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Please note: the Daily Assignments are posted in the Assignments section of this web site.


This survey course introduces students to the genre of science fiction and its unique ability to examine cultural issues by placing them outside reality.  The speculative nature of the genre allows writers to explore the future, alternate histories, and scientific, moral, and political controversies.  Starting with early historical works, the course surveys mainstream science fiction and major literary science fiction works.


Students may take this course after completing the composition requirement of their curriculum.


  • To develop the students' sensitivity to literature and language so that they read with insight and enjoyment.
  • To increase the students' self-awareness through a development of their critical abilities.
  • To develop the students' writing skills and information literacy through writing both traditional literary analyses and research papers. .
  • To improve students' reading skills.
  • To show how science fiction has influenced and been influenced by mainstream literature.


My courses are designed to deal with adult issues often centering on controversial cultural and historical conflicts. At times, the class readings, lectures, and discussions may question ideas or beliefs that individual students hold dear. In addition, the language used in the course may range from highly technical jargon to the vernacular, including profanity. Students who wish to avoid such a classroom environment should seek another section of the course.


  • Various Texts located in Blackboard in Course Materials
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood ISBN: 9780385490818
  • Watchmen by Allan Moore and Dave Gibbons ISBN-10: 093028923
  • 1984 by George Orwell (Plume; Centennial edition (May 6, 2003)) ISBN-10: 0452284236
  • The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams ISBN-10: 0345391802
  • Post-It Brand book marking tabs
  • Access to the MLA Style Guide with the 2009 Update

English 245 will be one of the most challenging courses of your academic career because it moves quickly, requires a wide range of academic skills, and demands more time than the average course. In addition to an intensive reading load (with reading checks to document your marginalia), each student will write two major papers (a literary interpretation and a research paper), prepare two exam guides, take a mid-term and final exam, develop an annotated bibliography, and use the discussion board extensively to post drafts and comments on readings. A breakdown of the assignments and relative point values is as follows:

Final drafts of papers

200 points each


100 points each

In-class essays

50 points each

Annotated bibliographies

40 points

Quotation assignments

20 points

Individual drafts of papers

0-20 points, depending on completeness

Two-minute Presentation

10 points

Required emails and posts

-5 points if not completed

Reading checks

5 points per day's worth of reading unless otherwise noted.

Your grade is calculated by adding the total points earned and then dividing them by the total points possible. That average will then be plugged into the college's grading scale.

Numerical Grade 

Corresponding letter grade

Percent Equivalent




























Be advised that you must complete all major papers and in-class essays in order to pass the course. Even if your paper is too late to be accepted under the late work policies, it must be completed by the end of the semester. If it is not, then you will automatically fail for the course, regardless of what your point total is.


In order to allow students to benefit from the three-step writing process and to turn in the best possible work for evaluation, students will be permitted to revise the first graded major paper in the course for an entirely new grade provided the assignment/essay was handed in on time and without plagiarism. Late or plagiarized papers are ineligible for revision.
Note: Just turning in a revision does not guarantee you will receive a higher grade. In the event that the revised draft grade is actually lower than the original assignment, you will receive the higher of the two grades; however, a higher revision grade always replaces the original grade, so if you are prepared to work hard, your grade will most likely benefit. See the class web page for more information on the major paper rewrite. Please see the class web page's assignments section for more explicit details.


While I have an office phone, the best way to communicate with me is via email.  I am generally quick to respond, but please be advised that I may take up to 48-hours to respond during the semester (and longer during breaks).  I generally do not answer emails after 5PM because of family obligations, so 1 AM messages the night before a paper is due will normally not get a response before class.  My expectation is that you will check your email each day, particularly between the final class meeting and the posting of grades.  I will not spam the class with non-class related materials, so if you get a message from me, please consider it important and respond if needed.


All College Policies must be followed and are a binding part of this syllabus. Of particular note are the Student Code of Conduct (which deals largely with behavior) and the Student Academic Code of Ethics (which deals academic honesty issues).

Plagiarism constitutes a serious breach of academic honesty and will not be tolerated. Unless I deem an act of plagiarism or cheating an honest mistake, I routinely assign students an "F" in the course for any act of academic dishonesty without the option of withdrawing from the course. Especially egregious acts will receive an "FX" with an additional notation of academic misconduct on the student's transcript. Please note that submitting work from another class as original work for this course constitutes academic dishonesty. For a full discussion of the Academic Honesty policies, please see http://www.mc3.edu/policy/aa/ethics.htm.
All students in my English courses will submit their papers to TurnItIn.com, a tool that checks your papers against other sources. You will have a chance to see your report and revise it before the final draft is due, should you choose


In the interest of due process, the College provides an appeal process for a student who believes that a recorded final grade does not accurately reflect his/her academic performance in a course due to issuance of an arbitrary grade, inconsistent grading practice, or mechanical error. The policy and procedure are found on the Grade Appeal policy page.


The purpose of the Student Code of Conduct is to guide students to understand their responsibilities in regard to appropriate behavior and respect for others in the college community. The policy addresses classroom disruptions and removal from the classroom for behavioral issues.  It also provides the standards for ensuring the College provides due process to students through the judicial process. The policy and procedure are found on the Student Code of Conduct policy page.

While I have an office phone, the best way to communicate with me is via email.  I am generally quick to respond, but please be advised that I may take up to 48-hours to respond during the semester (and longer during breaks).  I generally do not answer emails after 5PM because of family obligations, so 1 AM messages the night before a paper is due will normally not get a response before class.  My expectation is that you will check your email each day, particularly between the final class meeting and the posting of grades.  I will not spam the class with non-class related materials, so if you get a message from me, please consider it important and respond if needed.


Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) welcomes qualified students with disabilities and endorses the principles of nondiscrimination and reasonable accommodation as described in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). To see if you are eligible for services and reasonable accommodations in this course please review the policy on the Disability Services web site. As someone with mild dyslexia, I understand the challenges of pursuing higher education with a disability, and I will never make you feel bad for seeking an accommodation as long as you give enough advanced notice.


Regular attendance and punctuality are expected. Students may miss four class meetings and remain in the course. The fifth absence will result in either a required withdrawal from the course (before the November 4, 2020,deadline) or an automatic F in the course (after the November 4, 2020,deadline for withdrawal without a signature).  At the start of the semester, each student will receive 12 points of extra credit for attendance.  Points lost for tardiness or absences will initially be taken from this pool of points, giving students the flexibility to miss two classes without injury to their grades.  Each absence will subtract five points from a student's total points scored for the semester. Each late arrival will subtract two points from the total points scored. A point will be awarded for each class attended. If a student knows he or she will miss a class, that student should alert Dr. Halbert beforehand. Under special circumstances (usually involving a documented medical emergency or a death in the family), you may request permission to remain enrolled in the course if your absences have exceeded four, but such circumstances are rare. Attendance will be taken by sign-in sheet at the start of class: students arriving after the sign-in sheet will be marked tardy. If you arrive late, please wait until the end of class to sign the sheet. Failure to sign the sheet at all constitutes an absence. Students who leave class early must ask for permission prior to the start of class; if you leave without permission before I dismiss the class, you will be marked absent for the whole period. Good manners suggest that if you know you will miss a class meeting, you will contact me and let me know. COVID-19 Addendum: I will use a screenshot of the class participants to take attendance within the first five minutes of the class. If you come in late, you need to send an email to me stating you came in late.


In the event of inclement weather or other emergency, the College will post closures on the school's web portal and send text messages to anyone who has signed up for them.  In the event that I have to cancel a class, I will email the class and post a message on Blackboard (assuming I have power at home to access the Internet). I strongly urge each of you to set up Montco's text messaging alert on your mobile phones as well: the College will send an alert of campus-wide closings.


Students are encouraged to consult with their instructor and/or an academic advisor when initiating a Course Withdrawal. The instructor's permission must be requested and received if requesting a withdrawal after 60% and before 75% of the course is completed. After 75% of the course is completed, students may apply for an Excused Withdrawal due to medical, catastrophic, or other circumstances beyond the student's control. Specific dates of deadlines for this semester can be found at http://www.mc3.edu/adm-fin-aid/deadlines. Click here for College policies on grades, incompletes, withdrawals, and audits.
Should you wish to withdraw from the course, the deadline to withdraw without my signature is November 4, 2020. If you do not formally withdrawal, you will receive an F for the course even if you stop attending. After November 4, 2020, I will not sign any withdrawal requests unless you have a documented emergency. If I have not returned the first paper by this date, I will extend the deadline until one week after that paper is returned.

The absolute last day to get my signature is November 19, 2020.  After that, all requests to withdrawal must be made directly to Academic Affairs.

Applications for an "Incomplete" will only be entertained in cases of documented medical emergencies, incarceration, or military call-ups. Audits will not be permitted unless you start the course as an audit student and can convince me that you are willing to do all that work for no grade.


For each major paper, we will write at least one draft and a revised final version.  Each draft needs to be uploaded to the Discussion Board in Blackboard with the paper both copied and pasted AND attached as a file.  One purpose of this upload is to create a backup file of your paper should your computer/storage device crash.  The other is so that you can read the works of others to see other approaches to the same writing task you are facing.  While stealing the words or ideas of others in the class will result in a plagiarism charge, stealing someone's style or rhetorical moves isn't: most strong writers at some point have looked at the works of others as guides on how to write.


When the final draft of a major paper is due, you will need to do the following:

  • Submit the paper to the appropriate dropbox on Blackboard as either an MS Word, Pages, or Rich Text Format file.  When required, a works cited page should be included in the same file.  This file is what will actually be graded, so make sure it matches the same final version that you submitted in hardcopy. 
  • Post a copy to the discussion board in the "Final Draft" forum..


All work is due at the beginning of class on the day listed for the syllabus unless otherwise noted. I hate late work from students: it complicates my ability to grade or simply keep track of your work. More importantly, it devalues the efforts of your classmates who work very hard to meet their deadlines. To discourage late work, I have the following policy:

  • Final drafts of papers lose 25 points (out of the possible 200 points) for each 24-hour period they are late. This penalty includes Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Other late assignments have a 24-hour period to be submitted. They will be graded, and that grade will be divided by 2 and entered into the grade spreadsheet.

Late work will kill your grade, so don't do it. If you know ahead of time that you will not be able to complete a task, contact me for an extension. I reserve the right to make an exception to the late policy in the case of an extreme (and documentable) emergency, but that almost never happens.


Tutorial Services is a FREE service that helps students develop learning strategies based on their unique learning styles with the goal of creating successful students and independent learners. Tutorial Services helps students achieve academic success by providing in person and online tutoring in course content and study skills.​ For questions and a full list of Tutorial Services hours and services visit the website or contact tutoring@mc3.edu.


Any student who has difficulty accessing resources to meet their basic needs i.e. safety, food and/or stable housing and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact Wellness@mc3.edu


As adults, students and the instructor should know to do the following in class:

  • Be prepared for class with work completed and required materials available.
  • Refrain from non-class related conversations once class has started.
  • Keep cell phones and pagers in "silent" mode and refrain from answering them or using them to send text messages. Should a student expect an important call (because of family emergencies or issues of similar magnitude), please make the instructor aware of that possibility before class.
  • Inform the professor if you will be recording the class.
  • Treat each other with mutual respect: while we can challenge each other's ideas in class, personalized attacks or use of inappropriate language directed at another member of the class community is unacceptable.
  • Ask for help if you need it.
  • Make the most of this course. It will help in the future.


The current pandemic makes demands of all of us in the class. For some, it's a minor irritant, but for others, particularly those with compromised immune systems or relatives in high risk groups, it offers a number of special challenges that range from access to technology to childcare to unpredictable emergencies. The nature of this class is fundamentally affected by the pandemic in the following ways:

  • The course cannot meet face-to-face.
  • The course is synchronous, though, which means we meet online at the same time on assigned days. Attendance is required.
  • You will need reliable internet and computer access to complete the course.
  • Printed materials cannot be provided in class, unfortunately.
  • Library and tutoring support are online-only for the semester.
  • Office hours must be held virtually.
  • You will need to keep your cameras on during class time. If there is an issue with this expectation, you need to email me immediately so we can find a solution.
  • Attendance will be taken by me using a screen shot of the class participants.

 If you run into a Covid-specific issue that affects your ability to continue in the class, please reach out to me to help find a solution.


I enjoy teaching literature courses: I believe they can be the most empowering classes a person can take in college because the skills you learn can help you in virtually every part of your life. I took this job to help people discover their potential: as long as you are willing to do the work, I will do everything in my power to help you not only pass the course, but to be the best writer you can be.


Site URL: http://www.halhalbert.com/classes/fall2020/eng245
Site designed and owned by Dr. Harold William Halbert
Site Created on August 31, 2020