Course Syllabus

Course Information
Course Expectations

Course Information

Christmas as we know it today, is largely an artifact of traditions that emerged or solidified in the 1800s in the United States. Before then, Christmas was variously ignored or celebrated in quite limited ways in the Christian World. In the 1800s the combination of immigration, emergence of a middle class in cities, religious practices and ideals, a focus on children and the development of the lithograph combined to make the U.S. a perfect breeding ground for our current Christmas traditions. We will undertake our learning by examining:

Course Description

This December Intercession online class will use readings, pictures and videos to present general concepts that we will examine in collaborative online discussions and in personal essays that reflect upon:

Course Learning Goals

After completing this course, you will be able to:

Course Competencies

In this course, you will develop the following competences:


Competence Statement and Criteria


Can explain the concept, function, and expression of culture and illustrate the explanation with one or more cultures.

  1. Defines culture as a concept through which to see and interpret the world.
  2. Chooses a theoretical model for analyzing cultures.
  3. Describes two or more dimensions present in one or more cultures using this model.

Students demonstrate this competence by explaining "culture" using appropriate explanatory models or theories. The dimensions of culture that students choose to analyze may include traditions, rituals, religious beliefs, laws, or arts. Students can fulfill the competence through courses and independent learning pursuits that analyze their own or another culture. In this class we will explore and contrast the development of sacred (religious) and secular Christmas traditions in the 1800s United States.


Can explain the function of Christmas related writing and art to the transmission of culture and values in the 1800s United States

  1. Examines the works for Moore, Nast, and several first person accounts of period Christmases
  2. Identifies the social context relevant to the development of these works and their impact on the culture of the day.
  3. Analyzes the work from the perspective of that historic and social context

Students demonstrate this competence by looking at a number of 19th century Christmas writings, drawings and carols, evaluating their cultural impact on and utility to the emerging Middle Class, shifting populations, immigration and religious groups in the of the United States in the 1800s



30% of final grade

Module One (2 each)

10% of final grade

Module Two

5% of final grade

Module Three

5% of final grade

Module Four

5% of final grade

Module Five

5% of final grade


70% of final grade

Module Two

15% of final grade

Module Three

15% of final grade

Module Four

15% of final grade

Module Five

25% of final grade

Grading Policies and Practices

To complete the course, you should complete all readings, assignments and participate in all Discussions. Class rubrics are used to grade all activities. Points are deducted for late work.

Course Resources

In addition to reading materials, a group of Thomas Nast's images will be included in the course content. Students should see Online Learning Technical requirements to ensure access to these materials.

Required Reading and Media:

Module Content for all Modules

Other e-reserves as assigned

Other online reading as assigned

Other media resources as assigned

Course Textbooks:

Forbes, B. D. (2007). Christmas, A Candid History. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.

Buy this textbook at

NOTE: due to the short duration of this class, YOU MUST HAVE THIS TEXTBOOK BY THE START OF CLASS. IT IS AVAILABLE AS BOTH A GOOGLE EBOOK AND A NOOK BOOK for immediate purchase.

eReserve Readings (linked in each Module)

Alcott, L. M. (1976). Christmas at Orchard House. In J. a. Charlton, A Christmas Treasury of Yuletide Stories. NYNY: LDAP.

Baur, J. E. (1993). Christmas on the American Frontier 1800-1900. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics (Originally published 1961: Caxton Printers, LTD; Caldwell, ID).

Cather, W. (2008, July 8). My Antonia Book 1: The Schimerdas Sections XI and XII. from

Elliott, J. (2002). Inventing Christmas: How our Holiday Came to Be. NY, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

Johnson, H. (1991). A Home in the Woods, Pioneer Life in Indiana. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Moore, C. (2005, December 23). The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Visit From Saint Nicholas. Retrieved June 3, 2013, from Project Gutenberg:

Nissenbaum, S. (1996). The Battle for Christmas. NYNY: First Vintage Books, Random House.

Restad, P. L. (1995). Christmas in America: A History. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Theobald, M. M., & Oliver, L. H. (2000). Four centuries of Virginia Christmas. Richmond, VA: Dietz Press.

Wilder, L. I. (1935). Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus. In L. I. Wilder, The Little House On The Prairie. NY, NY: Harper Collins

Course Grading Scale

A = 95 and above

A- = 91 to 94.999

B+ = 88 to 90.999

B = 85 to 87.999

B- = 81 to 84.999

C+ = 77 to 80.999

C = 73 to 76.999

C- = 69 to 72.999

D+ = 65 to 68.999

D = 61 to 64.999

F = 60.999 or below


The instructor does not round up in final grading.

Please note: Grades lower than a C- do not earn credit or competence in the School for Continuing and Professional Studies.

Back to Top

Course Structure

This course consists of 5 modules over 17-25 days. The class will average a module every three to four days. The estimated student time to complete each module varies. Generally, 10 hours of student time are required in each Module of single Competence courses. Pay close attention to assignment due dates. The following table outlines the course:

The following table outlines the course:






Module One: Introduction and Setting

Day one and two of class

Module One: Introduction and Setting

Reading: Baur, 1993, pp. 21-32

Reading: Forbes, 2007, pp. 45-66

Discussion Rubric

Optional Reading:

Additional Readings

Reading:The Expansion of Everyday Life. Chapter 4: Churches, Charities, and Schools. Sutherland, 1989.

1.1 Introductory Discussion

1.2 Discussion: Surprises in the Baur and Forbes Readings


Module Two: Mumming and Misrule

Days three through six

Module 2: Mummers and Misrule

Reading: Nissenbaum, 1996, pp. 49-55

Reading: Johnson, 1991, pp. 39-40, 56-64

Reading: Alcott, 1976

Reading: Wilder, 1935

Reading: Cather, 2008

Writing Rubric

Contrasting and Comparing as a Writing Skill

2.1 Discussion - Misrule

2.2 Four Children's Stories

Module Three: Santa 1830-1890

Days seven through ten

Module 3: Santa 1830-1890

Reading: Moore, 2005, pp. 42-57

Reading: Forbes, 2007, pp. 67-107

Nast Images PowerPoints

3.1 Discussion - Santa Trends

3.2 Santa's Cultural Evolution

Module Four: Singing

Days eleven through fourteen

Module 4: Singing

Reading: Elliott, 2002, pp. 92-101

Video: History of the Christmas Carol

4.1 Discussion - How Music Moves Culture

4.2 Contrasting Two Carols

Module Five: The Tree, Celebrations

Day fifteen through end of class

Module 5: The Tree, Celebrations

Reading: Review Forbes, 2007, pp. 44-66 and pp. 118-122

Reading: Theobald & Oliver, 2000, pp. 63-72

5.1 Discussion - Final Project Help

5.2 Final Essay

Course Expectations

General Expectations

The December Intercession’s two and a half weeks fly by. Deliverables are due within the first two days of class.

Students should participate in Discussion every day. The Discussion is intended as a forum to explore ideas and help you reflect upon and complete your Module assignment. Participation in Discussions every day, with posts on multiple threads, replying to others demonstrates competence at a passing level.

Students are adults and will be treated as such. Students should communicate like adults about their progress in class. The Instructor will gladly help students with questions or issues that arise during the class. It is the student's responsibility to seek this help when needed.

Reminders for missed or late work will not be sent out. Work not received will be graded with zero points. It is always to a student's benefit to submit some work and receive partial credit rather than submit no work and receive no points. Late work will be graded accordingly and will receive fewer points than work that is on time. 

Updates will be posted in the Class D2L Home page under News. Students are expected to read these items and respond as is appropriate. Students should also read all class email.

It's recommended that students have a backup plan for the loss of their primary PC/MAC and internet connection.

The instructor will give constructive feedback as is allowed within the time constraints and level of enrollment in the class.  Feedback is intended as constructive and to help you learn more from the class.  At a minimum, rubric assessments will be returned on each discussion and dropbox assignment. 

The instructor will respond to all email sent to within 48 hours.  Only this address should be used for the instructor.   If students do not receive replies within 48 hours, they should re-send the message.  

Office hours are available over phone or Skype by appointment at the student’s email request. 

Incompletes may be granted at the discretion of the instructor and within University regulations but will only be granted for a maximum of one additional month from the end of class.

General Assessment Criteria for All Writing Assignments

All writing assignments are expected to conform to basic college-level standards of mechanics and presentation. This class focuses on comparing and contrasting as a writing skill.

Consider visiting the Writing Center to discuss your assignments for this course or any others. You may schedule appointments (30 or 50 minutes) on an as needed or weekly basis, scheduling up to 3 hours worth of appointments per week. Online services include Feedback by Email and IM conferencing (with or without a webcam). All writing center services are free.

Writing Center tutors are specially selected and trained graduate and undergraduate students who can help you at almost any stage of your writing. They will not do your work for you, but they can help you focus and develop your ideas, review your drafts, and polish your writing. They can answer questions about grammar, mechanics, different kinds of writing styles, and documentation formats. They also can answer questions and provide feedback online, through IM/webcam chats and email.

Obviously, the tutors won't necessarily be familiar with every class or subject, but they are able to provide valuable help from the perspective of an interested and careful reader as well as a serious and experienced student-writer.

Schedule your appointments with enough time to think about and use the feedback you'll receive. To schedule a Face-to-Face, Written Feedback by Email, or Online Appointment, visit

Any plagiarized writing will be graded with a zero and returned to the student for revisions.  The instructor prefers that students learn how to avoid any and all plagiarism, intended or not.

Discussion Forum Evaluation

Discussion Forums are an important component of your online experience. This course contains discussion forums related to the topics you are studying each Module. In fact, Discussions are designed to help surface information that will make completing assignments easier. You should plan to engage in online Discussion every day of the term, in multiple threads and always respond to others’ enquiries.

A Course Q & A discussion forum has also been established to manage necessary, ongoing social and administrative activities. This is where the management and administrative tasks of the course are conducted, and where you can ask process questions and receive answers throughout the course. Please feel free to answer any question if you feel you know the answer; this sharing of information is valuable to other students.

Discussion Forum postings will be assessed based on Timeliness, Relevance, Integration of Content, and Contribution to Learning Community (see the Discussion Forum Rubric). Here are some specific ways you can effectively contribute to learning in discussions:

1. Offering ideas or resources and inviting a critique of them

2. Asking challenging questions

3. Articulating, explaining and supporting positions on ideas

4. Exploring and supporting issues by adding explanations and examples

5. Reflecting on and re-evaluating personal opinions, applying information from the course

6. Offering a critique, challenging, discussing and expanding ideas of others

7. Negotiating interpretations, definitions and meanings

8. Summarizing previous contributions and asking the next question

9. Proposing actions based on ideas that have been developed

You will not get credit for posts that use simple phrases like, "Great ideas!" or "I like that."

When you support someone's opinion, describe or analyze why; refer to the 9 points above; and use words like, "But," "Additionally," "I agree and" "However," "What about," etc.

Course Drop Date

The course drop date will follow DePaul academic policies and the current Academic Calendar.

Course Expectations

Time Management and Attendance

SNL's online courses are not self-paced and require a regular time commitment EACH week throughout the quarter.

You are required to log in to your course at least four times a week so that you can participate in the ongoing course discussions.

Online courses are no less time consuming than "face to face" courses. You will have to dedicate some time every day or at least every second day to your studies. A typical four credit hour "face to face" course at SNL involves three hours of classroom meeting per week, plus at least three to six hours of study and homework per week.

This course will require at least the same time commitment, but your learning activities will be spread out through the week. If you have any problems with your technology, or if you need to improve your reading or writing skills, it may take even longer.

The instructor should be notified if your life events do not allow you to participate in the course and the online discussions for more than one week. This is particularly important when there are group discussions or you are working as part of a team.

If you find yourself getting behind, please contact the instructor immediately.

Back to Top

Your Instructor's Role

Your instructor's role in this course is that of a discussion facilitator and learning advisor. It is not their responsibility to make sure you log in regularly and submit your assignments. As instructor, s/he will read all postings to the general discussion forums on a daily basis but may not choose to respond to each posting. You will receive feedback to assignments.

The instructor may choose to designate "office hours" when s/he will be online and available and will immediately respond to questions. Depending on the instructor, this response may be by e-mail, instant messenger or telephone. Otherwise, you will generally receive a response to emailed or posted queries within 48 hours.

Back to Top

Your Role as a Student

As an online student, you will be taking a proactive approach to your learning. As the course instructor's role is that of a learning guide, your role is that of the leader in your own learning.

You will be managing your own time so that you can complete the readings, activities and assignments for the course, and you will also be expected to take a more active role in peer learning.

Please also note that this is a course offered by DePaul University's School for New Learning (SNL), a college for undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students 24 years and older. SNL welcomes the perspectives and encourages the participation of all DePaul students, and students who take this course should respect and be mindful of SNL's mission in supporting a diverse and inclusive environment. More information about SNL can be found here.

View this brief demo Taking SNL Online courses in D2L to learn how to navigate through your course.

If you’re new to SNL Online see additional resources on the course home page under Student Resources/Getting Started.

Back to Top

Course Netiquette

Online discussions are an important part of your course experience. To ensure a positive learning environment, please follow the following minimum expectations. Use your common sense, as not all situations can be covered:

Back to Top


Academic Integrity

DePaul University is a learning community that fosters the pursuit of knowledge and the transmission of ideas within a context that emphasizes a sense of responsibility for oneself, for others and for society at large. Violations of academic integrity, in any of their forms, are, therefore, detrimental to the values of DePaul, to the students' own development as responsible members of society, and to the pursuit of knowledge and the transmission of ideas.

Violations include but are not limited to the following categories: cheating; plagiarism; fabrication; falsification or sabotage of research data; destruction or misuse of the university's academic resources; alteration or falsification of academic records; and academic misconduct. Conduct that is punishable under the Academic Integrity Policy could result in additional disciplinary actions by other university officials and possible civil or criminal prosecution. Please refer to your Student Handbook for further details.

Back to Top


Plagiarism is a major form of academic dishonesty involving the presentation of the work of another as one's own. Plagiarism includes but is not limited to the following:

Plagiarism, like other forms of academic dishonesty, is always a serious matter. If an instructor finds that a student has plagiarized, the appropriate penalty is at the instructor's discretion.

Back to Top

DePaul University Incomplete Policy

The intent of the Incomplete grade is to allow students extra time to complete their final assignments. This need arises because, in the closing weeks of the course, they have an event of significant magnitude that adversely affects their ability to complete the course, e.g. serious illness, death in the family, overseas deployment, or natural disaster.

You must request an incomplete grade in writing two weeks before the end of the quarter. Incomplete grades will be considered only after you have satisfactorily completed at least 75 percent of the coursework, and you have such an unexpected, uncontrollable event that prevents you from completing your course. Do not assume that you will qualify for an incomplete. Students who are failing the course at the point where they request an incomplete will not receive one, nor will they be granted after the end of the quarter. Incomplete grades are given at the discretion of the instructor.

If you do receive permission from the instructor to take an incomplete in the course, you will be required to complete a contract with the instructor, specifying how you will finish the missing work within the next two quarters (excluding summer). See the Incomplete Grade Contract Form.

Undergraduate and graduate students will have up to two quarters to complete an incomplete. At the end of the second quarter (excluding summer) following the term in which the incomplete grade was assigned, remaining incompletes will automatically convert to "F" grades. Ordinarily no incomplete grade may be completed after the grace period has expired. Instructors may not change incomplete grades after the end of the grace period without the permission of a college-based Exceptions Committee. This policy applies to undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. NOTE: In the case of a student who has applied for graduation and who has been approved for an Incomplete in his or her final term, the incomplete must be resolved within the four-week grace period before final degree certification.

Back to Top

Description of Pass/Fail Grading Options

Students have the option of taking all SNL undergraduate courses as Pass/Fail even if a class is initially structured for a letter grade assessment. In these cases a Pass is awarded when competence is demonstrated at a level that would otherwise earn a grade of C- or higher.

In deciding to select Pass/Fail grading students should be aware that competencies assessed in a course as Pass will earn credit hours toward degree completion but will not be included in computing grade point averages. Attempted competence demonstration assessed within a class as Fail will not only be recorded as credit hours attempted but will also be included in computing a student's grade point average.

For SNL students, competencies awarded for Independent Learning Pursuits and in the Lifelong Learning Domain do not count toward the university's specification that only twenty credit hours may be earned through the Pass/Fail assessment option.

Please note:There are three SNL courses within the BA curriculum that are always assessed on a Pass/Fail basis: Foundations of Adult Learning (course number LL 250; competences L-2 and F-1), Advanced Project (course number FA 303; competences F-11 and F-12) and Summit Seminar (course number LL 390; competence L-12). These classes may not be taken for a letter grade assessment. Therefore, work that might otherwise be assessed at grades A through C- will earn a Pass in these classes.

There are an additional five SNL courses within the Lifelong Learning Area of the BA curriculum for which instructors regularly use a Pass/Fail grading system that may instead be taken for a letter grade assessment if this is a student's preference. These classes are: Independent Learning Seminar (course number LL 103; competence L1); Writing for Competence (course number LL 260; competence L-4), Critical Thinking (course number LL 270; competence L-5), Research Seminar (course number LL 300; competences L-8 and L-9), and Externship (course number LL 302; competences L-10 and L-11). In addition, SNL's undergraduate Writing Workshop (course number LL 140; competence H-3-J) regularly uses Pass/Fail, although students may request a letter grade assessment. In these instances SNL offers undergraduate students the opportunity to request a letter grade assessment from their instructor. Students who need a letter grade for tuition reimbursement may wish to consider this option, as well as those who wish to raise their GPA. Students planning to attend graduate school may also prefer letter grades to Pass/Fail assessments.

If a student wants to switch the method of assessment, either to or from the Pass/Fail option, this must be requested from the instructor in writing by the beginning of the third week of the quarter. For courses that meet fewer than ten weeks of the quarter, this request must be made by the beginning of the third week of the course. The grading basis may not be changed after these deadlines, with no exceptions.

Back to Top

For Students Who Need Accommodations Based on the Impact of a Disability

Students seeking disability-related accommodations are required to register with DePaul's Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) enabling you to access accommodations and support services to assist your success. There are two office locations:

Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD)
Loop Campus: Lewis Center 1420. (312) 362-8002
Lincoln Park Campus: Student Center 370. (773) 325-1677

Students are also invited to contact their instructor privately to discuss your challenges and how the instructor may assist in facilitating the accommodations you will use in this course. This is best done early in the term and the conversation will remain confidential.

Dean of Students Office

The Dean of Students Office (DOS) helps students in navigating the university, particularly during difficult situations, such as personal, financial, medical, and/or family crises. Absence Notifications to faculty, Late Withdrawals, and Community Resource Referrals, support students both in and outside of the classroom. Additionally we have resources and programs to support health and wellness, violence prevention, substance abuse and drug prevention, and LGBTQ student services. We are committed to your success as a DePaul student. Please feel free to contact us.

Back to Top

Protection of Human Subjects

For more information see:

Demonstrating the acquisition of competencies in this course can involve "interactions"—interviewing and or observing other people—discussing those interviews or observations with other class members and writing them up in one or more final report(s). As such, these activities qualify as "research" with "human subjects" and are subject to University and Federal guidelines. Because it takes place in the context of this course, your research is exempt from approval by the School for New Learning's Local Review Board only under the following conditions:

Back to Top

Copyright and Student Privacy

In accordance with DePaul’s Acceptable Use Policy, commentary and materials within SNL Online classes shall not be copied, reproduced or published elsewhere without the express written consent of individuals involved.

Back to Top


This course was designed and produced by Jill Joachim and staff at the School for Continuing and Professional Studies of DePaul University.

©2013 School for Continuing and Professional Studies, DePaul University. All Rights Reserved by SCPS during contractual interval with the Author.

Printed in the USA.

Back to Top