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INSTRUCTOR INFO Name = David Wallace; Office = Crookshank 101; Office Phone = 607-8357; Cell Phone = Office Hours = Tues. 4:00-5:00, 1/.it~tl~~~~.....,. 4~.3~o_fi;~~.)~.ft1ee~;-~a~~rldhb~y-;;a~p·p;;jOintment. REQUIRED TEXTS All these should be in paperback at the Huntley Bookstore: (1) J. M. Coetzee, Waiting/or the Barbarians; (2) Thomas Harris, The Silence a/the Lambs; (3) Matthea Harvey, Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace a/the Human Form; (4) Tony Hoagland, WhatNarcissism Means to Me. All other readings will be provided to you in Xerox handouts. Some of the Xeroxes I may have to make myself at Kinko's, in which case you'll get to reimburse me for them (total cost to you will be:::: $10.00). BASIC COURSE SPIEL The goals of this section of E67 are to survey certain important forms of modem literature-short stories, novels, poems-and to introduce you to some techniques for achieving a critical appreciation of literary art. "Critical appreciation" means having smart, sophisticated reasons for liking whatever literature you like, and being able to articulate those reasons for other people, especially in writing. Vital for critical appreciation is the ability to "interpret" a piece of literature, which basically means coming up with a cogent, interesting account of what a piece of lit means, what it's trying to do tolfor the reader, what technical choices the author's made in order to try to achieve the effects she wants, and so on. * As you can probably anticipate, the whole thing gets very complicated and abstract and hard, which is one reason why entire college departments are devoted to studying and interpreting literature. Accordingly, part of E67's raison d'etre is to serve as a kind of boot camp that helps prepare you for more advanced and/or specialized lit courses down the line. CLASS FORMAT English 67 is a seminar. By way of elucidation, please look at the following gloss from Prof. 's E67 syllabus for Fall '05: "This is a discussion-based course; it is not a lecture course. What we learn will be driven primarily by the questions, comments, ideas, and energies that you bring to our discussions. In other words, we will learn about texts by actively engaging them and each other in our regular meetings."
* Here's a somewhat sexier riff on "interpretation" from Prof. 's syllabus for one of his past E67s: We will also, of course, pay great attention to our own acts of interpretation. Are we decrypting, translating, or paraphrasing the texts we read? Demystifying them? Remystifying them? Are we trailing them as literary detectives, or trying them in a readerly court? Are we bathing them in acids to reduce them to their constituent parts? What is at stake for us in reading works of imaginative literature, and what social-and solitary-functions does it perform?
WRITING ASSIGNMENTS Three major essays (5-10 pages each) will be assigned at intervals over the semester. For each essay, I'll provide a couple of suggested topics, but you can also work up your own (if you do, I recommend that you bounce your topic off me in advance). You'll have at least ten days to do each major essay, and it's expected that these papers will represent your very best, most careful and considered work. I will schedule time for optional conferences before each essay is due. If you can make a reasonable case for it, I will permit you to revise either the first or the second major essay; the final grade for that essay will then become the average of the initial grade and the revision grade. (N.B. "Revise" does not mean merely fixing the typos or clunkers that I marked on the first version.) . There will also be 11 unannounced in-class writing assignments (a.k.a. minipapers) of 1-2 handwritten pages each. Mini-papers, which I will not mark on much," wili be graded either S (= "Satisfactory") or U (= "Unsatisfactory"). In order to qualify for an S, a mini-paper must be written in class at the time it's assigned; there is no way to make up a missed mini-paper even if you have an excused absence on the relevant class day. Nor can mini-papers be revised for credit. At the term's end, a composite grade for all your mini-papers will be calculated as follows: 10 papers graded S will result in the numerical equivalent of an A **; 9 Ss will = A-; 8 Ss will = B+; 7 Ss = B; 6 Ss = B-, and so on and so forth. COURSE RULES & PROCEDURES
Attendance at each class meeting is required. An absence will be excused only if it's negotiated in advance or there's a medical emergency. Ifnecessary, you will be permitted one free unexcused absence; each additional unexc. abs. will lower your final grade by one whole number. ** (2) You are required to do every last iota of the reading and writing assigned, exactly in the format requested, and it needs to be totally done by the time class starts. There is no such thing as "falling a little behind" in the course reading; either you've done your homework or you haven't. Chronic lack of preparation (which is easy to spot) will lower your final grade by one whole number. (3) Even in a seminar course, it seems a little silly to require participation. Some students who are cripplingly shy, or who can't always formulate their best thoughts and questions in the rapid back-and-forth of a group discussion, are nevertheless good, serious students. On the other hand, as Prof. points out supra, our class can't really function if there isn't student participation-it will become just me giving a half-assed ad-lib lecture for 90 minutes, which (trust me) will be horrible in all kinds of ways. There is, therefore, a small percentage of the final grade that will concern the quantity and quality of your participation in class discussions. But the truth is that I'm
* I'm happy to discuss a graded mini-paper with you at any time, of course. ** See the FYI about numerical grade-conversions on pp. 3-4 of the syllabus.
way more concerned about creating an in-class environment in which all students feel totally free to say what they think, ask questions, object, criticize, request clarification, return to a previous subject, respond to someone else's response, etc. Clinically shy students, or those whose best, most pressing questions and comments occur to them only in private, should do their discussing with me solo, outside class. Ifmy scheduled office hours don't work for you, please call me so that we can make an appointment for a different meeting time. ~(4) Your three major essays must be either typewritten or high-quality printed in regular font. They must bejouble-spaced, with one-inch margins all around, and stapled. They must have an unnumbered title a e with our n e the course, the date, and your essay's title. Your last name and the page number must appear in t e up er~ n orner of . 2 and 0 ever er "r(5) An extension on a major essay will be granted only under truly extraordinary circumstances, and only if the extension is negotiated in advance. (6) Your mini-papers must have your name, the course, and the date at the top. No title necessary. Your handwriting must be legible; what I cannot read, I mark "U." Feel free to use block capitals, to skip every other line, or to do whatever else you need to )(b. do to in order to make your mini-papers maximally easy to read. (7) Part of your grade for written work will have to do with your document's presentation. "Presentation" has to do with evidence of care, of adult competence in written English, and of compassion for your reader. Your three major essays, in particular, must b~ofread and edited for obvious tyPos and misspellings, basic -&!!_orsin grammar/usage/punctuation, and so on. You are totally pennitted to make neat handwritten corrections on your ess' r ions before you hand them in. You are also welcome to contact me with questions about proofreading, grammar, usage, etc., as you're working on revising and editing your essays. But papers that appear sloppy, semiliterate, or incoherent will be heavily penalized, and in severe cases you'll be required to resubmit a sanitized version in order to receive any credit for the essay at all. (8) Please buy a large, roomy pocket folder that's just for this class so that you can keep all your in-class writing, mini-papers, essays, and Xerox handouts in one organized place. Don't lose or discard anything for this course. You're required to bring all relevant materials with you to each class session; plus, at the term's end, I'll want to review all your graded work, and there will be a penalty if you can't produce it.
WEIGHTED DETERMINANTS OF FINAL GRADE Essay 1 = 15%; Essay 2 = 15%; Essay 3 = 30%; Mini-Paper Composite = 20%; Attendance, preparation, quality of class participation, presentations, improvement, alacrity of carriage, etc. = 20%. (FYI: For reasons of precision, I grade with numerals and decimals instead of letters and operators. The scale and equivalents go like this: 13 = A+ = Mind-blowingly good. 12 = A = Extremely good. 11 = A- = Very good. 10 = B+ = Good. 9 = B = High-average.
8 = B- = Low-average. 7 = C+ = Noticeably subpar. 6 = C = Severely subpar. 5,4,3,2 = Direly poor-we need to talk. 0= No credit.)
Schedule of Assignments (N.B. The prefix "X" refers to a Xerox handout.) T., 18 Jan. Intro to course; hors d'oeuvres of Kafka and Larkin (documents Xl and X2). Th., 20 Jan. (a) Read document X3, comprising "Reading a Story," "Fable and Tale," Maugham's "The Appointment in Samarra," the Grimms' "Godfather Death," Chuang Tzu's "Independence," "Plot," "The Short Story," and Updike's "A & P." (b) Read document X4, D. H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner." (c) Read document X5, which comprises Holst's "The Zebra Storyteller," some pithy editorial remarks, and Tallent's "No One's a Mystery." T., 25 Jan. (a) Read document X6, comprising "Point of View" and Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily." (b) Read document X7, Lynda Lloyd's "Poor Boy." (c) Read document X8, Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl." (d) Read document X9, Amy Homes's "A Real Doll." Th., 27 Jan. (a) Read document XlO, "Character." (b) Read document XII, comprising "Characterization," Welty's "Why I Live at the P.O.," aRd Baxter'i "Fecitag'i ~4e~ef." (c) Read document X12, Tom Bissell's "God Lives in St. Petersburg." (d) Read document X13, Amy Sohn's "Call-Hell." T., 1 Feb. (a) Read document X14, "Setting." (81 Read dOetHB8Rt oX) 5, Tack T OCdOR'i ~Te "Qaile a ~ir-e." (c) Read document X16, "Tone and Style." (d) Read document X17, Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." (e) Read document X18, Denis Johnson's "Emergency." (e) Read document X19, Ann Beattie's "Janus." Th., 3 Feb. (a) Read document X20, "Irony." (b) Read document X2l, Thomas Disch's "Displaying the Flag." (c) Read document X22, Jorge Luis Borges's "Funes the Memorious." (d) Read document X23, Lisa Blaushild's "Love Letter to My Rapist." (e) Read document X24, Sam Lipsyte's "Old Soul." T., 8 Feb. (a) Read document X25, "Theme." (b) Read document X26, "Theme." (c) Read document X27, Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find." (d) Read document X28, George Saunders's "Isabelle." (e) Read document X29, Raymond Carver's "Cathedral."
Th., 10 Feb. (a) Read document X30, comprising "Symbol" and Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums." (b) Read document X31, Aimee Bender's "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt." (c) Read Document X32, Robley Wilson Jr.'s "The Apple." ESSAY 1 TOPICS DISTRIBUTED. T., 15 Feb. (a) Read document X33, comprising "How Point of View Shapes a Story," "Writing Assignment," and a sample student essay on POV in "Cathedral." (b) Read document X34, comprising "Recognizing Symbols," "Writing Assignment," and a sample student essay on symbolism in "The Chrysanthemums." (c) Read document X35, a sample student essay on "A Rose for Emily." Th., 17 Feb. (a) Read document X36, comprising "Analysis" and the various subsections of "Interpretation." (b) Read document X37, "Making It Better: Revising Your Essay." T., 22 Feb. (a) Read document X38, "Critical Approaches." (b) Read document X39, John Barth's "Lost in the Funhouse." (c) Read document X40, John Gardner's "Moral Criticism. " ESSA Y 1 DUE. . Th., 24 Feb. (a) Read document X41, "Reading Long Stories and Novels." (b) Read up to Chapter 13 in Harris's Silence of the Lambs. T., 1 March Read up to Chapter 42 in Silence of the Lambs. Th., 3 March Finish Silence of the Lambs. T., 8 March Read up to Chapter III in Coetzee's Waitingfor the Barbarians. Th., 10 March Read up to Chapter IV in Waitingfor the Barbarians. DISTRIBUTED. -MIDTERM BREAKESSAY 2 TOPICS
T., 22 March Finish Waitingfor the Barbarians. Th., 24 March Read document X42, Cavafy's "Waiting for the Barbarians." ESSAY 2 DUE T., 29 March (a) Read document X43, "What is Poetry?" (b) Read document X44, "Entrances." (c) Read document X45, James Cummins's "The Brother," and come to class with a good paraphrase of the poem. Th., 31 March Read document X46, comprising "Tone" and "Speaker."
T., 5 April (a) Read document X47, comprising "Words and Their Order" and part of "Connotation and Allusion." (b) Read document X48, part of "Imagery." (c) Read document X49, Philip Larkin's "High Windows." Th., 7 April Read document X50, "Rhythm." T., 12 April (a) Read document X51, "Form." (b) Read document X52, Elizabeth Bishop's "Sestina." Th., 14 April (a) Read document X53, the opening part of Tony Hoagland's "Sad Anthropologists." (b) Read Part I (up to p. 23) of Hoagland's What Narcissism Means to Me. T., 19 April Finish What Narcissism Means to Me. Th., 21 April (a) Read document X54, Maxine Kumin's "Woodchucks." (b) Read document X55, a sample student essay on "Woodchucks." (c) Read document X56, Sharon OIds's "The Victims." (d) Read document X57, a sample student essay on "The Victims." ESSAY 3 TOPICS DISTRIBUTED. T., 26 April Read Part I (up to p. 13) of Matthea Harvey's Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form. Th., 28 April Read document X58, "What Is Literature?" T., 3 May ESSAY 3 DUE.
English 67, Section 02, Spring '05 Caveat Emptor Page
In the interests of full and up-front disclosure, here are some reasons why a student might plausibly decide not to remain enrolled in this section of English 67: (1) Your instructor is not a professional literary scholar. In fact, though my job title at the college says "Professor of English," I am not a professor, because I do not have a Ph.D. (2) Your instructor has taught intro lit courses before, but not for several years, and never before at a college this selective. The upshot is that there may be a certain pedagogical clunkiness about this section of English 67 . You will, in effect, be helping me learn how to teach this class. The level of our discussions may have to be adjusted up, or down, depending on how well-prepared you guys are and how quickly you catch on to the concepts and techniques of "close reading." Certain approaches might turn out to be a waste of time. There may be abrupt changes in the syllabus. Extra work may be added. Let me say that again: Extra work may be added. (3) Some other sections ofE67 also survey literary nonfiction and drama. In here, we'll be working only on fiction and poetry. (4) Your instructor has high standards for the written work you tum in. Take another close look at Course Rules & Procedures Items 4 and 7 on page 3 of the syllabus. I know that many professors say this kind of hard-ass stuff at the beginning of the term but don't actually mean it or enforce it as the course wears on. I, however, do mean it, and I will enforce it-feel free to verify this with students who've taken other classes with me. If you want to improve your academic writing and are willing to put extra time and effort into it, I am a good teacher to have. But if you're used to whipping offpapers the night before they're due, running them quickly through the computer's Spellchecker, handing them in full of high-school errors and sentences' that make no sense, and having the professor accept them "because the ideas are good" or something, please be informed that I draw no distinction between the quality of one's ideas and the quality of those ideas' verbal expression, and that I will not accept sloppy, rough-draftish, or semiliterate college writing. Again, I am absolutely not kidding. If you won't or can't devote significant time and attention to your written work, I urge you to drop E67 -02 and save us both a lot of grief. (5) For a total 332 recorded students since 1991, the average term grade that your instructor's given has been an 8.43, which is roughly midway between a B and a B-. (Again, see the numerical-grade-scale FYI on pp. 3-4.) Barring major problems in a student's attendance, preparation, or written English, I am not all that difficult to get a "B" -range grade from. "A" -range grades are reserved for work that is truly exceptional in some way(s}--please know this in advance. Know also that "C"-range grades are not at all impossible with me, though any student who appears to be headed for a final grade ~ 7 will be informed early of that fact and urged to avail themselves of extra help.