Course Summary
  Course Objectives
  Course Materials
  Course Requirements
  Exams and Exam Passes

  Learning Strategies
  Learning Activities
  Sample Essay
  Course Notes
  Weekly Assignments


 English 253 Syllabus 

Getting Started

How to Contact Me:

I am here to help you succeed in this course. Although we will interact regularly on your assignments and exams, occasional questions or problems may arise. Here's how to contact me when they do.

  • BY EMAIL: rblunt@nvcc.edu
  • BY ELI TELEPHONE: (703) 323-3347

If you need to meet in person, please contact me for an appointment.

Your Email Account:

You have been assigned a VCCS email address for use in this and other courses that you take through NVCC or other colleges in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). The VCCS requires that you use this email account for any course-related email communication so that we can insure your privacy as required by law. If you don't know your VCCS email address, go to the Start Page and search for your address.

Discussion Forums:

In addition to email, you, I, and the other students in the course will communicate using discussion forums. Discussion forums allow you to post your ideas and comments and read and respond to the ideas and comments of others, without having to be connected to the course at the same time.

To access the discussion forums click the DISCUSSION FORUM link on the left.

Course Summary:

This course introduces you to works by African American writers from the Colonial period to the early twentieth century. The course will also present the historical, sociological, and political context of the literature created by African Americans during these time periods. You will critically read numerous literary works and write analyses which examine the dominant themes and features of the works. You will be using Internet resources to enhance your understanding of the writers and their works. You will also be participating in online discussions with other students enrolled in the course and with me to assist you in your reading and writing about the literature. 

Course Objectives:
After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  1. read literary genres critically and respond in writing 
  2. identify the major genres created by African American writers and the characteristics of those genres 
  3. identify the major themes of African American literature produced from the Colonial period to the early twentieth century 
  4. write clear, coherent, well-organized analyses of the literature 
  5. write a thesis statement which is supported in the analysis with details and textual evidence from the literary work 

Course Materials: Gates Jr., Henry Louis, and McKay, Nellie Y.  The Norton Anthology of African American Literature.  New York: Norton, 2nd edition.

You can buy the text book at the campus bookstores or order it by mail. Buying your books by mail takes time, so do it immediately. Before traveling to the bookstore, you may call ahead to confirm that your books are in stock.

Course Requirements

1 Introductory Letter
3 Essays
30 Discussion Forum Postings
3 Exams
5 Web Site Reports

Introductory Letter 25 25
30 Discussion Forum Postings 10 300
5 Web Site Reports 5 25
Essay 1 100 100
Essay 2 100 100
Essay 3 100 100
Exam 1 100 100
Exam 2 100 100
Exam 3 150 150
Total Points 1000

Final Grade will be based upon the number of points that you have earned.

A=900-1000 points
B=800-899 points
C=700-799 points
D=600-699 points
F=Below 600 points

Exams and Passes

If you are enrolled in the Fall semester of 2005 or later, you will be required to take three ONLINE proctored exams at any NVCC Testing Center. Take a photo ID and the Exam Pass to a Testing Center.

If you were enrolled in Summer 05 or the privous semesters, you will be required to take three PRINT proctored exams at any NVCC Testing Center.   Take Photo ID and Exam Pass to a Testing Lab.

E-mail your instructor to inform her that you have taken an exam. Your
instructor will grade your exam, and you will check your grade by clicking on the Student Tools button at Blackboard (the site where you accessed the exam). You will also receive feedback from the instructor through e-mail.
You may use the course textbook, notes, and a dictionary for the exams.

The procedures for ELI examinations are listed under ELI Policies and Procedures.

The following is a summary:

Prepare for exam
Call testing lab for its hours
Take Photo ID and Exam Pass to Testing Lab
Take Exam


If you are outside metropolitan Washington, incarcerated or handicapped, see the information on Examination Proctors and the Proctor Request form.

Please do not take exam #2 until you have received feedback on exam #1.

Please do not let the exams stop you from completing the course. If you have great difficulty getting to a testing lab or are very concerned about taking exams, please call your instructor instead of giving up!

  • Exam 1 will test your understanding of the literature read during the first quarter of the semester.
  • Exam 2 will test your understanding of literature read during the second quarter of the semester.
  • Final Exam will test your understanding of literature read during the entire

Exam 1 and Exam 2 are worth 100 points each and Final Exam is worth 150 points. All exams will require you to answer two essay questions using the same skills that you used to write your essays.