grade. If you need to be available by phone or text due to a family emergency, let me know. I’m not unreasonable!  

Feedback: I am always happy to offer you feedback on your work in progress. As you're drafting, feel free to send quick questions about theses, introductions, organization, etc. via email. If you would like me to review a full draft, please make an appointment to talk with me in person. If you have questions about MLA citation or format, please try to find the answer on your own before contacting me. (After all, if you can type your question into a message to me, you can also type it into the search engine of your choice!)

Grading: I will do my best to return all graded material to you within one week (excluding weekends and official university holidays/closures). If I require more time, I will alert you in advance. 

Grading Questions: If you have a question about your grade, please wait twenty-four hours after the assignment is returned and contact me via email. I do not discuss grades in person--only in writing--and I require a 24-hour "cool down" period before I answer questions about your graded work. Please be as specific as possible in your email so that I can address your questions and concerns in a timely manner.

Academic Integrity: Per the University's Academic Integrity policy, any work that you submit in this course must be your own. Any words, ideas, or data that you borrow from other people and include in your written work must be properly documented. Failure to document borrowed material is plagiarism. In addition, you may not submit work completed for other courses for credit in this course. If I determine that you have violated the Academic Integrity policy, I will either present you with a Plagiarism Resolution Form or make a formal written charge of academic dishonesty (including a description of the suspected misconduct) to the Associate Dean for Curriculum in the Office of Undergraduate Studies. University policy stipulates that I am not required to notify you of any allegations brought before the Associate Dean for Curriculum. If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please get in touch with me before you turn in a final draft of your work. 

Course and University Resources

Instructor Email and Conferences: Please contact me as soon as possible with any questions or concerns that you have about the course or your academic performance in the course. The best way to get in touch with me is via the "Ask April" discussion thread or by email at (Use email for all inquiries related to your personal performance in the course; use the Ask April forum for general questions related to the course.) I respond to discussion board and email inquiries throughout the day on weekdays, once or twice a day on weekends, and frequently the night before assignments are due. You may also make an appointment to talk to me in person, either in the library or in my off-campus office. I'm always happy to help, so don't be a stranger! 

Academic Success Center: The Academic Success Center provides free services, including tutoring, academic coaching, and academic skills workshops, for all Clemson students. Visit for more information on their services and workshops.

Writing Center: Clemson University’s Writing Center offers free one-on-one tutoring for all Clemson students. Visit their website for more information about their services or to make an appointment.

Cooper Library: Reference librarians are available in person and via text, phone, email, and chat to answer your research questions. Visit for more information or to get in touch with a librarian.

Technical Support: If you are having hardware or software problems, CCIT's Service Desk may be able to help you. Contact them at with a detailed description of your problem.

Student Disability Services: Clemson University values the diversity of our student body as a strength and a critical component of our dynamic community. Students with disabilities or temporary injuries/conditions may require accommodations due to barriers in the structure of facilities, course design, technology used for curricular purposes, or other campus resources. Students who experience a barrier to full access to this class should let the professor know, and make an appointment to meet with a staff member in Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. You can make an appointment by calling 864-656-6848, by emailing, or by visiting Suite 239 in the Academic Success Center building. Appointments are strongly encouraged–drop-ins will be seen if at all possible, but there could be a significant wait due to scheduled appointments. Students who receive Academic Access Letters are strongly encouraged to request, obtain and present these to their professors as early in the semester as possible so that accommodations can be made in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to follow this process each semester. You can access further information here:

Non-Discrimination: Clemson University is committed to providing a higher education environment that is free from sexual discrimination. Therefore, if you believe you or someone else that is part of the Clemson University community has been discriminated against based on sex, or if you have questions about Title IX, please contact the Title IX Coordinator Alesia Smith, who is also the Executive Director of Equity Compliance, at 110 Holtzendorff Hall, 864-656-3181 (voice) or 864-656-0899 (TDD). The Title IX Coordinator is the person(s) designated by Clemson University to oversee its Title IX compliance efforts.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due