Syllabus / Schedule
Last Updated: 18 October 2019
|ESSAY #1||Essay Gradesheet (PDF)||MLA Tips & Template (WORD doc.)|
|ESSAY #2||Group PRESENTATION Guidelines|
|Correction Symbols||Course "NOTES" Page (incl. immediate assignments)|
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|COURSE WEB PAGE(s):||Both this SYLLABUS page and the course "NOTES"/Assignments page are accessible via Canvas, as are all course PDFs.|
COURSE DESCRIPTION/OBJECTIVES: For nearly two centuries, the short story genre has served both as artistic document of and commentary on world history and politics and as a microcosm of literary history itself, through the aesthetic stylistics of Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, and Postmodernism. This course will explore short fiction from its 19th-century origins and great masters to 21st-century examples of the genre, encompassing a diversity of literary styles and cultural worldviews and giving attention to both formal craft and recent critical theories.
By passing this course, you will fulfill ACE Learning Outcome 5: "Use knowledge, historical perspectives, analysis, interpretation, critical evaluation, and the standards of evidence appropriate to the humanities to address problems and issues." Your work will be evaluated by the instructor according to the specifications described in this syllabus. At the end of the term, you may be asked to provide samples of your work for ACE assessment as well. (2019 note: Since you'll be submitting formal assignments to Canvas, you will have provided such "samples" by default.)
Alexie, Sherman. Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories. New York: Grove Press, 2012.
Gioia, Dana, and R. S. Gwynn, eds. The Art of the Short Story. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006.
O'Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories . New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977.
—There may be two very similar Harcourt editions at the bookstore; one ends on page 265, one on 252. Get the 265-page book, if possible, since that is the pagination I'll be referring to.
—plus xeroxes/PDFs provided by your instructor (on Canvas)—
TEXTS "on RESERVE" (Love Library):
ATTENDANCE is highly recommended, not only because you'll learn more, but good attendance will go far in helping me determine your "Participation" points (see below). Most importantly, an inordinate number of unexcused absences (>6) will result in your final course grade being lowered by one letter grade. NOTE: official documentation for an excused absence must be provided within a week of that absence. Also, informing me after a missed class that you were sick or otherwise absent, without documentation from a doctor, coach, or Student Health, etc., does not constitute an excused absence. In other words, email me in advance that you're sicker'n'a dog, and I'll believe yu'. Finally, if you're not here during my (either oral or silent) roll-taking, you are LATE; an inordinate number of tardies, too, will also be considered in determining your Participation points.
NEW: "Pop" quizzes cannot be made up, unless you have notified me BEFORE the beginning of class that you qualify for an excused absence. If the excuse is okayed by yours truly, I will assign you a brief writing assignment regarding the reading(s) in question so that you can make up the points.
The three informal written RESPONSES will be graded holistically, and be assigned a point total (out of 60 possible) comparable to the final-grade schema above: e.g., an A- = 54 or 55, a C = 44, 45, or 46, etc. For the formal ESSAY assignments, each component of the assignment (content, organization, and grammar/mechanics)—the detailed guidelines of which will be eventually spelled out below on this web syllabus—will be assigned a grade (translated into a point total) based upon the following rubric:
PARTICIPATION: Oral Participation points will be allotted twice, at midterm and at semester's end, based on the quality of your contribution to at-large oral discussions of the readings and to various small-group activities involving said readings. Consider it your standing informal assignment, for each day's readings, to come to class with at least three points about the reading(s) that you could (at least potentially) bring up in discussion; these might be 1) "+'s": passages that you find especially enlightening or entertaining; 2) "-'s": occasions where you are disturbed by the reading, even to the point of irritation or anger; 3) "?'s": places in the text that you find very confusing, even incomprehensible. (You don't have to write these down, unless I'm reduced to the point of requiring it: simple annotations in the text's margins will do. Ultimately, I'm asking you to read carefully & critically, not just to go through the motions.) . . . To reinforce a previous if obvious point, attendance per se is essential to acquiring a decent point total for this component of your final grade. A less obvious point (to some previous students, apparently): coming to class without the assigned readings (texts, Canvas PDFs, etc.) is nearly as useless as not coming to class at all, and will also be noted and taken into account in determining your participation score.
Digital Text Policy: Only dedicated eReaders (e.g., Nook, Kindle, even the iPad) are allowed as substitutes for hardcopy texts** and PDF printouts. Accessing the material on a mobile phone is, frankly, absurd (and reveals an ad hoc unpreparedness); also, accessing course PDFs on your laptop in class says to me that you may not have read them in the first place. Finally, I'm requiring that assigned PDFs be printed out & brought to class, in good measure for the reasons above. Call me "old school," but experience has taught me that a digital reading (of assigned "literature," anyway) is more often than not an unreflective reading. . . . **As far as I can ascertain, only the O'Connor text is available in an electronic edition (I bought it myself); but if memory serves, it costs as much, if not more, than a used paperback version.
For "POP QUIZZES," I will simply ask you to write about the day's assigned readings for six minutes; such responses can certainly include your evaluation of the texts (liked? disliked? why?), but should above all demonstrate that you've done the reading(s) through frequent reference to textual specifics. Points will then be assigned on a holistic basis.At last, this aspect of the course serves as a simple reading check. I've only recently resorted to this evaluative measure, after over 20 years of teaching; but it's finally struck me (I'm really slow!) that some English majors are not as in love with words as I was as an undergraduate. (It's been a long, slow, painful lesson, as I've said.) . . . Ah, so I should remind you, then, to bring paper & a pen or pencil to every class meeting, especially if you're inclined to take all your notes on your laptop.
INFORMAL Written RESPONSES: Every few weeks (see schedule below), you will engage a specific group of course readings in a TWO-page (or more) written response, in reaction to (a choice of) prompts provided by your instructor. While computer print-outs are preferred, I will accept legible hand-written responses. And in contrast to the formal essays, these will be evaluated (almost) solely on CONTENT; however, egregious organizational or mechanical problems that militate against a facile understanding of said content may result in a lower score. . . . While I will eventually provide possible writing prompts (both analytical & creative) for each response before it is due, a major grading criterion is that you demonstrate that you have done the assigned readings for the time span covered. In fact, one option will always be the simple keeping of a "reading journal" in which you respond to the readings as you see fit. (Again, creative reactions are allowed, even encouraged.) Much of this may consist of brief paragraph responses to each of (or most of) the readings. I might even suggest doing these right after you read, and before class discussion, to the profit of your oral participation.
FORMAL ESSAYS: Guidelines for the formal essays will be presented later, on a detailed "handout" for each (to be available on this page, below). I plan to allow you several choices for each essay, to allow different personality types and learning styles to shine. While this is not a "writing" class in the strictest sense of the term, a small percentage of your essay point total will be based on yr speling, punktuashun, sentens struktures, and adherence to the MLA stylesheet. . . . . . . NEW (2019): To save a tree or two, please upload Essay #1 and Essay #2 to CANVAS; graded (& commented-all-up in WORD) essays will later be re-uploaded to Canvas for your perusal and edification.
DUE DATES, PAPER LENGTH, & ESSAY FORMAT: Unless special arrangements have been made, LATE written responses & essays will be docked 10% (= one letter grade) of their assigned point total for EACH DAY LATE, including all non-class days. (This includes Saturdays & Sundays. To prevent untoward accidents, save multiple copies of your work on a flash drive or "cloud," etc.; and don't wait until the last minute to print out that essay.) . . . Because of problems in the past in this regard, responses are due by/at the BEGINNING of the class period of the day it is due. If you will be absent (and EXCUSED) on a particular due date, email me a copy of your assignment by the beginning of class to demonstrate its completion; then provide me with a hard copy later, for me to grade. . . . While there is no "short" penalty per se, a paper that obviously fails to meet the assignment's minimum length guidelines will no doubt fail to gain a goodly number of points in criterion areas such as adequate development and support. Note, too, that a page padded with margins > 1" and a font > 12 pt. type dos not equal "one page." Essays should follow the MLA stylesheet format, including the documentation of sources via parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page (which, however, doesn't count as a "page" towards the length requirement).
PLAGIARISM is the undocumented use of another's words or ideas as your own, whether it be an entire paper that you didn't write or an almost word-for-word "paraphrase" from an outside source. Don't do it. Not only are you cheating yourself by wasting your time and money, but plagiarism is one of the most serious of academic offenses and will result, at a bare minimum, in a score of 0 for the assignment. You may also be failed from the course and be subject to further University sanctions, as the incident warrants.
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: I would like to hear from anyone who has a disability that may require some modification of seating, testing, or other class requirements so that appropriate arrangements may be made. Please talk with me before/after class or during my office hours.
(—see the Course Notes page at any time for the next class meeting's immediate assignments—)
WEEK 1 (Aug. 26th, 28th, 30th):: Syllabus/course introduction (incl. PowerPoint—also available on Canvas, under "Course Documents"); "The Art of the Short Story" (3-6); Poe: "The Tale and Its Effect" (725); Joyce: "Epiphanies" (464); "The Elements of Short Fiction" (849-862 [skim?!]); ESSAY #1 assignment (below)
WEEK 2 (. . . Sept. 4th, 6th):: Gogol: "The Overcoat" (311-331); Hawthorne: "Young Goodman Brown" (348-357)
WEEK 3 (Sept. 9th, 11th, 13th):: Flaubert: "A Simple Heart" (265-285); Melville: "Bartleby, the Scrivener" (600-626); Poe: "The Tell-Tale Heart" (721-725)
WEEK 4 (Sept. 16th, 18th, 20th):: Tolstoy: "The Death of Ivan Ilych" (758-797); Dostoevsky: "The Heavenly Christmas Tree" (Canvas PDF); Maupassant: "The Necklace" (591-596)
WEEK 5 (Sept. 23rd, 25th, 27th):: Gilman: "The Yellow Wallpaper" (297-309); Chekhov: "Misery" (147-151); Chopin: "The Story of an Hour" (157-158); Crane: "The Open Boat" (196-213)
WEEK 6 (Sept. 30th, Oct. 2nd, 4th):: Joyce: "The Dead" (434-464); Cather: "Paul's Case" (107-121); London: "To Build a Fire" (548-558)
WEEK 7 (Oct. 7th, 9th, 11th):: Kafka: "The Metamorphosis" (467-500); Anderson: "Hands" (15-19); Woolf: "A Haunted House" (844-845); Faulkner: "A Rose for Emily" (238-245); Hemingway: "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" (372-375)
WEEK 8 (Oct. 14th, 16th, 18th):: Borges: "The Garden of Forking Paths" (55-62); García Márquez: "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" (289-293); Baldwin: "Sonny's Blues" (27-49); Camus: "The Guest" (65-74)
WEEK 9 (. . . Oct. 23rd, 25th):: ESSAY #2 assignment (below); Cheever: "The Swimmer" (123-131); Oates: "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" (664-675)
WEEK 10 (Oct. 28th, 30th, Nov. 1st):: Barthelme: "Game" (Canvas PDF); Silko: "The Man to Send Rain Clouds" (739-742); Le Guin: "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" (531-535); Walker: "Everyday Use" (810-816);
WEEK 11 (Nov. 4th, 6th, 8th):: begin O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find (All stories will eventually be assigned, except for "A Circle in the Fire" & "A Late Encounter w/ the Enemy.")
WEEK 12 (Nov. 11th, 13th, 15th):: finish up O'Connor; begin Alexie's Blasphemy
WEEK 13 (Nov. 18th, 20th, 22nd):: Alexie (continued); begin group presentation planning
WEEK 14 (Nov. 25th . . .):: Alexie (continued); group pres. planning
WEEK 15 (Dec. 2nd, 4th, 6th):: finish up Alexie; more group pres. planning; begin group presentations(?)
WEEK 16 (Dec. 9th, 11th, 13th):: finish up group presentations; course evals.
ENGL 303:001—Fall 2019
—My Essay Gradesheet, if you're interested—
GENERAL ASSIGNMENT: Develop/support a focused thesis by "doing" something with at least ONE (and no more than TWO) short stories, at least one of which must be from our assigned readings in G&G. For ALL options, the same "outside" source requirements apply. (See Grading Criteria, below.)
1. Author Emphasis: Concentrate on the AUTHOR of one of our assigned short stories and include one other (non-assigned) short story from said author in your argument. (This 2nd story may be an unassigned story from G&G.) Develop a focused thesis regarding the author and these two stories, and feel free to employ other critical approaches besides a straight biographical one. (Frankly, a plain old-fashioned "here's how his/her biography affected these stories" treatment would probably be pretty boring. Choosing two stories from different periods in the writer's artistic development might provide a starting point for some interesting speculation. Better yet, merge this prompt with prompt #3 [below]: what is the author's known [or conjectural] relationship to issues of race, class, or gender?)
2. Formalist Analysis: Demonstrate how one of the assigned short stories achieves a "unified effect" through its skillful synthesis of technical devices (plot arrangement, characterization, point of view, diction, figures of speech, etc.). Ideally, (most of) your 2ndary sources should involve other critics addressing your particular story, or at least author. (This ideal applies to all prompts, actually, although it is obviously less doable w/ with more recently published stories.)
3. "The Others": Apply a post-formalist critical approach or approaches (see the introductory PowerPoint) to one of the assigned short stories. (If formalism deals w/ the "art," this is the politics). How is the story engaged with social justice issues involving race and/or class and/or gender and/or the non-human? (Confining yourself to one—or two related "Others" at the most—will help your focus.)
4. The ART and the TIMES: COMBINE #2 & #3; that is, do a formalist reading first, which then segues (as naturally as possible) into a "political" reading. (BTW, this isn't uncommon in current criticism; it's even been dubbed the "New Formalism.")
5. Problematizing the Periods: After reviewing the course introductory PowerPoint and probably doing more research, argue that one of our assigned stories that is usually regarded as Realistic actually has strong Romantic elements (or vice-versa); or—one that is usually regarded as a Modernist text actually has strong Postmodernist elements (or vice-versa). (There may even be other possibilities.)
6. (Good Ol') Comparison/Contrast: Compare/contrast two short stories, at least ONE of which is from our assigned reading. This option allows you to do a C/C version of options #2, #3, & #4, for one thing. Or it might be productive to think in terms of "big-picture" binaries (okay, "themes"!): life/death (sure are a lot o' people dying in these stories!?); faith & belief/doubt & disillusionment; individualism/community; realism (& naturalism)/idealism (incl. Romanticism). (Obviously, there are many other good ones.) Ensure essay focus by emphasizing one key difference (or related set of differences).
7. Creative Options: (Note, however, that the 2ndary source requirements remain the same.)
a. Screenplay/Closet Drama: Write a script in which two or three of our authors have a conversation on life, craft, philosophy, etc. (Secondary sources may include other writings by these authors. But including references to our assigned stories [which will be counted as primary sources] seems de rigeur.)
b. Short Story: Write your own short story that is a satire or imitation of one of the stories in our assigned readings. There are so many ways to go here, and motivations for doing this, that I will keep my mouth shut. (Okay, I can't: maybe a certain story strikes you as so laughable that it deserves satire; or a story seems to you so wonderful that an "updated" retelling in a contemporary frame seems in order.)
8. "Write-your-OWN" thesis/topic that fulfills the general criteria for the assignment. (See "General Assignment" above.) Topic must be okayed 2 weeks in advance of essay due date [that is, Sept. 30th]. Email me a paragraph-blurb on what you intend to do.
** LENGTH & FORMAT: At least 1,250 words (approx. 5 pages, not incl. Works Cited page); word-processed/printed and double-spaced throughout according to MLA specifications
* Note on CREATIVE Options: You will have to be more ingenious here in incorporating 2ndary sources. (Yes, a Works Cited page is still required.) These can be cleverly interlaced into the creative work itself, including via direct quotation; another option is to "gloss" your creative text with scholarly footnotes (which can be "cleverly" creative, even tongue-in-cheek, themselves!?). . . . Of course, Content & Organization will also be evaluated differently, since the criteria are different (and admittedly more subjective). But as for Grammar & Mechanix & shtuff: you still need to know how to spell (unless the misspelling is obviously intentional); and comma splices in a short story are still "wrong," unless it's clear to me that you're doing some Hemingway-or-whoever "stylistic" thing. (And I can also pretty well distinguish between an intentional and unintentional sentence fragment.)
For Works Cited that entail more than two separate entries from our main anthology, use the cross-reference method. That is, give the book with complete pub. info its own entry (the 1st item in the following list of entries), and then cross-ref. specific entries in a shorter format, as follows (and alphabetize!):
Gioia, Dana, and R. S. Gwynn, eds. The Art of the Short Story. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006.
Gogol, Nikolai. "On Realism." Gioia and Gwynn 331-332.
Hoffman, Daniel. "The Father-Figure in 'The Tell-Tale Heart.'" Gioia and Gwynn 888-889.
Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." Gioia and Gwynn 810-816.
ENGL 303:001—Fall 2019
GENERAL ASSIGNMENT: Develop/support a focused thesis by "doing" something with at least TWO short stories from the 2nd half of the semester (from García Márquez on), at least one of which must be from either our O'Connor or Alexie collections. For all options, the same 2ndary source requirements apply. (See Grading Criteria, below.)
1. Author Emphasis: Concentrate on either Flannery O'Connor or Sherman Alexie, and develop a focused thesis regarding the author and at least two of her/his stories. (Critical approaches besides a straight biographical one are highly encouraged.) As with Essay #1, you might do well to consider the author's known (or conjectural) relationship to issues of race, class, religion, & gender, etc. Especially interesting might be how (well) Alexie deals with being a Native American writer for a mostly whitestream audience, or how (well) O'Connor deals with being a Catholic/Christian author in a predominantly secular age. (The latter has, BTW, had a good deal to say about this "problem" herself, in essays & interviews.)
2. (Good Ol') Comparison/Contrast: a) Compare/contrast two short stories, one of which is from our G&G anthology and the second is from either the O'Connor or Alexie collection. Or: b) Compare and contrast an O'Connor story with an Alexie story.
2.b. Comparison/Contrast redux—O'Connor v. Alexie: Since we have/will have read a good number of stories of both O'Connor & Alexie, a more general C/C of the two might be very interesting. As (one peculiar) example, which author is more "obscene"?! (Alexie has been accused of [sort of] being such; might one argue that O'Connor's fiction is, in some ways, even more so, in terms of violence, racial hatred, etc.?!) OR: which author employs black humor more effectively in getting his/her "theme" across?
3. Alexie—Literary Influences/Cultural Hybridity: Alexie is usually lauded as an "Indian" author, whose fiction has a quite Native/indigenous focus. However, he also embodies cultural hybridity in being very much influenced by his Western Civ. literary forebears. (For example, in one sitting with this book, I noticed Kafka, O'Connor . . . even Ursula LeGuin?) Write an essay demonstrating that Alexie's fiction is very much in the European(/American) literary tradition. (Note that a discussion of sheerly formalist & genre matters would provide further support here. These stories aren't traditional oral chants in his tribal language, after all!)
4. Creative Option—Screenplay/Closet Drama (note, however, that the 2ndary source requirements remain the same): Write a script in which O'Connor & Alexie have a conversation on life, craft, philosophy, etc. (Good secondary sources would include, of course, other writings by/interviews of these authors. But including references to at least one story from each collection is also de rigeur (that is, required). One potentially interesting angle: Alexie has had some rather unkind things to say about Catholics/Jesuit missionaries!)
5. Creative Option—Short Story Parody: À la Essay #1. (I grudgingly included this option at the last minute, since several of you considered this as merely an "easy way out" for Essay #1.) Your story (as with all the other options) must incorporate two short stories as "sources" in some way, including one from O'Connor or Alexie, plus the 2ndary sources called for below. (This was a problem w/ some of you regarding Essay #1: to be brief, if you're not creative enough to incorporate "scholarly" sources—and some students did a brilliantly creative job in this regard—this probably isn't a good option for you.)
6. "Essay FINAL": Since, for the first time in many years, I'm not having a "final essay exam" per se, you can write one anyway: consider the entire body of short story readings, from Gogol on, and develop a thesis regarding a good number of the stories, maybe in terms of historical evolution, or specific "theme," or—? Include a treatment of at least one story each from O'Connor and Alexie. (I will grade all attempts at this option with rose-colored glasses.)
7. "Write-your-OWN" thesis/topic that deals in some way with the O'Connor and/or Alexie collections, and at least two assigned stories from the 2nd half of the semester. (Must be okayed 2weeks in advance of essay due date [M, Nov. 25th]. Email me a paragraph-blurb on what you intend to do.)
** LENGTH & FORMAT: at least 1,250 words, not counting your Works Cited page (approx. 4-5 pages); word-processed/printed and double-spaced throughout according to MLA specifications
ENGL 303:001—Fall 2019
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