Instructor: Carl N. Peay
Office: McIver 136G
Office Hours: MW
Purpose: This semester we will explore the role of literature in our world through a careful analysis and discussion of poetry, drama and fiction. Over the course of the semester we will read a variety of poems, short stories, and dramas. We will use literature past and present as a tool to explore aspects of our reality and reveal more about ourselves as individuals and a society.
Expectations: Each of you is expected to be an active participant in the class, to have read the assigned texts before class, and complete assignments on time. Your final grade in the course will be determined using the following formula:
Exam #1 25%
Exam #2 25%
Final Exam 30%
Participation, Quizzes, Other Assignments 20%
Learning Goals: At the completion of this course, you will be able to:
· 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
Texts and Other Course Materials: Required texts for the course should be in the UNCG bookstore shortly; I’ll provide further instructions for this later. In an attempt to keep your book expenses to a minimum, much of the required reading will be placed on electronic reserve.
Attendance: Attendance is mandatory. Your participation is vital to the success of the class as a whole and your performance as an individual; each absence beyond four will lower your final grade by 1/3 of a letter grade, and eight or more absences will result in a failing grade. In addition, you are expected to arrive on time, fully prepared to engage in exercises and class discussions. Two late arrivals to class will be treated as one full absence. Please discuss any problems affecting your attendance with me as soon as they arise.
Finally, please be aware that I am accessible at any point during the semester to discuss your progress in the course. Feel free to stop by McIver 136G during my office hours or make an appointment at any time if you have concerns or questions or simply want to chat. I look forward to working with each or you in making this a productive and enjoyable semester.
We’ll begin the course with a few weeks of poetry, followed by short fiction and then drama. I prefer to adjust the course schedule frequently to allow us to linger on aspects of literature that need further exploration or breeze through texts that fail to engage the class. I’ll inform you of reading selections with ample time to read them, and you’ll always have at least one week’s warning of upcoming exams. Be aware that I may give unannounced quizzes on the assigned reading at any time.
by Billy Collins (
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poems’ room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with a rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
Assignment for Wednesday: Write a page or so (handwritten or typed) that addresses this question – what does “poetry” mean to you?