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A (Not So) Arbitrary Triumvirate



The requirements of this course are connected to the learning outcomes in which the WSU MENG Program is grounded. Below please find a list of the Program's Learning Outcomes (LO) and, in brackets, how they correlate to particular requirements.

  • LO 1: Demonstrate an ability to gather, analyze, and communicate information effectively.
  • LO 2: Demonstrate in texts cultivated skills in careful reading, critical thinking, logical argument from evidence presented, creative expression, and persuasive writing.
  • LO 3: Apply various theoretical perspectives and literary terminology to interpretations of literary texts to showcase an understanding of theoretical perspectives.
  • LO 4: Demonstrate knowledge of and interaction with foundational and current scholarly criticism.
  • LO 5: Acknowledge and articulate the significance of key primary texts in one specific literary genre, period, culture or style.
  • LO 6: Demonstrate an ability to employ academic conventions and protocols for written or multimodal presentations, including the application of appropriate conventions, citation formats and style manuals, such as the MLA style sheet for literary papers or the Chicago or APA formats for papers that range into historical or sociological areas of study.


  • I expect regular and punctual attendance, which will enable you to make sustained contributions to our discussions and make our seminar into a community of learners. If you miss more than 1 class (the equal of three 50-minute day class periods), please drop the course this semester and enroll at another time. There are no "excused absences." (LO 1, 2, 3, 6)

Weekly Response Papers

  • I will ask you -- over the course of the semester, at weeks of your own choosing -- to hand in 3 self-directed response papers (of about 500 words) to the assigned readings, to which you should add two (=2) typed, substantive discussion questions. You are free to pick whatever weeks fit your schedule best. I will collect these responses as a hard copy at the end of each class, so that you can use your WRP/questions during class discussion. Please note that you cannot "hand them in" electronically. Bottom line: WRPs are not essays, but a space of exploration and experimentation. Please take risks! (LO 1-6)

Talk and Class Facilitation

  • Since this seminar is meant to be a networked community of learners, you will—above and beyond regular class contributions—need to present your research and thinking (or work in progress) on a particular author or related project. Your talk, of about 20 minutes, should serve as a point of departure for further discussion, which you then facilitate, and must be accompanied by a typed handout that you distribute in the class period before your report. The handout should not exceed two pages (one sheet, front and back) and contain the following information:
    • title of presentation/name of presenter
    • text(s) you expect your fellow students to study
    • a summary of your major ideas
    • the sources/web sites you have consulted
      A sign-up sheet for these presentations is posted on my door. To enhance your learning (and, let's be honest, to kill two birds with one stone, different as these birds may be), I encourage you to consider building upon your oral report for your final research essay. Use the class as a testing ground for your ideas! Here is a Sample Handout (LO 1, 2, 3, 6)

Research 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) write a 8-10+ page scholarly essay that should engage some of the major critical statements relating to the writer(s)/themes of your choice. Of course, you may also write a longer paper if you wish. Here are some Student Sample Essays(LO 1-6)

    (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 or Top Hat. If you choose this option, important is that your content maintain the same high standards 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.). (LO 1-6) FDP Sample I, FDP Sample II [not linked as of yet]  Message, in either case: let's talk!

Your final grade will be made up as follows:

Regular and sustained participation 20%
Talk & Facilitation 20%
WRP 30%
Research Essay or FDP 30%

Please note that you will have to fulfill all of these requirements to pass the class.

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.

Evaluation Criteria for MENG Final Essays

  • 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 our everyday classroom learning tools, 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 turn off your phone during class, move it off the table, and place in a 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

Here is a Netiquette Refresher, if you need to contact me or any of your other instructors.


The Golden Rules

  • Assignments must be typewritten and are due on the date specified—no exceptions.
  • 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.
  • The captain has requested that you please disable your cell phones and other electronic devices that could interfere with our intellectual flight. Stow them away in the seat pocket in front of you for the duration of the class. 
  • Bottom line (repeat): Be there in body and mind!
  • Evening bonus (but no bonbons): This is an evening course, with many of you rushing from work or family to class. Please feel free to bring a snack or beverage to recharge your intellectual batteries and to ward off hypoglycemic fantasizing, but munch and imbibe with discretion.

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