ENG 204: Introduction to Contemporary Literature

Course Description

This course explores currently important works in American literature. We will be reading fiction generally agreed upon as “best” from the last few years. Students can expect to leave class with a better understanding of the breadth of what counts as “literature” in America in 2013.

Course Policies

Late Work Policy

In this class, late papers and assignments will be marked down 5 points every day they are late. So, for instance, a paper that would have earned a 90 would, if two days late, receive an 80. Late responses, however, will merely receive a 0, due to the fact that your lateness will affect your classmates’ ability to comment on your response.

Paper Formatting Policy

Any written work that takes the form of a paper must be formatted with 1” margins and set in Times or Times New Roman font face at a size of 12pt as a Word Document (.DOCX) or a PDF (.PDF), though Word is strongly preferred. Papers will be double or single-spaced as indicated in the assignment, but a double-spaced paper will not have additional blank lines between paragraphs (beyond the natural one line skipped because of the double spacing). Any attempts to change the margins, font face, font size, line spacing, or paragraph spacing will result in the paper receiving a grade of 0.

Additionally, papers submitted for this class may include a heading but the heading will not count toward the overall length of the document.


I expect you to communicate with me in a professional manner at all times. Though we may never meet in person, I am a real person and expect to be treated like one. Furthermore, I care very much about this course and expect you to do the same. On my end, I will also do my best to treat you with respect, dignity, and consideration. Emails should include salutations (such as “Good Morning,” “Hello,” or “Dear Dr. Pilsch”), sign-offs (such as “Sincerely” or “Yours faithfully”), and signature lines (your name). Use complete sentences. Do not use all caps. Avoid text speak by spelling out all words and eschewing abbreviations. Make sure to proofread your emails. Avoid aggressive or whiny language. A one-line email is typically a sign that you are not explaining yourself enough or are being impolite; one-line emails are only appropriate if we have been exchanging many emails about one specific topic and have reached the end of our correspondence about that topic. Above all, remember that politeness is the best way to get what you want from anyone.

Do communicate me about any health-related problems you might have during the semester that may influence your performance in this course. Unfortunately, online courses have high attrition rates, and one way we can combat this tendency to “drop” online courses is by discussing any problems as soon as they emerge. At the same time, I will not have sympathy for students who drop off the face of the earth for weeks at a time and then reappear miraculously right before the semester ends. Computer problems are not valid reasons for missing assignments or turning them in late. By signing on to an online class, you are agreeing that you have reliable access to the Internet and a working computer that you can successfully operate. By taking this class, you are attesting that you know how to use Blackboard.