" The purpose of the writer is that he (she) is here to observe things
that others are too busy to observe."
“ If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
In this introductory course in literature we will read a variety of short stories, novellas, and novels. We will explore strategies for the analysis and interpretation of fiction, paying special attention to both its cultural content and such basic elements of the genre as point of view, character, plot, setting, and language. For those interested in pursing writing as a career, this course will expose you to extraordinary works and start you on the path of improving your writing by studying those who have been more than successful in this field. Whether you have designs on the writing field, or are just looking to take an engaging and thought-provoking class, I challenge you to put away your predisposition to what you “don’t read” and indulge in the cultural richness of these stories.
• Identify and understand varied characteristics of literature
• Apply techniques of literary analysis to texts
• Use literary study to develop skills in careful reading and clear writing
• Demonstrate understanding of the diverse social and historical contexts in which literary texts have been written and interpreted
• Read and discuss narrative on the level of both plot and theme
• Appreciate the beauty of various and distinct voices in literature
• Ann Charters, The Story and Its Writer, 6th Edition
• Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
• Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
• Dorothy Allison, Two or Three Things I know for Sure
• F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
• If necessary, Blackboard and E-reserves
There is a glossary of literary terms in the back of the Charters anthology. Terms need not be memorized all at once, but as they come in relation to the reading. Exams will include questions on these literary terms.
Class Participation 20%
Though there will be occasional lectures, this course is primarily discussion based. This means that participation is MANDATORY. A lack of participation will affect your grade. To participate in my class means: 1) to answer and ask questions; 2) to volunteer to read; 3) to present a 5-10 minute presentation on an author; and 4) to participate in a small groups (lead discussions on short stories, novel chapters, etc.) Come to all classes prepared to talk about the reading materials. Class etiquette is extremely important for this course (and all courses!). We will be have several small and large group discussions. It is extremely rude to carry on another conversation while someone else is talking, whether it is me or one of your classmates. If you have an extreme fear of public speaking, please see me.
Attendance counts toward your overall participation grade. (see attendance guidelines below)
*possibility for “extra credit” by attending a Fiction Reading, more details to follow
One 3-5 page essay will be due. The essay will due in November. Since our class will explore diversity through literature, your essay will address this issue in response to one of the novels or short stories. More details TBA.
Exams 40%(20% each)
There will be a mid-term and a final exam. The exams will consist of short answers, short essays and literary terms. If you have been attending class, doing the readings and passing your quizzes, the exams should not something be to dread. If you haven’t done you work, you should be very worried.
Quizzes and Short Answer Reponses 20%
Quizzes, often as short as 3-5 questions, will be a familiar part of this course. There will also be short-essays responses, one question-one paragraph response. These quizzes/short essays, are needed to gauge your attention to your reading assignments. If you are absence on the day that a quiz/short essay is given, please don’t bother trying to convince me to give you a make-up. Your time will be better spent focusing on upcoming assignments.
There will be a chance to drop the lowest quiz.
Policies and Procedures
Regular attendance and participation is crucial to the success of this course. I take issues of prompt, prepared attendance very seriously. If you aren’t in class, you can’t learn from class discussion nor do we have the chance to learn from you. Attendance in this class is mandatory. You are allowed to miss two classes over the course of the semester. After those two absences, five points will be taken off your final grade average for each additional unexcused absence. Upon the sixth absence, you will receive a failing grade for the course.
Using someone else’s words or ideas as your own on any assignment is plagiarism. Plagiarism is grounds for failing an assignment, or possibly failing the course. Academic Integrity policy: http://studentconduct.uncg.edu/policy
Avoid distracting or disrespectful behavior (talking while others are talking, insulting others, etc.) Everyone has a right to his or her opinion, and a right not to feel threatened because that opinion differs with the opinions of others. Note that argumentative discourse is the most effective way of changing opinions, not threatening, coercing, or ostracizing. Also, refrain from eating “noisy” foods or foods with a heavy aroma. We are all adults and I shouldn’t need more details here. If it is violated, I will NOT allow snacks in the classroom. Turn off cell phones and pagers. (See Student Code of Conduct)
Formatting Your Writing
All writing that is turned in to me (unless it is turned in during the class in which it was written) must be typed with the following guidelines: Double-spaced, 1” margins on top, bottom, and sides. 12-point font (Times New Roman or Arial ONLY)
I am planning on using Blackboard as an aid to all of us in this course. I may occasionally post messages to the class as well (for things such as changes in assignments or readings, reminders about due dates, changes in class meeting place, class cancellations, etc.). Therefore, you should check your Blackboard account daily. Not having checked Blackboard will not be an excuse for missed work.
The Writing Center
The Writing Center is a valuable resource for all writers on the UNCG campus. It is located in 101 McIver. It is open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 8pm, Friday from 9am to 3pm, and Sun. 6pm-9pm. You can just drop in, bringing your in-progress work with you, or you can schedule an appointment by calling 334-3125
*The reading should be completed on the date that it appears. This is a rough outline, adjustments will be made as needed. If you are out, consult with me, or one of your classmates, for possible changes, additions, etc.
Aug. 16 Introduction, Syllabus
Aug. 18 Grace Paley, “A Conversation with Ann Charters,” Margaret Atwood, “Reading Blind,” Richard Wright, “Reading Fiction”
Point of View
Aug. 23 Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Why I Wrote the ‘Yellow Wallpaper’” Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl,” also, Jamaica Kincaid, “On Girl”
Aug. 25 James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues,” and James Baldwin, “Autobiographical Notes” Toni Cade Bambara, “The Lesson,” (Possible short film)
Aug. 30 Sandra Cisneros “House on Mango,” 1-34pg
Sept. 1 Sandra Cisneros, “A House on Mango 35-55, Divide the rest of “Mango” into groups
Sept. 6 Conclude “Mango,” Prepare for short-short essay on “Mango”
Sept. 8 William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily,” (Another story possible TBA)
Character and Characterization
Sept. 13 Presentations
Sept. 15 Presentations
Sept. 20 Dorothy Allison, “Two or Three Things”
Sept. 22 Dorothy Allison, Con’t “Two or Three Things,” Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
Sept. 27 Raymond Carver, “What We Talk About When We
Talk About Love”
Plot and Structure
Sept. 29 Edgar Allan Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado,”
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart”
Oct. 4. James Alan McPherson, “The Story of a Scar,” E.L. Doctorow, “A House on the Plains” E-reserves
*Oct. 6 Mid-term (More details to follow)
Oct.13 F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby” First two chapters
Oct. 18. Great Gatsby (possible group work TBA)
Oct. 20. Great Gatsby (possible group work TBA)
Setting, Language, and Style
Oct. 25 Ernest Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants,” Russell Banks, “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat”
Oct. 27. Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal” Junot Díaz, “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars
Nov. 1 Edwidge Danticat, “Night Women”
Nov. 3 Annie Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain” E-reserves
Nov. 8 Toni Morrison, “The Bluest Eye” (Group assignments)
Nov. 10 “The Bluest Eye” (Group work TBA)
Nov. 15 “The Bluest Eye” (Group TBA)
Nov. 17 “The Bluest Eye” (Group TBA)
*Nov. 22 Essay due (more information forthcoming)
Nov. 24 Thanksgiving
Nov. 29 (Review for Final, (Open Readings)
Dec. 1 (Review for Final, Opening Readings, Wrap up)
Final Exam Date: TBA