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ENGL 207 Ethics in Literature

Ethics in Literature studies poems, short stories, drama and novels with the intention of probing both their literary merit and the ethical questions embedded within them. Students apply literary terminology and basic principles of ethics in order to understand and appreciate these works. The course emphasizes close and perceptive reading, thoughtful discussion and reflection. This course is writing intensive.

Barbara Cooper
DH 231
(443) 518-4851

Course Description

Provide a brief description of your course.

Course Objectives

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Effectively exchange ideas about literature.
  • Discuss ethical principles relevant to an author’s work.
  • Develop essays that analyze the ethical implications of literary works.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of conventions of writing about literature.
  • Assess power of literature to address ethical values and to challenge human behavior.
  • Think critically in evaluating and analyzing literature.
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of literary devices.
  • Recognize the historical, social, religious, and philosophical context of the  literature.

Required Texts and Materials

The Moral Life: An Introduction in Ethics and Literature, 3rd Edition, Louis Pojman, Ed.

Kate Chopin, The Awakening, Dover Thrift edition

J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace

Ariel Dorfman, Death and the Maiden, Penguin Plays edition

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Folger Shakespeare Library edition

David Simon and Edward Burns, The Corner

Recommended Texts and Materials

A college dictionary and an English handbook

Course Format

  • This class is not self-paced.
  • This class does not have required on-campus meetings or tests.
  • The course material is sequential.
  • There is a specific timeline for the completion of each assignment in this class.
  • The policy on late assignments is a 10% penalty for late work submitted within one week of the due date; no late work accepted beyond one week past due.
  • Some of the types of learning activities or assignments that the student will be required to complete are:
  • Read two novels, one play, one work of narrative non-fiction, as well as selections from an ethics in literature anthology.
  • Participate in Canvas discussions of the reading assignment each week with the class.
  • Write two essays of approximately 1000-1250 words, using primarily and secondary sources and MLA-style documentation.
  • Instructions and directions for each assignment will be provided in Canvas.
  • The course calendar will list due dates for papers, projects, and exams.
  • There will be a midterm and a final exam; the final exam will NOT be cumulative.
  •       Exams will be open book and will not be taken on-campus. Exams, like all other coursework, will be submitted to the instructor through Canvas mail. 

Visit the Distance Learning homepage and use the link provided in the “Support for Registered Students” area link to download plug-ins. The following plug-ins are required for this class:

  • Acrobat Viewer
  • Excel Viewer, if you don’t have the full version of Microsoft Excel
  • Flash
  • Internet Explorer
  • Java installed and enabled
  • PowerPoint Viewer, if you don’t have the full version of Microsoft PowerPoint
  • QuickTime
  • Real Player
  • Windows Media Player
  • Word Viewer, if you don’t have the full version of Microsoft Word

Class Communications: What to Expect from Your Instructor

  • All email/voice messages will be acknowledged, typically within 24 hrs.
  • Alternative forms of contact, such as phone calls and face-to-face meetings will be available during my office hours. (See the times and days of the week at the top of this document.) *
  • I will read assignments/discussion forums and provide comments/responses within one week
  • Each assignment will be graded and returned within one week.
  • Exams will be graded within one week.

Grading Procedures

Grades will be determined by your scores on the following learning activities:

Canvas Discussions
(Required postings to each discussion on the week’s topics.)

10 %

Essay 1

15 %

Essay 2


Midterm Exam

15 %

Final Exam

15 %

Reading Journal


Reading Quizzes


NOTE: Students must complete all required assignments as outlined in order to pass the course.

 All assignments are due on the dates shown in the class calendar; generally, all assignments for the week will be due by midnight on Saturday.

  •       Weekly participation is required in this class.

 Assignments that are turned in late will be accepted with a 10% late penalty within one week after the due date.

  •       Assignments more than one week late will NOT be accepted. 

Weekly Discussion Assignments

I will post the week’s Canvas class discussion topics by midnight each Sunday.  Students will be required to post their own responses by Thursday and respond to at least two fellow student’s response each week by midnight on Saturday.  After Saturday at midnight each week, discussion topics for the week will be closed so that no more responses may be posted. In an online class, these postings and reactions are how we establish a dialogue in the class, so they are a very important part of the course.


The midterm and final exams will follow a similar format, with sections of quotation identification and analysis, discussion questions, and an essay.  The final exam will not be cumulative.

Course Policies

Assignment Format and Documentation Requirements

All graded assignments will be submitted to me in Canvas Mail, with your work pasted directly in the body of the Canvas Mail message, and the name of the assignment in the subject line of the message.

Student Responsibility

Students are responsible for maintaining copies of all of their written work on your computer or on floppy disk in case of the need for retransmission. Students are responsible for keeping the instructor informed in the event of emergencies or unusual circumstances leading to extended absence from class participation. See the phone numbers at the top of this syllabus.

Academic Honesty

This class observes the plagiarism policy described in the student handbook.  For the first case of intentional plagiarism, the student will receive a zero for the assignment.  For a second offence (in this class or any other at HCC), the student will fail the course.  Third-time offenders will face disciplinary action from the college, including suspension.  All cases of plagiarism will be reported to the college administration and will be including in the student’s permanent record.

Extra Help in Writing

If you feel the need for more guidance with your writing, there are several places to go. You can see me during my office hours, or schedule an appointment. The Write Room in L230 and the Composition and Literature Center in ELB 210 offer individual assistance for students looking for help with writing. If you need more help using the computers, HCC offers free Word classes, and there are tutors available during the Open Writing Lab hours in the ELB building.  Finally, the Howard Online Writing Lab (HOWL) offers online assistance for HCC students.  Below are some helpful links for HCC students:

Composition and Literature Center (ELB 210):  During the fall semester, the CLC will be open for English tutoring from 9:00 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.  Monday - Thursday and 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. on Friday.  I will tutor in the CLC from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. on Thursdays this semester.

Learning Assistance Center (L240): Students are also invited to make use of the drop-in tutoring available in the Learning Assistance Center, particularly in the Write Room (located in the library, L240). 

Howard Online Writing Lab (HOWL):  Unable to come into campus for help with a writing assignment?  Try using HOWL, HCC's on-line writing lab.  HCC students may use HOWL at any stage

What to Do If You Need Help

About the Course

If you have questions about your course (assignments, due dates, problems completing assignments, how to submit assignment or navigate the Canvas course site, etc.), you should contact me by email or by phone. The HCC Help Desk cannot answer questions about specific course content.

Help in Canvas

Canvas has a built-in Help that can be accessed from any page in your course. Look for the Help link at the top of each page.

Difficulty Logging on to Canvas:

If you are having difficulty logging on to Canvas and you know it is not a result of problems with your Internet Service Provider or your browser, contact:
Help Desk: General Information or this form to request help.

Student Computer Support now staffs a help desk. Students and faculty may call 443-518-4444  between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.  Friday to report problems. After hours, students and faculty may leave a message at the same number. Student Computer Support staff will handle the problem or direct it to the correct person to handle.

When leaving a message, be sure to leave your name, the course you are enrolled in, your course instructor's name, your phone number, your e-mail address, and a description of the problem. Be sure to speak slowly so staff can easily take down your message.

Updated: 27-Jan-09                                 Howard Community College

Student Profile - Maribel