ENG 102: Writing Through Literature

“State of the Union”

4 hours (3 lecture; 1 lab hour), 3 credits.

Mondays, 10:30am-12:45 pm, room E-265

Wednesdays, 10:30-11:30 am, room E-261

Course Blog URL:

Instructor: Makeba Lavan


             Office Hours: By appointment


3 credits, 3 hours: This course extends and intensifies the work of Composition I, requiring students to write critically and analytically about culturally-diverse works of literature. Students are introduced to poetry, drama, and fiction, employing close-reading techniques and other methods of literary criticism. Writing assignments follow a variety of academic formats, including the critical research essay, using research methods and documentation procedures. Admission to the course requires completion of ENG 101. Prerequisite: ENA/ENC/ENG101.


Course Goals:

Focus on all aspects of reading and writing, with particular attention to summary, critical responses to short texts, argumentative development in paragraphs and essays, and the rewriting process.  Competency in writing requires practice. Emphasis on organization, language, accuracy, grammar, and mechanics. Classroom instruction supplemented by individual conferences on drafts with instructor, library resources sessions, and appropriate use of available technology.


Course Objectives:

  • Demonstrate the link between critical reading/thinking and writing.
  • Effective use of analysis in order to connect the common threads in texts.
  • Learn to formulate and support an argument.
  • Learning to clearly articulate thoughts and academic reasoning via writing.
  • Learn and demonstrate the mechanics of a successful academic essay.


Attendance Policy:

Attendance in class is a requirement and will be considered in the evaluation of student performance. Instructors are required to keep an official record of student attendance. The maximum number of unexcused absences is limited to 15% of the number of class hours (approximately 3 absences).

Note: Absences are counted from the first day of class even if they are a result of late registration or change of program.



It is very important to me that our class is as accessible as possible for everyone in it. This means that if I’m ever using language that is not easily understandable, or am speaking too quickly, or am generally coming up short in my responsibility to help you learn the best you can, I always encourage you to let me know in any way that you can (saying something during class, notes, emails, in-person, etc.).


Additionally, if any factors you cannot control — public transportation availability/safety, family safety in the midst of changing immigration policies, etc. — are interfering with your ability to benefit from this class experience, know that there are many resources available to you through LaGuardia.


Some of these resources are housed at the Wellness Center (discussed below and linked here: and others — including legal counseling, financial assistance, health care enrollment, etc. — can be accessed through Single Stop (linked here:


Free and confidential immigration assistance is available through CUNY Citizenship Now, linked here: and CUNY CLEAR, linked here:


Dis/abilities — ranging from anxiety to chronic pain — often go un-discussed in classroom settings, but my goal for this class is to foster a generative learning environment for each student: if I am not succeeding at this, please let me know so that I can make the necessary changes. As I will repeat throughout the syllabus, if you anticipate needing any kind of modification to the class as structured, please let me know as soon as possible.


This includes the ability to draft a separate grading contract with me if you know that any component of the contract is going to be overly burdensome or impossible for you to achieve due to life circumstances or any dis/ability you might experience. Additionally, if you have a documented learning, sensory, physical, or other reason for needing any kind of special accommodation in this class, contact the The Wellness Center in room C-249, email, and phone 718-482-5471. Please feel free to reach out to me for additional assistance.


Protection of Immigrant and Non-Citizen Rights:

If you or your loved ones have a passport from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen, CUNY Clear is offering free legal help in Arabic, Bangla, English, French, Spanish, Urdu, and many other languages. CUNY Clear also offers workshops on how to exercise your rights in the face of police or FBI questioning; what your rights are at the airport and while traveling; how to give to charities without running afoul of complex federal laws; and what to do if you have concerns about informants in your community. Contact them at or (718) 340-4558.


Academic Integrity:

Most of us have heard the warnings: don’t copy-paste from another source or use someone’s quote without citing them, because you’ll fail the course and possibly be subject to disciplinary action.


In our classroom, I want to think about writing beyond “copying” or plagiarizing, and for this reason I refer you to an excerpt from the Writing at Queens website from Queens College, linked below:

“Writing in college really means taking part in a conversation with other scholars, writers, and thinkers. Academic citation is how you demonstrate the relationship between your ideas and those of others. On the other hand, plagiarism is the failure to demonstrate that relationship: to your professors, this will look like stealing other people’s ideas.

You can gain the authority you need to enter these conversations by learning different ways to engage with sources. Authority is not something you already have, or that you find somewhere, or that you get by passing a class: when you write a college paper you create your own authority. Writer Mark Gaipa emphasizes this point when he argues that “[a]uthority . . . is less a characteristic than a relationship that a writer has with other authors” (419). Gaipa provides a number of suggestions for engaging with sources (see the comics version here: What he shows is that your authority as a writer comes in large part from the way that you can relate to other writers. The writing assignments you do in your classes will help you practice the different ways of relating to other writers, and this practice is the thing that your professors really want to see in your writing. –Mark Gaipa, “Breaking into the Conversation: How Students Can Acquire Authority for Their Writing,” Pedagogy 4.3 (2004): 419-437.”, linked here:

Of course, all students in this class will be expected to develop their own writing authority while avoiding plagiarism: you always must cite (refer to) other authors when you are using their ideas, even when you’re not quoting them directly.


The full CUNY policy on academic integrity is linked here — — and more information on how you can best contribute to scholarly conversations can be found on the Writing at Queens website, quoted above and linked here:


The Writing Center:

Located in B200, tutors in The Writing Center are available (by appointment or by dropping in) to help you workshop your writing at various stages. You can find out more about The Writing Center’s services at this link:


Course Assignments and Grading Breakdown:

  • In-class writing 20%
  • Poetry Response Paper, around 600 words 20%
  • V for Vendetta research paper, around 700 words: 20%
  • Drama Response paper, around 600 words: 20%
  • In-class essay: 10%
  • Final Exam: 10%


Required Materials:

Google Drive, Dropbox or a flash drive for essay revisions.


Course Calendar:

Date Reading Assignment Due
Monday, March 6, 2017 Introductions
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 Tour of Class Website/Syllabus
Monday, March 13, 2017 “The Danger of a Single Story”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Single Story Sentence.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”
Monday, March 20, 2017 Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again” Poetry Response Paragraph.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 Workshop single story paragraphs. Post your favorite poems on wordpress.
Monday, March 27, 2017 Favorite poems
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 Review drafts. Poetry Response paper draft
Monday, April 3, 2017 Warsan Shire, “Home”
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 Workshop response paper drafts Poetry Response paper.
Monday, April 10, 2017 Spring


Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Monday, April 17, 2017
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 Alan Moore and David Lloyd: an introduction

Review/Discuss free writes.

Research Paper Free write.
Monday, April 24, 2017 Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 Research Paper workshop. Next steps for your paper.
Monday, May 1, 2017 Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta Research Paper draft.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017 Workshop research paper draft.
Monday, May 8, 2017 Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta Research paper due.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 Quiara Alegria Hudes: an introduction
Monday, May 15, 2017 Quiara Alegria Hudes, Water by the Spoonful Drama freewrite.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 Workshop Drama freewrite.
Monday, May 22, 2017 Quiara Alegria Hudes,  Water by the Spoonful Drama response paper draft.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 Workshop Drama response draft.
Monday, May 29, 2017 No Class, College Closed.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 Quiara Alegria Hudes, Water by the Spoonful
Monday, June 5, 2017 Quiara Alegria Hudes, Water by the Spoonful Drama Response paper due
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 In-class essay.
Monday, June 12, 2017 Final Exam


* If you are absent from class, it is a good idea to email your classmates in order to obtain information you may have missed.

Classmate Contact:


Name __________________ Phone Number ________________ Email___________________


Name __________________ Phone Number ________________ Email __________________