Class Information

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.


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.


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.


Hermeneutics, derived from Hermes, whose ambiguous messages from the gods required interpretation. Hermeneutics, to simplify a complex concept with a long history, assumes that the meaning of a text resides in the text itself, to be discerned by study of the text and only by well-trained and sophisticated readers. That concept differs from other reading theories that argue that the meaning of a text resides in the interaction of readers with the text, including various contextual matters.

White, Ed. "Re: Rubric for judging rubrics." WPA Mailing List. 28 June 2015.

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)

Fascinating Womanhood Movement

Sample Response Paragraph

With Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” the relationship between Bartleby and the Narrator is difficult to understand and Norman sheds some light on it. The Narrator seems often to be more concerned with what benefits his actions bring his way, as opposed to Bartleby, who, while not being particular, would prefer not to no matter what. Each man seems to have some goal in mind, though not a goal that jumps off the page in any obvious way. Readers see this when the Narrator tells the reader that by humoring Bartleby he may “purchase a delicious self-approval. To befriend Bartleby; to humor him in his strange willfulness, will cost me little or nothing, while I lay up in my soul what will eventually prove a sweet morsel for my conscience” (110). While Norman may not be speaking directly to this view of the Narrator, she writes that

The relationship between Bartleby and the Lawyer is the conflict of society, assured by common practice and precedent, that its habits and beliefs are not only right, but inevitable, with an individual who refuses to participate either in the daily round or the beliefs of that society. It is an old story, in which a man must be recognized and dealt with not in terms of his value to a particular enterprise, but because he exists. (24)

What this would seem to indicate is that the Narrator may be going about things all wrong, viewing Bartleby as something of a religious commodity and not a man whose soul is of concern, simply because he exists. Although the Narrator is seen to be well within his rights as an employer, it would seem to be less so in terms of being humane, negating whatever sweet morsel he thinks himself able to purchase.

Summary Sample

Based on what was shown in class on Monday.

In “The ‘Reader Fallacy’ and ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’,” David Shusterman writes that Liane Norman’s essay “Bartleby and the Reader” engages in a variation of Wimsatt and Beardsley’s Affective Fallacy where she confuses the story with its results. The story is not difficult because it is too demanding when it comes to understanding human interactions, but because it’s difficult to know what Melville is doing with the Lawyer trying to understand Bartleby. Melville wrote with the intention of being understood and Norman provides no evidence that he’s writing to some idealized reader. . Shusterman writes that the flaws in Norman’s essay include . . .

Final Study Guide

Attached, in two formats: rich text and .pdf!

Sheppard Lee major Characters


Sheppard Lee:
The main character and basic idiot. in a sense. he is described as being a large oaf, and is considered dull and lazy by his pears. considered unmotivated and always looks for the easiest path. he is tricked out of his land and fortune, only to die in the woods chasing a treasure that probably doesn't exist.

Squire Higginson:

Sheppard Lee Plot coverage

Sheppard Lee is the story of a foolish,almost child like man who has no sense of responsibility, who realizes that he has the amazing ability to leap into the body of the closest dead man. he uses this his new found power to take the lives of those who are better off then he is. or so it seems.

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