Course Syllabus

English 237/8/9
Section 1095, 1096, 1097 OAS
Summer 2018

Instructor: Mr. Isaiah Hemmen
Office Hours: by appointment

Consider printing a copy of this Syllabus and keeping it handy, so you can easily refer to it. Take the time to read it and reread it; it's a lot to digest. Think of it as our contract for the course. If you have questions about it, let me know. After you have finished reading the Syllabus, click on the "Modules" tab at left, go to the first module--titled "Getting Started"--and read through it as well, culminating in the "Syllabus Quiz." After completing the quiz, click on the "Next" button on the bottom right-hand side of the screen. This will lead you sequentially through the curriculum. As our studies are cumulative, it is important not to skip ahead.

This class is taught entirely online. Consequently, you are not required to attend classroom sessions. However, this is not a correspondence course to be completed on your own timetable in isolation. This is an interactive, workshop based course, so active participation is required. That is, to pass this course, you must log-in to our course site regularly and complete the assigned work, including contributing to online discussions and activities, posting and critiquing comments and drafts, and submitting your finalized assignments in a timely fashion.

If you signed up for this course thinking that it will have less work than a traditional "on-ground" course, you are mistaken. Most any online course requires more work because all communication must be written. Expect to spend at least 15 hours per week to complete assignments for this course.

If you are new to Canvas and/or online learning, visit the following links to familiarize yourself. In particular, be sure take the BC Canvas Student Orientation.

-The BC Canvas Student Orientation is available at:
-The Canvas Student Guide is available at:

-If you run into problems with Canvas, please contact the Help Desk at extension 4357 or visit them at: (Links to an external site.)

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to use and troubleshoot Canvas successfully. So...

  1. Know your system requirements and software capabilities. In my experience, Canvas is best supported by the Chrome and Firefox browsers. One may have trouble saving and uploading work to Canvas when using Safari and Internet Explorer. So, consider downloading Chrome or Firefox to make life easier.
  2. Log on to Canvas regularly to participate in activities/discussions, prepare for readings/writings, review course lectures/content, check announcements, etc.
  3. Back up your work. You are responsible for keeping it safe. Work lost due to equipment failure, accidental erasure, or other unforeseen circumstances, is no excuse.
  4. Make contingency plans for computer use if your computer and/or internet service is unavailable. For instance, consider using the computer labs on the BC campus or the public library nearest you.
  5. Ask for help in a timely manner so that you will be able to successfully participate in the course. I may not be able to fix the issue, but I need to know if you are having problems.

There is only one book for the course; however, this will be supplemented by links and PDF's to extraordinary essays, stories, interviews, videos, and audio files. Buy the book immediately if you haven't already.

Don't wait! If it isn't available at the BC Bookstore in the B Building (B-127), it should be available at most commercial bookstores, such as Powells or Alibris

  • Making Shapely Fiction, by Jerome Stern
    ISBN: 9780393321241

  • Adobe Acrobat PDF reader, available for free download at 

Note: For your convenience, here are the first 5 "shapes" that we'll be studying. I've also attached them to the "Getting Started" module under "About the Texts." However, be sure you acquire the book by the beginning of week 2 (July 9th) at the latest. 

Writing Fiction focuses on the craft of the short story, covering plot, scene, character, dialogue, voice, and tone. Students write and critique short fiction and read the work of established short story writers. Suitable for beginning or advanced writers. 

After completing this course, students will be able to…

  • Recognize the conventions and techniques of literary fiction in the short stories of established writers
  • Distinguish between plot and story
  • Show, rather than tell, by using specific details, naming nouns and strong, active verbs
  • Develop scenes
  • Create believable characters through description, action, scene, and dialogue
  • Establish and sustain a point of view
  • Create and sustain tension
  • Control sentence structure, length and word choice to create a particular tone and mood
  • Critique, revise, and edit works in progress

Below are the kinds of assignments and approximate points totals for the quarter.



Short Stories (2 x 60 pts)
     -First drafts (10 points)
     -Peer critiques (12 pts)
     -Final drafts (30 pts)
     -Process notes (8 pts)


Literary Analyses/ Discussions (7 x 15 pts)


Writing Exercises (6 x 10 pts)


Personal Field Trip to a Fiction Reading 


Reflection & Self-Assessment 


Syllabus Quiz 




Note: I reserve the right to add, subtract, and/or alter assignments as needed, depending on how class progresses.

All assignments and course materials are contained in the Modules tab, at left. This is where you will find the course shell. I will be continually updating the site with new content, so don't be dismayed to see that the current shell is, well, just that--a shell. Some students might prefer to work ahead, but getting too far ahead will detract from our collaborative environment. So, I will typically release all assignments one week ahead of time; however, additional content--such as lectures--may be released the day of, so it's important to log into the site daily to check the Announcements tab as well as to see what's new in that week's module. 

Short Stories: You will be assigned to write 2 short fiction projects (which you need to complete to pass the class) of 2 drafts each. Shoot for 3-5 pages in your final draft. Think of each draft as a totally separate--but related--assignment that should reflect a significant effort to incorporate recent lessons, as well as to address my feedback and that of your peers. Remember, revision doesn't simply involve grammatical correction; that is merely one step in the revision process. So, challenge yourselves to really re-envision and further develop your work (in terms of content), not treat first drafts as virtual final products. 

For each first draft, you will participate in peer review, whereby you will read 3 peer essays and offer constructive feedback (I will award extra credit for completion of additional peer reviews). For each final draft, you will provide "process notes," explaining the process you went through while writing and why you made the changes you did.

    1. First Draft: 10 points for submission of your first draft. Keep in mind that you cannot participate in peer review unless you submit your first draft by deadline.
    2. Peer Review: 12 points (4 points x 3 peer reviews)
    3. Final Draft: 30 points
    4. Process Notes: 8 points

Literary Analyses/ Discussions: Each week, you will be asked to read, analyze, and discuss different texts and materials. These weekly analyses and discussions (7 in total) will account for the majority of your interaction with your peers and participation in the class. That means you will be posting your work so that it can be read and discussed by others. We may compose in solitude, but we can benefit from the support of a community and the confluence of that's community's different sensibilities in the form of reflection, insight, constructive dialogue, and improved understanding. Therefore, our Discussions board is the lynchpin of the course. Think of it as our living room, where we gather to share our writing. What you bring to this room as attentive readers and writers will be the basis for what we accomplish this quarter, so your success - and really the success of the class - hinges on your substantive and productive engagement there. 

General guidelines for Discussion: 

  • Have all assigned reading completed before discussion and be ready to discuss it.
  • Write out your responses first in your notebook or on your computer.
  • Read all of the discussion posts.
  • Then comment on at least 1 message thread from a peer.
  • Don't wait until the last minute to comment.
  • Be considerate. If you see a thread that has received very little attention, add a comment to it. Naturally, people feel bad when others ignore their posts.
  • Return to the discussion later to see how people have responded and to make more comments if you like.
  • Make sure your tone is friendly and collaborative and your remarks are thoughtful, relevant, and specific. Remarks like 'good work' or 'I liked your response' or 'yeah, I agree' will not earn full credit. In other words, your remarks should be substantial. They should offer feedback and ask questions that will encourage continued conversation, not resort to mere agreement and/or flattery.
  • Write all communications with care and proofread your work before you post it. Discussion posts cannot easily be amended. 

Writing Exercises: Each week, you will also be assigned a creative writing exercise designed to cultivate your development as a writer of fiction, be it through a sophistication of your syntax, sentence focus, clarity, word choice, pacing, tone, metaphorical aptitude, or improved familiarity with plot, scene, dialogue, and characterization, among other things.

Personal Field Trip to a Fiction Reading: By the end of the quarter, attend a fiction reading somewhere in your area and write a review in response. This is not only an opportunity to get away from the computer for a change, but to really get out in the field and experience fiction in a live format as writers conquer their stage fright and share their craft out loud.

Reflection & Self-Assessment: During Final's Week, you will turn in a reflection--i.e. a final self-evaluation--in which you will reflect on your progress as a reader, critical thinker, fiction writer, and student of the English language.

For specific grading criteria, refer to the grading rubric embedded in each assignment. However, in general, when evaluating your work this quarter, I will be looking for the following...

  • Does the work submitted fulfill the assignment? Does it reflect a close and comprehensive reading of the prompt and assigned texts? Is there evidence that you the student has committed sufficient time and attention to the writing, including revision and editing? As we progress through the quarter, does the student thoughtfully apply what has been covered?

Final course grades at Bellevue College are posted as letter grades. For ease of calculation, grades are based on a percentage system throughout the quarter.

































A's are not awarded for effort. Although effort is necessary to earn an A, it does not always result in one. A's are also not awarded for above-average work; B's are. What follows are accurate grade descriptions...

◦       A = Exceptional Achievement. The student demonstrates a mastery of the learning outcomes for the course; the quality of their work consistently exceeds the requirements and shows originality of thought.

◦       B = High Achievement. The student demonstrates a high - i.e. above average - level of competence in learning outcomes for the course; their work consistently meets the requirements and shows initiative and a grasp of the subject. 

◦       = Satisfactory Achievement. The student demonstrates a satisfactory - i.e. average - level of competence in learning outcomes for the course; their work consistently satisfies the minimum requirements.

◦       D = Poor Achievement. The student demonstrates minimum competence in some learning outcomes for the course; their work is inconsistent and leaves much to be desired.

◦       F = Unsatisfactory Achievement. The student cannot demonstrate competence in many of the fundamental outcomes for the course; their work is too often missing or incomplete, as are they in terms of attendance and participation.

Grades will not be rounded up. For instance, as the above chart indicates, 89% is a B+, not an A-. Canvas calculates grades to the decimal point, but 89.5% is still a B+. You must reach at least 90% for an A-.

The link to the College Grading Policy is located on page 10 of the Course Catalog and also on the web at: (Links to an external site.)


  • All work is due by midnight on the date assigned (or, for the night-owls among you, 3am at the latest).
  • No late assignments will be accepted, other than short stories. Late short story assignments will be graded down 10% per day until 50% is reached. All short stories will receive at least 50% of the original grade. 
  • All other late assignments will not be given credit. 

It is your responsibility to ensure that I receive your assignment on time. “My computer is broken” or “I don’t have the Internet at home” and similar excuses are NOT valid reasons for failure to complete work. If you’re having technology problems, plan ahead: internet access is available on campus and at public libraries. If you're having trouble understanding the assignment, talk to me, but do so before the assignment is due. 

If you have accommodations through the Disability Resource Center for "Flexibility" or "Flexibility in Deadlines," keep in mind that such accommodations DO NOT excuse you from completing class assignments nor enable you to turn in work willy-nilly, let alone a landslide of it at the very end of the quarter. They provide flexibility within reason, meaning deadlines can be extended a few days--not a few months--and only after you, the student, have specified--before a given deadline--that you need an extension, and I have explicitly granted it. 

I expect you to present your work in a neat, professional manner. Work that is sloppy will result in a reduced grade. Even though you will be asked to write informally on a variety of topics, and even though you will often be posting comments into a dialogue box on the Discussions board, you still need to edit for spelling and grammar. Otherwise...

  • For short stories:
    • Submit as a Microsoft Word doc. attachment (no "Pages" please).
    • Create a heading in the top left corner of the first page (single-spaced - one item per line) that includes, from top-down, your name, the class (Engl 237/8/9), the date, the assignment title and chosen "shape," the word count
    • Double space
    • Indent paragraphs (don't include an extra space between them)
    • Center and capitalize title (no italics or underline) at the top of the first page
    • Use 12-pt. font; 1-inch margins; and Times New Roman, Calibri, or Cambria typeface 
  • For literary analyses/ discussions, as well as writing exercises:
    • No heading necessary
    • Single space 

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is the act of using another writer’s words or ideas as your own. It may take many forms, including but not limited to using a paper written by someone else, using printed sources word-for-word without proper documentation, or paraphrasing or summarizing the ideas of others without acknowledging the source. In each case, it amounts to intellectual theft—whether or not it was your intention to steal. Therefore, if you copy someone’s words, you must put them in quotation marks and reference the source. Otherwise, you risk plagiarism, which is grounds for failing the course, further disciplinary action from the Dean of Student Success, and possible dismissal from school.

When you upload an assignment to Canvas, be aware that it will simultaneously be submitted to in order to check for improper quotation, citation, and/or plagiarism errors. 

Information about Bellevue College's copyright guidelines can be found at: (Links to an external site.)


Essential to a liberal arts education is an open-minded tolerance for ideas and modes of expression that might conflict with one’s personal values. By being exposed to such ideas or expressions, students are not expected to endorse or adopt them but rather to understand that they are part of the free flow of information upon which higher education depends.

To this end, you may find that class requirements may include engaging certain materials, such as books, films, and art work, which may, in whole or in part, offend you. These materials are equivalent to required texts and are essential to the course content. If you decline to engage the required material by not reading, viewing, or performing material you consider offensive, you will still be required to meet class requirements in order to earn credit. This may require responding to the content of the material, and you may not be able to fully participate in required class discussions, exams, or assignments.


  • A sincere effort to help you learn the course material. Since my ultimate goal is to help you succeed, I intend to spend enough time and effort on class preparation to make the material as understandable and as interesting as possible. 
  • Accessibility. I encourage you to talk to me any time you have a question or concern about anything. I am more than happy to help. 
  • Learning. You can expect me to learn along with you. While I know the subject and it is my job and goal to teach you the subject matter, you bring your own perspective and experience to the class that contributes to learning for all of us, including me.
  • Inclusion & Safety. I will do my utmost to make this a safe place for all students to learn and grow. Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Communist, male, female, transgendered, gay, straight, bisexual, white, black, yellow, brown, multi-racial, single, married, divorced, able, disabled, citizen of whatever country, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, and all other statuses are not only welcome but encouraged to speak out and be an integral part of this class. Bellevue College is committed to maintaining an environment in which every member of the campus community feels welcome to participate in the life of the college, free from harassment and discrimination. We value our different backgrounds at BC, and students, faculty, staff members, and administrators are to treat one another with dignity and respect.


  • Currency. It is your responsibility to keep current in class. This not only means getting your work in on time but staying on top of non-deadline-related material, such as weekly readings and lectures, by taking notes.
  • Respect. During a discussion, it is all-important that we respect each other’s right to participate. Therefore, I ask that you be courteous and constructive in your comments and respect the rights of others to hold opinions different from your own. Disagreement is fine, healthy, and makes discussion more interesting, but be sure that when you disagree you are disagreeing with the ideas and not the other person. I will not tolerate disruptive behavior, especially disrespect, be it directed at me or your classmates. Any remarks that belittle the worth of an individual’s (or group’s) physical attributes, race, creed, sexual preference, religion, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, cultural practices, or traditions are inappropriate. Serious violations will not only result in a loss of credit but will be reported to the Dean of Student Services. 
  • Honesty. If you cheat, you fail. No excuses will be taken into account. Your work must be your own, except when you are asked to work with other students. Furthermore, you are required to acknowledge in your papers if you have borrowed any ideas, terms, or phrases, even if you have borrowed from a classmate. Working together is fine and even encouraged. Just be sure to turn in work that is clearly original. Be careful to cite your sources properly as plagiarism can result in a score of zero for the assignment, or even an F for the class, depending on the circumstances.
  • Communication. If you don’t understand a concept or the expectations of an assignment, please ask. If an issue arises that will impact your class work, let me know immediately, so that we can work out a solution together. After assignments have already been missed is likely too late. If you need course adaptations or special accommodations because of a diagnosed, disability, please contact the Disability Resource Center in the LMC. Phone: 425-564-2498 (Voice) TTY: 425-564-4110. 
  • Note: It would also benefit you to read the Arts and Humanities “Student Procedures and Expectations” page.


  • Disability Resource Center (DRC)
    The Disability Resource Center serves students with a wide array of learning challenges and disabilities. If you are a student who has a disability or learning challenge for which you have documentation or have seen someone for treatment and if you feel you may need accommodations in order to be successful in college, please contact the DRC as soon as possible. 

    If you are a student with a documented autism spectrum disorder, there is a program of support available to you.
If you are a person who requires assistance in case of an emergency situation, such as a fire, earthquake, etc., please meet with your individual instructors to develop a safety plan within the first week of the quarter.

    The DRC office is located in B132 or you can call our reception desk at 425.564.2498. Deaf students can reach us by video phone at 425-440-2025 or by TTY at 425-564-4110. Please visit our website for application information into our program and other helpful links at (Links to an external site.)
  • The Writing Lab
    The Writing Lab is a place where you can work on developing college-level writing skills. As a student, you can receive personalized feedback on your writing for class, college applications, or short personal correspondence. Tutors can listen to your ideas and help you develop strategies to see and avoid significant errors. You can drop in any time the Writing Lab is open as well as make an appointment.  

               Summer Hours:     Monday and Thursday: 8:00am - 4:00pm
                                             Tuesday and Wednesday: 8:00am - 7:00pm

    The Writing Lab is located in D204-d. I recommend visiting the lab at least two days before a paper is due. A tutoring session is a 35-minute, face-to-face conversation to discuss your writing. The tutor will not fix your paper but will work with you to identify areas to revise independently. For more information, visit their website at (Links to an external site.)
  • Public Safety
    Public Safety is located in the K building and can be reached at 425-564-2400 (easy to remember because it’s the only office on campus open 24 hours a day—2400).  Among other things, Public Safety serves as our Parking Permits, Lost and Found, and Emergency Notification center. Don't hesitate to call Public Safety if you have safety questions or concerns at any time. Also, please ensure you are signed up to receive alerts through their campus alerting system by registering at
      (Links to an external site.)

  • Student Support Services
    See the following link for a comprehensive list of dozens of other valuable support services on campus: (Links to an external site.) The staff, faculty, and students involved with these services can help you with tutoring, study space, counseling, advising, book loans, financial assistance, advocacy for classroom issues, and personal issues to help you succeed in your classes and achieve your academic goals. Especially if you’re transferring, these services - which are free! – are a good way to be culturally and extracurricularly involved. Take that step and visit these departments/offices on campus:
    • TRIO, MCS, Veterans Admin Programs, Women’s Center, Counseling, Advising, and Financial Aid are located in the B building.
    • Reading Lab and Academic Tutoring can be found in D204
    • Open computers and printers are in N250 and C bldg. The library also has computer use.

The Bellevue College Academic Calendar is separated into two calendars. They provide information about holidays, closures and important enrollment dates such as the finals schedule.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due