Course Summary and Learning Goals:
This course will serve as an introduction to narrative. Together we will read, discuss, and write about different narrative texts and conventions. We will learn how to apply techniques of literary analysis to texts, and use literary study to develop skills in careful reading and clear writing. Over the course of the semester, we will cover historical criticism, gender criticism, new criticism (or close reading), and psychological criticism, among a smattering of other approaches to comprehending stories, poems, novels, and songs. While we are enjoying the pleasure of well-wrought stories, we will also be focusing on polishing your grammar, writing style, and critical thinking/reading skills.
My goal this semester is to have fun. This may sound off-base for a class, but I want you to want to be here. To that end, I have designed a somewhat non-traditional syllabus full of assignments that should interest and engage you while also challenging you to think and requiring a high level of proficiency in analysis, writing, and grammar. I have personally selected the text we’ll read this semester—I feel that this is important for you to know because it conveys to you my commitment to making this course enjoyable. I believe that the texts chosen are fascinating, moving, and truly amazing works of literature. Hopefully, my enthusiasm for these texts will be contagious. I have also found that the courses I most enjoyed in college were those in which the teacher was not only qualified and knowledgeable about the subject matter, but also passionate and positive.
Ownership is one of my main priorities—in other words, I want you to
feel pride in and a connection with the work you turn in here. I don’t
want to read empty, forced analysis any more than you want to write it. But
in turn for the freedom to do projects that are not so boring as to be mind-numbing,
you must fulfill your end of the bargain. I expect hard work and dedication.
Please do not mistake my goal of fun for the substitution of serious learning.
One can learn in many ways (not all of which have to be burdensome and grueling),
and one can work hard without always recognizing it as such. Here is what I
require of you as a baseline minimum for participation in this classroom:
• You must complete the reading assignments in time to discuss them on the day indicated on the syllabus.
• You must be willing to participate in this class. Shyness will be respected here, but willingness to speak your mind will be appreciated and rewarded.
• You must take the assignments seriously. I require a high standard of writing and analysis from you. Your analysis must be grounded in the texts and must be worded eloquently and with correct grammar. Everything you turn into me that bears your name should be written with pride.
• Leave the excuses for some other class. I’m fun, but I’m also a stickler. I do not want to hear excuses. This is a course for real students who are serious about learning. Turn your work in on time and in the required format. Keep up with the little assignments; they often come back to haunt you in a big way if you don’t.
Lynn, Steve. Literature: Reading and Writing with Critical Strategies.
Kincaid, Jamaica. Lucy: A Novel.
***ONE of the following—Please do not buy any of these until we’ve discussed Book Clubs and chosen novels!!!***
Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game.
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening.
DeLillo, Don. White Noise.
Hornby, Nick. High Fidelity.
Morrison, Toni. Beloved.
Mukherjee, Bharati. Jasmine.
Toomer, Jean. Cane.
1. Reading Assignments: We will do quite a bit of reading in this class, so it is important to keep up with class assignments and take time to read carefully and thoroughly. I have made it a personal goal to pick texts that I think are relevant and interesting. Hopefully, you will think so, too, and will want to read for the course. But if this is not the case, you need to make yourself read for the course because without having read the texts, the course will not mean much to you. Try to just enjoy taking a few minutes out of the day to read something with a story, to read something with lyrical beauty, and to read something inspiring, as opposed to the dry, straightforward, plot-less stuff through which your other courses ask you to plod. In order to help you become more observant and more active readers, I will ask you to turn in some sort of response to be graded every single class day that a reading is due—either three typed discussion questions based on the day’s reading or a short, extended response. Each week you will complete one of each. For example, if you hand in questions on Tuesday, you must hand in an extended response on Thursday. If you hand in an extended response on Tuesday, you will hand in questions on Thursday. There will also be short quizzes on the readings.
2. Book Clubs: Throughout the semester, you will work in groups since this is one of the best ways to learn from one another. For a large part of the semester, you will work in a Book Club group, reading a novel together and organizing a teaching presentation for the class based on the book you read. All group members will be held accountable for what goes on in their time together, and I will regularly monitor the group’s progress. You should treat the book club like the real thing in the real world; in other words, hold meetings regularly to discuss the on-goings of the novel up to a certain point. You will be allowed to rank the top three Book Club groups you would like to be in based on a short description of each novel that I will present to you on the first day of class. The seven novels I have picked are amazing—full of the stuff that makes stories great: lyricism, drama, scandal, sex, murder, pop culture, music, family dynamics, relationships, child prodigies, ghosts, etc. You are REALLY going to enjoy ANY of these books; in fact, I wish you could all read all of them; they are each wonderful in their own right. But because you are only human and not reading machines and because the semester is only so long, it is my goal that you will actually read and work first hand with one of these novels while gaining exposure to all of them through the other groups’ presentations and teaching projects. More info is forthcoming!
3. Papers: I am into alternative writing assignments. I think that straightforward analysis is useful but sometimes creatively stifling. Therefore, I want to incorporate some more exciting and multi-media projects into the course. Each of you will be putting together Song Presentation/Paper. I will explain more soon. I will also be asking you to do an analysis of one of your own dreams. More details to follow. Also, you’ll do several drafts of each essay. Please do not throw them away, as you will need them to show process and progress in your portfolio. Late papers will not be accepted. No exceptions. Do not bother turning a paper in late—the “F” will have already been recorded.
4. Participation: Participation in class discussions, combined with regular attendance, is a key to success in this class. Even if you are a bit shy, try to speak up and make your opinions, thoughts, and ideas heard. Just as important as speaking, of course, is active and respectful listening. Part of the beauty of literature is that there are a multiplicity of interpretations to be found within any one piece of writing. Try to be open to ways of understanding a text that might be different than your own. We will learn A LOT from each other as this class goes on. My goal is that we will feel like a learning community where everyone feels comfortable having his/her voice heard and wants to participate in class discussion.
I know that you will bring to this class a set of preconceived notions, ideologies, belief systems, and personal histories that will enrich our discussions and provide us with great jumping-off points. However, I hope that over the course of the semester some of these viewpoints will be shaken up a bit, so that you learn to respect other people’s opinions while perhaps refining/reevaluating some of your own. You may come to the same conclusions that you’ve held dear all along, or you may decide that some of your preconceived notions about the world need to be altered. Regardless of the end result, at least you will actively attempt to understand why/how you came to the opinions you hold, all the while gaining exposure to and respect for other people’s views.
5. Portfolios: At the end of the semester, you will turn in a writing portfolio that will include revised entries of papers you have worked on throughout the semester. Hopefully, it will be a compilation of pages that you are proud to submit to me. I’ll give you more details about it in the future.
6. Attendance: In this type of class, attendance is crucial and missed class time cannot be made up. Therefore, you are allowed THREE absences with no questions asked. If you miss for a fourth time, your grade will go down one letter grade. If you miss for a fifth time, you will be dropped from the course and will fail it. If you have an extenuating circumstance, please consult with me about it. I can’t help you if you don’t communicate with me. Additionally, being late to class is rude and disruptive. Don’t do it. If you are more than 10 minutes late to class twice, that counts as an absence. Finally, if you miss class it is your responsibility to find out what you have missed. An absence is not an excuse for being unprepared for the next class—assignments, etc. are still due.
Other Items of Note
1. Email/Internet Access: Please activate your UNCG email account as soon as possible and make sure you can get onto the Internet. I will be contacting you via email quite frequently. Often, I will touch base with the class to send out reminders or to follow up on something I forgot to tell you in class. I hold you responsible for the information disseminated via email; if you aren’t going to check your UNCG email account regularly, please provide me with a working email account that you do check often to which I can send important memos. Likewise, I will send documents via email attachment that you will need to have for class.
2. Academic Honor: Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Please see the section on academic honor in the UNCG Student Handbook if you have any questions. If you are unsure about citing something, see me. You are always better safe than sorry!
3. The Writing Center: This free resource is available to all UNCG students. You may make an appointment or just drop in to have a one-on-one conference with writing consultants. They can assist you on any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming topics to revising a final paper. The center is located in 101 McIver and is open Monday-Thursday from 9-8 and Friday from 9-3. In my experience, students who go to the writing center (especially for editing/polishing assistance) always improve a lot and tend to have very successful papers.
Final Portfolio: 50% Daily Assignments, Quizzes, Etc.: 15%
Participation: 15% Book Club Work and Presentation: 20%
The following schedule does not list quizzes or other in-class and assignments. This is all subject to change.
Key: LIT = Literature: Reading and Writing with Critical Strategies; Anything on E-Reserve will be indicated as such in parentheses following the text’s title
T 8/16: Hand out syllabus and go over it; Introductions; Book Club book descriptions; “Did I Miss Anything?” by Tom Wayman (can be found in LIT 1)
For Thursday, READ: LIT 13-middle of 17 and middle of 21-middle of 27; “Daddy” by
Sylvia Plath (E-Reserves)
DUE on Thursday: Your book club preferences (1-7, with 1 being the book you want the most.) Please type these and make sure your name is on it.
Th 8/18: Discuss different types of literary criticism; Fiction terms; Poetry terms; Use “Daddy” to apply different types of criticisms
For Tuesday, READ: “My Papa’s Waltz” (LIT 88); “The Mother” (LIT 71)
T 8/23: Discuss “Daddy” in terms of Poetry terms (diction, theme, structure); Discuss “My Papa’s Waltz” and “The Mother” in terms of New Criticism
Th 8/25: Book Club Meeting #1—Receive Book Club groups and assignments; Meet in Book Clubs to set schedule for semester (you will turn in a set schedule to me by the end of class today) and discuss direction in which you want to take your project
For Tuesday, READ: “The Knife” (LIT 475) and “Louisiana Loses Its Cricket Hum” (426)
T 8/30: Discuss “The Knife” and “Louisiana Loses Its Cricket
Hum” in terms of New Criticism
For Thursday, READ: “Wild Geese” (LIT 411) and “Blackberries” (511)
Th 9/1: Discuss “Wild Geese” and “Blackberries” in terms of Gender Criticism
For Tuesday, READ: “wishes for sons” (E-Reserves);
“ A Boy Named Sue” (E-Reserves)
T 9/6: Discuss “wishes for sons” and “A Boy Named Sue” in
terms of Gender
Criticism; Listen to “The Father of a Boy Named Sue”
For Thursday, READ: “The Shawl” (527); “Dulce et Decorum Est” (731); “Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” (E-Reserves)
Th 9/8: Discuss “The Shawl” and war poems in terms of Historical Criticism
T 9/13: Book Club Meeting #2
Th 9/15: Song Presentations
T 9/20: Song Presentations
Th 9/22: Song Presentations
T 9/27: Song Presentations
Th 9/29: Book Club Meeting #3
For Tuesday, READ: “The Yellow Wallpaper” (LIT 316); LIT 1176 (“Psychological Criticism, Psychoanalytical Criticism”; LIT 243-top of 245; Passage 1 of The Interpretation of Dreams (E-Reserves)
T 10/4: Discuss “The Yellow Wallpaper” in terms of (Biographical Criticism leading into) Psychological Criticism; Discuss Dreams
For Thursday, READ: Passages 2 and 3 of The Interpretation of Dreams (E-Reserves); Bring your dream summaries with you
Th 10/6: Discuss Freud; Begin work on Dream Analysis paper
For Thursday 10/13, READ: Excerpts of William Styron’s novel Sophie’s Choice (E-Reserves) and article by “Yours Truly” (E-Reserves)
***Make sure you are getting started on Lucy! It needs to be read in its entirety by Tuesday, October 18th!
T 10/11: No Class—Have a GREAT and SAFE Fall Break!
***Make sure you are getting started on Lucy! It needs to be read in its entirety by Tuesday, October 18th!
Th 10/13: Discuss Application of Psychological Criticism; Workshop Dream Analysis
DUE Tuesday: Dream Analysis Papers
For Tuesday, READ: Lucy in its entirety!
T 10/18: Discuss Lucy
Th 10/20: No Class
T 10/25: Discuss Lucy
Th 10/27: Book Club Presentations
T 11/1: Book Club Presentations
Th 11/3: Book Club Presentations
T 11/8: Book Club Presentations
Th 11/10: Book Club Presentations
T 11/15: Book Club Presentations
Th 11/17: Book Club Presentations
No Class—Happy Thanksgiving!!!
T 11/29: Workshop Final Portfolios
Th 12/1: Workshop Final Portfolios
Thursday, December 8th from 8-11