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Introduction to Fiction


The general education program is dedicated to helping students master the following Humanities Learning Outcomes (HULO).
(1) Students will demonstrate knowledge of diverse philosophical, communicative, linguistic, or literary traditions, as well as of key themes, concepts, issues, terminology, and ethical standards in the humanities disciplines.
(2) Students will analyze cultural artifacts within a given discipline, and, when appropriate, across disciplines, time periods, and cultures.
(3)  Students will demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate their understanding of humanities materials in written, oral, or graphic forms.


The general education program is dedicated to helping students master the following Diversity Learning Outcomes (DVLO). A student who successfully completes a General Education Diversity course will
(1) describe his/her own perspective as one among many,
(2) identify values and biases that inform the perspectives of oneself and others,
(3) recognize and articulate the rights, perspectives, and experiences of others.

Please note that I have indicated the specific Humanities Learning Outcomes (HULO) and the Diversity Learning Outcomes (DVLO) with the particular assignments in our syllabus.  

And, if that isn't dizzying enough, please be aware that these HU/DV outcomes of this course are also connected to the overall student learning outcomes of the English Department and the specific learning outcomes of General Education classes called GELOs.

GELO 1: Content Knowledge. This outcome addresses students' understanding of the worlds in which they live and disciplinary approaches for analyzing those worlds.

GELO 2: Intellectual Tools. This outcome focuses on students' use of and facility with skills necessary for them to construct knowledge, evaluate claims, solve problems, and communicate effectively.

GELO 3: Responsibility to Self and Others. This outcome highlights students' relationship with, obligations to, and sustainable stewardship of themselves, others, and the world to promote diversity, social justice, and personal and community well-being.

GELO 4: Connected & Applied Learning. This outcome emphasizes how students' learning in general education classes can be connected and applied in meaningful ways to new settings and complex problems. 

We will variously work toward these goals throughout semester, in our readings, workshops, discussions pods, and notebooks.  While these GELOs (and HULOs and DVLOs) may, at this point, not make a whole lot of sense to you, and may in fact appear to be far away from our introductory literature class, we will try to connect the dots.  Your final essay or project, in particular--a so-called Signature Assignment--will allow you to demonstrate how well you have learned (and learned to work with) these different outcomes by orchestrating them in (and into) one bigger project.  Please see below and stay tuned for more on this as our class gets going!

(1) Notebook

  • I will ask you to respond in a notebook to the texts you have been assigned to study and think through, sometimes by giving you queries ahead of time, other times by inviting you to come up with questions (and responses) on your own. These notebook responses will serve as a basis for our discussion and need to be ready at the beginning of each class. These entries must be typewritten and double spaced and should (in a reasonable font) be about 2 pages in length per week. Make sure you include your name, the date and a title to indicate the assignment covered. I will reserve the right to call on you to read your entry or summarize it. Please be prepared! I will collect your stapled notebooks at pre-announced times during the semester (see syllabus) so that I can respond constructively to the way you handle the assignments .— Please note that notebooks are not essays. They are evaluated on ideas and substance, not grammatical correctness or "form." Write genuinely and thoughtfully; I encourage you to take risks! Note as well that I will read all of your entries each time, but please indicate one entry or more (with a big * for example) to which you would like me to respond in detail. Here are some Student Sample Notebooks

(2) Attendance and Participation

  • In addition to these writing assignments, you will earn a grade for your attendance and participation in class. By not showing up (or not showing up on time) you deprive yourself of valuable class discussion, just as you deprive your classmates of your own insights—the centerpiece of our collaborative enterprise called teaching and learning. Being present in body and mind is critical for your and our class' success. You will be allowed two (= 2) "freebies" which are intended to cover such emergencies as the day you were sick, going hunting, gambling in Las Vegas, or flying on the Space Shuttle . . . . You get the drift. If you have more than two absences, you jeopardize your good standing in the class and thus your final grade.  If you do have to miss class, please contact a peer -- not me -- to find out what we did and homework for the next class period.   Here is a rough guide how your participation is adjudicated, based on a scale a colleague has kindly shared with me:

+10    Student frequently offers comments that really develop the conversation, often producing “Aha!” moments. The student’s comments reflect in-depth knowledge of the class material, bringing in supplementary research not assigned by the professor, and showing the student’s exceptional intellectual ability and effort.

+5   Student frequently offers comments that are intelligent and useful and demonstrate thorough knowledge of course material, sometimes including supplementary information.

+0    Student routinely offers comments that show his/her knowledge of and thoughtful reflection on the course material. This student meets the class expectations but has not exceeded them.

-5   Student either comments less often than his/her peers or offers comments that do not reflect understanding of course materials. The student falls just short of class expectations.

-10   Student either comments rarely or offers comments that are factually inaccurate and distracting, suggesting they are not reading carefully. The student is not meeting class expectations.

-15   Student never comments or offers comments that are off-topic and disruptive. Not only is this student failing to meet class expectations, but s/he is preventing others from learning.


(3) Discussion Pods

  • Finally, I will ask you to get together in groups of 2-3 and take collective responsibility for conducting part of a class discussion about a certain portion of text (or film). You should come prepared to steer our attention in the directions you find most fruitful and rewarding. You should get together once or twice prior to the day you are "on" and have done some research and discussion on the text of your choice. For this occasion, you must also prepare a handout (one sheet, front & back) that includes useful insights/quotes, sources, websites, question prompts, observations, images, and additional information relevant to our text/author. I will bring a sign-up sheet for these presentations to class and then post it on Canvas so you know precisely when it's your turn.

(4) Signature Ass. and the BIG QUESTION: Concluding Essay or Final Digital Project (FDP)

  • You have the option of crystallizing what you have learned in our class in one of two basic forms:
    (a) Toward the end of the semester, I will invite you to write a more formal paper (of about 1,000-1,500 words) that should allow you to demonstrate on a larger scale the interpretive skills you have developed in the class. This paper must be typewritten, double-spaced and, naturally, written in good English. Here are some lower-division/general education Student Sample Essays.

    (b) As writing continues to manifest itself in new digital formats, you might consider "translating" your learning into a substantive digital project using Adobe Spark, Top Hat, and Rush, among others. If you choose this option, important is that your content maintain the same high standard of thought one would expect in a paper while delivering that content through a different medium that incorporates sound (narration or music) and visuals (film clips, pictures, footage of you talking, etc.). Here are some recent FDP samples: FDPI, FDP II, FDP III. Message, in either form: let's talk! And while I am the immediate audience for your final essay or digital project, please consider writing or developing them with a view toward presentation at NULC, Weber State's National Undergraduate Literature Conference, I would be happy to work with you on either of these assignments to get them ready for submission.

    Did you know: WSU has made licenses for Adobe Creative Cloud available for students for the next 5 years. Current students of the university are eligible to request a license through a form accessible through your eWeber portal. A Student with an active Adobe Creative Cloud license will be able to sign in at with their email address. From there they will be able to use any of the Adobe Creative Cloud Applications and a select number of their services. Users are also granted 100GB of cloud storage to synchronize their Adobe projects. Users can download the software onto any number of devices but will only be able to have 2 devices licenses at any given time.


(5) Final Exam

  • This final take-home and/or in-class exam will allow you to demonstrate (in a sweeping way:) what you have learned this semester.
  • Your total evaluation will be made up as follows:
Notebook 30%
Class participation 20%
Discussion pod 15%
Final Exam 20%
Signature Assignent/Concluding Essay or Final Digital Project

Please note that you will have to fulfill each of these requirements to pass this class and do well in it.

It is your responsibility to become familiar with the standards of academic integrity at WSU. Passing off someone else's work or ideas as your own is grounds for failure.


Workload Expectations

  • As specified in PPM 4.1, you should expect to do 2(+) hours of work outside of class for each regularly scheduled hour of class. The words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of America's favorite philosophers, capture (part of) my teaching philosophy well: "No pain, no gain."  Thanks, Arnie!

Evaluation Criteria for your Big Question/Signature Assignment 

  • You will find a set of general evaluation guidelines for your final essay below, which are pretty straightforward, spanning the golden arc from an A to an E. For the new type of Final Digital Assignment (FDA) some of you might choose, please be aware that those criteria are a little more fluid and in the making, depending as they do on generally maintaining the same high standard of thought of written work, while delivering your content in a medium that incorporates slides and sounds, visuals and perhaps charts.

  • A – An essay in this category:
    • is well developed and well organized
    • clearly illustrates and develops key ideas
    • displays a high degree of inventiveness & originality
    • displays a sophisticated and superior use of language
    • demonstrates syntactic variety
    • is virtually free from errors in mechanics, usage, sentence structure, and diction
  • B – An essay in this category:
    • is well organized and developed, though it may have small flaws in organization
    • illustrates and develops some key ideas
    • displays good control of language and a consistent tone
    • demonstrates some syntactic variety
    • is generally free from errors in mechanics, usage, sentence structure, and diction
  • C – An essay in this category:
    • is adequately well developed and organized
    • illustrates and develops one or two key ideas
    • displays capable and accurate use of language
    • may display occasional errors in mechanics, usage, sentence structure, and diction, but not a consistent pattern of such errors


  • Laptops and notebooks are part of classroom resources, but I expect you to use them judiciously. That means you are focused on class learning, not checking email, surfing, gaming, etc. during class. I reserve the right to ask a student to switch off a laptop/notebook if I feel it is not used appropriately. I do not allow the use of cell phones or handheld devices in class and, in the event of non-compliance, will ask you to leave class for the remaining period. Please understand as well that I will ask repeat offenders to drop the class, get whatever remaining money back from the registrar's office, and re-enroll in the course another time. It's simple: silence or turn off your phone during the class hour and put it in your school bag. Thank you.


  • Plagiarism is a violation of the WSU Student Code. To plagiarize means to pass off someone else’s work as your own or to improperly or insufficiently document your sources. If you plagiarize, you will receive an E for the assignment. If it happens again, you will fail the class, and I will notify university authorities about disciplinary action.
  • WSU subscribes to, an electronic service that verifies the originality of student work. Enrollment in this course may require you to submit some or all of your assignments to, and documents submitted to are retained, anonymously, in their databases. Enrollment in this course constitutes an understanding of an agreement with this policy.

Disability Accommodation

  • PPM 3-34 notes: “When students seek accommodation in a regularly scheduled course, they have the responsibility to make such requests at the Center for Students with Disabilities (SSD, #181 of Student Services Center) before the beginning of the semester in which the accommodation is being requested. When a student fails to make such arrangements, interim accommodations can be made by the instructor, pending the determination of the request for a permanent accommodation." Such accommodations include reading services, provisions in case of mobility impairment, sign language and interpretive assistance, and closed captions for the hearing impaired, among others.

Emergency Closure

  • In the unlikely event of an extended campus closure, we will conduct our course electronically via email and virtual discussion groups. In this case, please make sure that you check your email account regularly for messages and attachments (in Word, PowerPoint, or audio) coming from me and/or your fellow seminar participants. Such messages may function as lecture substitutes, provide directions for reading and writing assignments, and contain other relevant information. Also make sure that your account has adequate storage capacity for transmitting documents. Please let me know by the end of the first week of the semester if you do not have access to a computer and/or the Internet from your home. Thanks.

Core Beliefs

  • According to PPM 6-22 IV, students are to “determine, before the last day to drop courses without penalty, when course requirements conflict with a student's core beliefs. If there is such a conflict, the student should consider dropping the class. A student who finds this solution impracticable may request a resolution from the instructor. This policy does not oblige the instructor to grant the request, except in those cases when a denial would be arbitrary and capricious or illegal. This request must be made to the instructor in writing and the student must deliver a copy of the request to the office of the department head. The student's request must articulate the burden the requirement would place on the student's beliefs."


  • If you prefer an alternate name or gender pronoun, please advise me of your preference and I will happily honor your request.

Recycling Policy

  • Weber State University is dedicated to being a leader in sustainability to ensure present needs are met without compromising the ability for future generations to inherit a healthy planet, society, and economy. Part of this commitment includes sustainable waste management practices with the ultimate goal of becoming a zero-waste campus. In order to achieve this goal, it is up to the WSU community to be informed about the various recycling policies on campus.
  • Please recycle following items on campus: plastics #1 & #2 (rinsed), cardboard, non-glossy paper, & metal cans.
  • *Please look at plastic identification symbol on the bottom of plastic bottles & jugs before recycling.
  • For more information on recycling at WSU, please reference Energy & Sustainability Office website

The Golden Rules


  • Assignments must be typewritten and are due on the date specified—no exceptions.
  • No electronic submissions.
  • For reasons of class integrity, and out of consideration of others, do not come late or leave early. For the same reason, I will not be able to accept late work.
  • Bottom line (repeat): Be there in body and mind!
  • Here is a Netiquette Refresher, if you need to contact me or any of your other instructors via email.

Let's Connect!

mwutz@weber.eduPhone  801-626-7011
Skype  michaelwutz007

LebenslaufCurriculum Vitae
Weber – The Contemporary West
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Mailing Address


Michael Wutz, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor
Editor, Weber - The Contemporary West
Department of English, 1404 University Circle
Weber State University
Ogden, UT 84404-1404 USA