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Reflection Assignment: Format, Requirements, and Grading Criteria


What is literature? What — or who — is it for? What does it do in the world? The intent of this assignment is to reflect on what you’ve learned about literature, texts, and reading — and about your own learning process. Because there is no single answer to these questions, your reflection can take a number of different forms (see below). We also hope that this exercise will be — dare we say it — fun, or at least personally fulfilling. Whatever form it takes, your reflection should demonstrate:
1) Critical (and perhaps creative) thinking about the question “what is literature?” — your reflection should be motivated by a sense of inquiry, not just a certainty about the answer.
2) A focused claim or idea motivating the work, not just a list or summary of ideas about “literature”.
3) Specific reference to at least three of our required course texts (see syllabus or Quercus for list).
4) At least some engagement with course concepts (e.g., lecture content and vocabulary).
5) Clear expression and execution — whatever form you choose, we want to see that there was some effort to plan, revise, and polish your work before submitting.

You have several options for the format that your reflection can take: 


Length / Requirements

Formal academic essay

1000-2000 words, MLA style

Letter to yourself (e.g., the “you” from this September)

750-1500 words

Letter to someone else

750-1500 words

Sonnet (or sonnet sequence)

Must include a 500-750 word explanation of how your sonnet engages with the topic, and why you chose the particular poetic structure/devices that you did (a bit like a close reading of your own writing!)


At least weekly entries (or more frequent), covering the length of the semester, ~1000-1500 words overall

Podcast episode

5-10 minutes in length, could be a solo podcast or interview format

Video presentation

5-10 minutes in length (could be anything from a movie to an animated slide show)


4-6 pages, digitally or hand-drawn or collaged

Dictionary entry (for the word “Literature”)

Format should match OED (including sample quotations, which you can either find or make up). Must also include a 500-750 word explanation of why you crafted this particular definition, and a Works Cited of at least 4 other (published) definitions.

• If you would like your reflection to take a format not listed here, you must contact Dr. Nikk to propose your idea and get guidance no later than November 26th.
• We want this assignment to be your own, and authentic to your own experience and ideas, so the parameters are very broad Ñ but you are welcome to discuss your thoughts or get clarification from Dr. Nikk at any stage of planning or creating.
• If you are at all concerned about attributing any sources that you used to construct your reflection, you can include a separate Works Cited when you submit your assignment.

• This reflection will be marked using the standard UofT marking bands, where the numerical values 0-100 correspond to letter grades (A = 80-100, B = 70-79, C = 60-69, etc.).
• As stated in the syllabus, after the 24 hour grace period, late assignments will be penalized (-5pt per day), and extensions cannot be granted on or after the due date Ñ and remember that only  Dr. Nikk can grant extensions, not TAs.
• Below is a general rubric for our grading of this assignment:

Excellent Stuff!
(A to B+)

Solid, Sensible Effort
(B to C)

Still Needs Some Work
(C- or less)

Critical Thinking /

Shows an inquisitive thought process which includes asking questions about meaning and language; looks at the topic in a unique, persuasive or creative way.

Does some of the above, but may show some lapses in logic or rely on a one-dimensional approach to the topic.

Leans heavily on a single, established definition of “literature” without offering any challenges or original thinking.

Focus &

The ideas presented adhere to a specific goal or claim; shows focused attention a particular element or angle of the

question “What is literature?”

Has a recognizable goal, but may spread itself too thin in places by trying to include too many or too disparate ideas.

Lacks a clear organizing

principle, tends merely to list different ideas about “literature” without offering a clear path through.


Makes recognizable, thoughtful references to at least three course texts; incorporates direct quotation or unmistakeable paraphrase (depending on form, need not be rigorous about MLA).

References to at least three course texts are recognizable, but may be slightly superficial; shows that you’ve read the course texts, but maybe not too closely.

Fails to include at least three course texts, or inclusions are cursory or notably superficial (i.e., name-checking, not actually incorporating).

Course Concepts

Successfully and unmistakably incorporates at least two instances of in-discipline

concepts (such as the vocabulary or theoretical lenses explored in lectures).

Shows some engagement with lecture material, but in a broad or generalized way (e.g., only ever mentions “perspective”, rather than specific narrative stance).

Offers only a very tenuous relation to the topics/questions addressed in lecture, or may misunderstand or misapply the concepts or terminology.

Expression &

Textual elements are well

written and free from typos; non-textual components (visuals, etc.) are presented with an eye toward clarity; is a pleasure to read.

Overall the project is readable and shows solid effort, but might have noticeable typos or be slightly sloppy around the edges; might not adhere to length or other requirements.

Shows significant problems with clarity; feels like a draft rather than a piece that has been revised and finalized; misses formatting requirements

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