Course Policies

Patrick W. Conner

The following policies are standard in all of the courses I teach. They apply at all levels, graduate and undergraduate. Read them carefully, and speak to me immediately if you think that your particular situation merits special consideration. The following items are considered on this page, and you may click on these items in order to read the policy so named: Attendance; Responsibilities; Incompletes; Deception & Dissembling; Conferences; Instructor's Philosophy of Instruction.


This course will meet 15 times this session. You should realize that if you miss class more than once during the semester, I shall lower your final grade in whatever amount seems to me appropriate for the time missed. In other words, attendance is required for you to receive a high grade in the course, and if your performance on examinations and other projects is weak, lack of attendance may well cause you not to succeed in the course. Please understand: the permitted absence is intended to cover illness and other emergencies which make it impossible for you to meet a class. There are no "excused absenses" beyond this except in rare circumstances. To miss two times is to miss more than 10% of the class meetings. While merely attending without participating (by "participating" I mean being mentally involved in the discussion and classroom activities) is counter-productive, not attending deprives you of class insights and collective understanding about difficult concepts and it deprives the class of your point-of-view as well.  Athletes, debaters, and other students whose participation in WVU-sponsored events may affect their attendance differently should make an appointment to see me during the first two days of classes to discuss my policies regarding them.

Everyone is late now and then, but please try to be on time; class begins at 4:00 (or as near to that as I can make it) and ends at 6:45. 


Come prepared to sit for 75 minutes without thinking that it is all right to leave for a bit to go to the bathroom or to make a phone call. You should neither leave the classroom nor send text messages to your friends while you're here. This is unacceptable behavior, and I shall call it to your attention. We shall take a break around 5:15.

Complete the assigned reading and writing for each class before it meets, and ponder the implications of ideas freshly encountered and facts newly met. Search the texts and query the instructor about matters you do not comprehend before (not after) the examinations. Should you miss a class, obtain a full report of our activities from a trustworthy colleague, but please understand that neither a colleague's notes nor my attempt to summarize the work via email can adequately compensate for classroom activities. I am always available by e-mail, and you should contact me whenever you need to do so. Click HERE to do so.

We now live in the age of computing, and -- as you can see -- a web site on eCampus will be part of the apparatus of this course.  You are expected to make full and responsible use of the computing resources with which you are provided, and it is your responsibility to secure access to an adequate computer in order to use these resources.  It is assumed that you have learned the skills needed, but if you haven't, ask a colleague to help you learn them. The course evaluation will be provided online, and I will have no access to your responses until my grades for your are delivered.  It is important to the Department of English, to the University, and to me that you provide an honest, professional evaluation of the course. Give some thought to this forthcoming evaluation while the course is in progress. 


As a matter of policy, I do not give incompletes except under the most unusual circumstances. If a student becomes seriously ill or encounters personal problems such that he/she cannot attend most classes or do the work for them, then the appropriate course of action is to withdraw from the University; it is not the University's role to take responsibility for a student's misfortune by giving credit for work not done.

Deception & Dissembling

Refer to the section on "Academic Responsibilities" and "Academic Dishonesty" in the WVU Student Handbook for definitions of cheating and plagiarism. The student caught cheating, whether maliciously or naively, will receive an F in the course, and I may seek to have him or her removed from the University.


You may schedule a conference with me by calling my office (293-4547) or emailing me. Should we schedule a meeting and should you miss it, I will consider the miss equivalent to missing class and I shall record it as such, unless you contact my office in due time to cancel the meeting.

Instructor's Philosophy of Instruction

I assume that all of my students are responsible, adult human beings capable of dealing with sophisticated issues in a sophisticated manner. Language and literature cover all aspects of human lives and choices, and we have to be able to talk about social situations and linguistic conventions from many points of view. While I never consciously seek to impose my views on personal matters on my students, nevertheless I consider it a part of my duties as a university instructor to challenge your beliefs about anything that may come up in the classroom, and, particularly when discussing language matters, I may seem to ignore what you consider to be the conventions of "polite" speech to do so. If you feel offended by me or by your colleagues, or if you experience other negative emotions for whatever reason, please discuss the problem with me privately.

Having said that, I hasten to add that the classroom should be a comfortable place for all present to think about important issues in an adult manner, regardless of faith, lack of it, gender, ethnic identity, etc., and I want my classroom to be that kind of place.  Please speak to me privately if you feel this is not the case.