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Introduction to Literary Study


elements of lit

J.A. Cuddon, editor of the renowned Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, defines genre as “a kind, type, or class of literature,” recognizable through its distinctive attributes and features. One way readers can come to a deeper understanding about a work of literature is by seeing it as part of a larger genre, and by assessing how it adheres to—or departs from—those defining characteristics. All genres have discrete elements, which enable readers to subject a work to a close reading and analysis, and to unpack its various layers of meaning. Many genres have sub-genres or even sub-sub-genres, which allow readers to explore a work with increasing levels of sensitivity, and to communicate those ideas to others in a coherent way. This course will introduce students to four main literary genres: short fiction, drama, literary non-fiction, and poetry. It will impart a vocabulary and taxonomy for analysing literature, and it will construct a framework that emphasizes effective writing, critical thinking, and close reading. By doing so, this course will provide students with a sense of the richness and variety of literature, and it will equip them with the reading and writing skills they need for further English studies.


ASO reserves the right to make changes to the required material list as received by the instructor before the course starts. Please refer to the Campus Bookstore website at is external) to obtain the most up-to-date list of required materials for this course before purchasing them.

Required Books

  • Lisa Chalykoff, et al., eds. The Broadview Introduction to Literature (2nd edition, 4 volumes packaged together)
  • J.A. Cuddon, ed. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory
  • Paul Headrick, A Method for Writing Essays About Literature (3rd edition)


  • Essays (45%)
  • 4 Discussion Forums (20%)
  • 15 Quizzes (15%)
  • 1 2-hr Final Exam (20%)

**Evaluation Subject to Change**

Additional information

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153


Telephone (613) 533-6000 ext. 74446 extension 74446


Telephone (613) 533-6000 ext. 74447 extension 74447

Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.