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Syllabus (PDF)
Writing Requirements

One short summary (1-2 double-spaced typed pages), three interpretive essays (4-7 pages) due on the dates specified in the calendar. Students may revise and resubmit the first two essays for a new grade within one week of the date on which essays are returned. Late papers will be graded without penalty if they are submitted within seven days of the due date, but such papers will be ineligible for revision and may not receive written commentary. No papers will be accepted beyond the seven-day grace period.


Two in-class exams, consisting of one essay question and short-answer identifications.


Plagiarism -- use of another's intellectual work without acknowledgment -- is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgment for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else's work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student's own work.

If you borrow another person's phrasing, that material must be enclosed in quotation marks. If you use ideas conceived by others but reformulate them in your own prose, then you must acknowledge your collaboration in one of two ways: explicit acknowledgment in the body of your text (As Lionel Trilling argues in his introduction to Pride and Prejudice, . . .) or in a footnote fully citing your source.

For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution consult the style guides available on the MIT Website on plagiarism.

Citations, Footnotes

There are many accepted formats for citations and footnotes. I prefer the following simple principles.

Italicize (or underline) titles of books or feature films; use quotation marks to indicate titles of stories or articles. Novellas or long stories that have been published in individual bindings are italicized as if they were full-length books. So: Conrad's short story "Youth" is placed in quotation marks, but Heart of Darkness (a novella) and Lord Jim (a novel) are italicized.

Use parenthetic citations instead of footnotes wherever possible. For instance, in citing quoted passages from the primary text under discussion, the first reference should include full title, place and date of publication, and a page citation; thereafter, only the page citation is necessary. Eg: (Heart of Darkness, London, 1898, p. 6). In the next citation: (p. 8). Note that the period concluding the sentence goes outside the parenthesis citing the page number(s).

An alternative to this practice: the first reference to the text can be footnoted, which note can include the remark "Subsequent parenthetic references are to this edition."

If you cite secondary works in footnotes, use the following format: David Thorburn, Conrad's Romanticism (New Haven, 1974), p. 17. Note that publisher is not required.

Most importantly, do not repeat information unnecessarily. For example, if your text reads "As David Thorburn suggests, . . ." then the footnote should not repeat the author's name; if you also mention the book title in your text, then the footnote should include only the place and date of publication and the page number.

Formatting Quotations

When quoting material, integrate the quoted passage into the body of your own text using quotation marks if the passage is not longer than four lines. If the passage is longer than four lines, indent an extra five spaces left and right, forgo the quotation marks, and use single spacing.

Use an ellipsis (three spaced dots) to indicate omitted material. If the omission begins after a complete sentence, retain the original period and then introduce the ellipsis.

Use square brackets [ ] to indicate your additions or changes in the original material.

Examples follow.

Quoted passage integrated into your text:

The Shadow-Line repeatedly dramatizes scenes of tense conversation and figures. As David Thorburn writes, "Though all his people are orphans, Conrad remains one of the great portrayers of the anguished impotence of fatherhood. One of his defining subjects is maturity's useless generosity toward the young."1

Extended quotation, separated by indentation from your text:
George Eliot's power to create and sustain an intimate communion with her readers, her sad stringent awareness of how society shapes and constrains us, her respect for the ordinary heroism of daily life, her moral wisdom and generosity -- all this is crystallized in the final paragraphs of her greatest novel:

Certainly those determining acts of . . . [Dorothea's] life were not ideally beautiful. They were the mixed result of young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it . . . .

Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature . . . spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

1. Conrad's Romanticism. New Haven, 1974, pp. 45.
2. Middlemarch, ed. Gordon Haight. Boston, 1956, pp. 612-13. First published 1871-72.