Wrap up of Winter Intro to Literature

As a reminder, revisions of the second literature review are due to me no later than 9:00 a.m. this coming Friday, the 27th. Late submissions may come too late to count toward your grade, so don't push your luck.

I will be in my office, 5-157, Wednesday from 10:30 to 12:30 for certain, and likely sometime before and after. At this point I don't have plans to come to campus on Thursday, but if you want to meet with me and can't come Wednesday, I'll see what I can do. Don't wait until Thursday morning to ask though.

If I don't see or hear from you, enjoy your break.

Reaction Charts for Daily Readings

Monday's reaction chart should address Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark." It's expected that you'll bring it to class, typed, to turn in before leaving. The reaction chart assignment, which is an informal writing-to-learn assignment, serves several purposes. One is to insure that you read all the assigned readings, for you can’t write a reaction chart unless you do. Also, these charts should help you organize and articulate your responses to the various readings, and they also provide valuable information to me about what is and isn’t understood. It’s okay to get things “wrong” on the reaction chart. They also prepare you to discuss the readings in greater depth, to probe the ideas presented. Each reaction chart should address the following questions. Each should be illustrated with its own passage from the reading and some explanation as to why that passage was chosen, what concerns it raises. The big question we will consider is “What does this reading do?” To get a sense of that, you’ll answer each of the following for each reading.
  • What does this reading do and why might that be of interest or importance?
  • What ideas in this chapter are new to you and especially interesting?
  • What do you value?
  • What do you question, disagree with, feel like pushing back against?
  • What question about the reading do you most want answered?
When a reading is scheduled to be discussed on your course calendar, a reaction chart is due. I will collect the reaction sheets in class because the information you provide helps me anticipate important issues and questions that we need to address. You must word process/type reaction charts. If you do not bring a reaction chart to class, you will be asked to leave and you will not be able to participate in the discussion.

English 111 Syllabus

English 111^W: Introduction to Literature

Bradley Bleck
Office: 5-157
Phone: Office 533-3572
email: bradleyDOTbleckATspokanefallsDOTedu
Class Time: 9:30-10:20 MTTh
Student Drop-in Hours: After 1:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and by appointment; otherwise, check my office door schedule for available times. Please feel free to email me with questions. Seriously. I mean it.

 

Required Text:Literature to Go, 2nd Edition. Michael Meyer, ed. New York: Bedford St. Martins, 2014.

Wait to buy one of the following:

  • Monkey by Cheng'en, Wu (any translator)
  • Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Official Course Description: Students read and discuss short stories, plays and poetry with an emphasis on better understanding and appreciation of literature.

Unofficial course description: In this class we will read, discuss, and write about a bariety of literature and culture from various historical periods and movement while looking at what literature has to offer us in terms of better understanding and appreciating the human condition, whatever that might mean.   In doing so, we’ll look at poetry, fiction both short and long, and drama to develop some understanding of humanity’s heritage. We will be exploring a variety of questions, including, but not limited to:

  • What is Literature?
  • What makes literature Literature?
  • How is humanity reflected in Literature and what might we make of this?
  • Who are these writers of Literature and why might that matter?
  • Why read Literature? What is the point of all this?

As members of the class, you are to completely read all material as assigned prior to listed discussion dates, to have completed journals, to tweet questions, to take part in discussions, to complete writing assignments that focus on the readings and topics under discussion and to complete assigned projects. You should budget at least 15 hours a week for the course (10 hours outside of class for reading, writing, and working).

I hope to help you enjoy and understand literature, provide you will some tools for increased understanding of the literature you read (or at least an idea of where to find material that will help you increase your understanding), and help you to formulate and express your thoughts--written and spoken--concerning Literature and why it matters in the world at large. Keep in mind I am not some oracle of Literature. I prefer to explain what people do not understand and to provide background and context for what we will read and let you puzzle things out as much as possible. Don't expect me to lecture on and explain what writings "mean." I don't have all the answers to what we will read (assuming such answers exist). This does not mean that a piece of literature means whatever you want it to mean; interpretations need to be based on specific elements and their contexts within the text. However, I have considerable experience reading, studying, interpreting, and criticizing literature. This I will share with you.

Grading

Let’s just say I hate grading, period. Grading takes a bunch of the fun out of a class such as this one. When I grade, my approach is to be as friendly a reader/grader as possible and give you the best grade that is reasonable given the work submitted. I also like to keep things simple, but it doesn't quite pan out that way.

Points

Literature Review 1: 100 pts
Literature Review 2: 100 pts
Reaction Charts: 50 pts
Journals: 50 pts
Final Exam: 50 pts
Book Club Project: 50 pts

The final grade were be determined by the percentage of points earned out of the 450 possible. You will earn the bulk of your grade in the latter stages of the class, when you should know more and be able to earn better grades. However, neglecting the daily seminar, reaction chart and weekly journal points will hurt not just learning and enjoying the class, but it will damage your grade as well. Don't blow off these low-stakes opportunities.

Questions? You Have Questions?

Good, that means you are doing some thinking. However, when you have a question about the class or what we went over in class, my first question (yeah, I'll respond to your question with a question of my own) will be, depending upon which is appropriate, "What does the syllabus say about that?" or "What do your notes say about that?" The first means you'll likely need to check the syllabus. The second means that you better be taking notes, because if you don't, then I"m going to send you to your classmates for an answer, because I won't repeat what was covered. I will do my best to help you understand, if you do your part by paying attention and taking notes.

Final Study Guide

Write two essays based upon your experience in this class. Use separate sheets of paper. No ancillary materials (meaning books, computer notes, paper notes, print outs of the reading, anything at all) are allowed. 50 points total.
  1. Using specific examples from the assigned readings to illustrate what you have to say, write an essay that describes/explains the value you see in the various literature we have read having for readers today and why this value is of interest or importance. Any essay that fails to go beyond the 5-paragraph essay model will receive no more than 15 points. (25 points)
  2. Using specific examples from the assigned readings to illustrate what you have to say, write an essay that examines some thread you see running through the literature we read. Threads can be, but are not limited to, race, class, domestic relations and relationships, humanity's place in the cosmos, or what have you. Each phase of this evolution should be illustrated with appropriate examples from the readings. Any essay that fails to go beyond the 5-paragraph essay model will receive no more than 15 points. (25 points)

Journal Nine: Nora as Tragic Heroine?

As with the last two weeks, we'll use what Aristotle wrote about tragedy as our starting point:

Tragedy is characterized by seriousness and involves a great person who experiences a reversal of fortune (Peripeteia), generally from good to bad because this induces pity and fear within the spectators. Tragedy results in a catharsis (emotional cleansing) or healing for the audience or character (who experienced catharsis is open to dispute) through their experience of these emotions in response to the suffering of the characters in the drama.

Based on this, and compared to Oedipus and/or Othello, can we make a good argument for Nora being a tragic figure, one who would be acceptable to Aristotle (if he didn't most likely view the world through a rather patriarchal lens)? Does she have the requisite qualities of a "tragic hero"? (Or heroine if you like. And don't forget the final 'e' there, otherwise, it's just heroin.) As you answer this, show how Nora is or is not like Oedipus or Othello, with specific examples illustrating your view on the three and how they are (not) necessarily noble enough to evoke our pity and fear with regard to their demise. Illustrate your discussion with passages from each of the plays that provide support for your view.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Fascinating Womanhood Movement

Journal Eight: Oedipus to Othello

For those who missed Thursday's class, a draft of the second literature review is due in class on Thursday for response from book club peers. You may look into any of the poems or poets we worked with or any of the plays we have read or are about to read.

As with last week, we'll use what Aristotle wrote as a starting point. This is a pretty standard take on tragedy:

Tragedy is characterized by seriousness and involves a great person who experiences a reversal of fortune (Peripeteia), generally from good to bad because this induces pity and fear within the spectators. Tragedy results in a catharsis (emotional cleansing) or healing for the audience or character (who experienced catharsis is open to dispute) through their experience of these emotions in response to the suffering of the characters in the drama.

Based on this, and compared to Oedipus, how do you see Othello? Does he have the requisite qualities of a "tragic hero"? As you answer this, show how Othello is or is not like Oedipus, with specific examples illustrating your view on the two and how they are (not) necessarily noble enough to evoke our pity and fear with regard to their demise. Illustrate your discussion with passages from both plays that provide support for your view.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Journal Seven: Oedipus and Tragedy

Reminder: No class on Monday. Reach through Act III of Othello for Tuesday.

Even though Aristotle used Oedipus Tyrannus as the model from which he developed his thoughts on tragedy, we don't have to accept these notions if we don't want to. However, we'll use what Aristotle wrote as a starting point. This is a pretty standard take on tragedy:

Tragedy is characterized by seriousness and involves a great person who experiences a reversal of fortune (Peripeteia), generally from good to bad because this induces pity and fear within the spectators. Tragedy results in a catharsis (emotional cleansing) or healing for the audience or character (who experienced catharsis is open to dispute) through their experience of these emotions in response to the suffering of the characters in the drama.
Given who you are, and the world we live in today, develop a brief argument for or against Oedipus the play as a tragedy or Oedipus the man/character as a tragic figure. Illustrate your discussion with these and any other thoughts on tragedy you might want to rummage up along with specific passages and examples from the play. Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Journal Six: Poetry and the Jeffersonian/Utilitarian Pursuit of Happiness

Don't forget--midterm book club presentation in class on Monday

In class today, Laura spoke about poetry isn't often viewed as a democratic, maybe egalitarian, literary form, but instead something for the "elites." One hope I have is that this brief introduction to poetry over the last two weeks has made it more accessible, more of something that anyone can find pleasure and value in. I just wrote in a blog response that when Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we should be free in our "pursuit of happiness" as a fundamental right. What he meant is not a debauched sense of license, a sex, drugs and rock n' roll attitude, but that we should be free to pursue the development of the self in a way that fulfills our innate potential. As you see it, how would you say that the poetry from this week (and last if you want to work it in) contributes to this pursuit of Jeffersonian and utilitarian happiness? Why might that be of interest and importance? As you examine this notion, be sure to illustrate each point with specific examples from the readings.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Journal Five: But What of Poetry?

One of Emily Dickinson's poems reads as follows:

I REASON, earth is short,
And anguish absolute.
And many hurt;
But what of that?

I reason, we could die:
The best vitality
Cannot excel decay;
But what of that?

I reason that in heaven
Somehow, it will be even,
Some new equation given;
But what of that?

For this journal, let's ask the question, "but what of that?" of the poetry we have read this week, and poetry in general. What should we make of it? In a narrow or a broad sense? Tell us "What [you think] of that," with the "that" being the poetry and poets from this week. In developing your thoughts, flesh them out with examples from the readings, providing some explanation of what you are seeing.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

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