English 202:  Chicano/a Literature

Dr. Lysa Rivera
Office: HUM 373
Office Hours: Fridays 1-4

Welcome to English 202, a course that will introduce you to various modes of academic writing specific to the discipline of literary study.  Working with short stories and novels written by and about Mexican Americans, you will strengthen your close-reading skills, relying on academic writing to express your ideas and articulate, sustain and defend arguments rooted in strong textual evidence and analysis.  You will practice a process-oriented approach to writing by producing full-length essays in stages.  Assignments include in-class discussion exercises, reading journals, and analytical essays that undergo draft and peer review processes. 

Required Reading Material:

Reading & Reflection Journal:  To meet the arranged “fifth hour” requirement for this course, students will maintain a reading and reflection journal.  Your journal is a place for you to develop ideas, ask questions, try various forms of inquiry, and gather materials to consider and use in your formal essays. Use your informal writing to detangle the meaning of readings, to observe and analyze the many “texts” around you and to develop your thoughts through your reading and in-class discussions.  Each week I will post journal prompts and miscellaneous announcements on our course blog, so it is important that you familiarize yourself with it (and bookmark it) as soon as possible.  Journal entries are always due by Wednesday evening of each week (well before Thursday’s class).

You will maintain your journal online in the form of a personal blog, where you can post your required reading responses, upload videos and images, and provide links to other websites you find relevant to the course material and/or your learning experience.  You can create your blog easily (and for free) by following the steps provided at  You will be able to password protect your blog so that it remains accessible only to your 202 peers and me. 

Attendance and Participation: You are expected to contribute to this learning environment. Speaking and actively listening are necessary acts of contributing. Because this is an interactive course, your participation is essential. If you are absent more than 3 times (for any reason, including illness) your final course grade will drop significantly. After 5 absences you must withdraw, as your grade will become an F. Additionally, missed appointments and consistent late arrivals or early departures will be counted as absences. It is your responsibility to take note of your tardiness and absences, and to check with me to confirm what I’ve recorded in my grade book.  Also, participation includes preparation.   Please do not come to class if you have not completed the reading. Expect reading quizzes.

The Writing Center:  I expect students to work with tutors at the Writing Center at least twice this quarter as part of their participation grade.  To satisfy this participation requirement you will need to have a writing tutor sign off on at least two of your papers.  The Writing Center is a fabulous resource that I encourage you to use as you pursue your studies at Western.  It is located in the Learning Commons area in Wilson Library (near Zoe’s Bagels). Call 650-3219 or visit them online here

Short & Long Essays:  Students will produce a total of four complete essays this quater, including three short essays and a longer final essay.  Each writing assignment will include a detailed prompt and grading rubric, so students know exactly what I expect to see in these essays.  Although each prompt will vary in focus and scope, all will require that essays demonstrate a strong grasp of the reading material, literary analysis and critical thinking.  Because I adhere to a process-approach to writing, I will ask that students produce rough drafts, peer reviews and revisions of each essay.   

Evaluation and Final Course Grades: You will be required to complete the following assignments on time and in their entirety on the day noted (refer to the assignment schedule). I will calculate your final grade according to the following percentage rubric:
  • Reading & Reflection Journal: 20%
  • Participation: 10%
  • Short Essays: 30%
  • Final Essay: 40%                                    
Plagiarism:  When you knowingly submit someone else’s ideas or words as your own, you are committing an act of intentional deception that not only is dishonest, it robs you of the most important product of education—actual learning. You need to familiarize yourself with the university’s academic dishonesty policy, which states: “students shall not claim as their own achievements, work or thoughts of others, nor shall they be a party to such claims.” If you are found guilty of academic dishonesty by either plagiarizing someone’s work or allowing your own work to be misused by another you will automatically fail this course and have to take it again. A letter will be kept in your permanent file in the registrar’s office.  Sometimes students plagiarize out of ignorance of the conventions, carelessness, or laziness. Be advised, that in the real world, ignorance is no excuse. Come speak with me if you have questions or concerns about your use of resource materials in your writing assignments.

Course Policies:
  • Attendance: Students are expected to attend class regularly.  Please know that I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences: an absence, for whatever reason, counts as an absence.  Therefore, you do not need to go to the trouble of getting physicians’ notes.  Students are also expected to arrive promptly and stay for the duration of the class. 
  • Reading Material: Bring the day’s reading material to class.  Failure to do so will count as an absence.  This includes any shorter reading assignments I distribute in class or post to Blackboard (BB).
  • Late Assignments: I will accept most late assignments with the exception of those done directly in class; however, any assignment turned in late (regardless of why) will not receive full credit.  There are absolutely no exceptions to this policy.
  • Technology: I do not allow laptops in class, although I do make exceptions for students with documented disabilities.  The reason for this policy is that I believe laptops erect barriers between students and work against building a collaborative atmosphere conducive to group discussion. Similarly, texting or any other cell phone use in class is totally unacceptable. If I notice you doing this I will stop class and ask you to continue in the hallway.  It is both rude and distracting.
  • If you wish to contest your grade you must do so, in writing no later than two weeks after the quarter ends.  I will respond before the next quarter.