Syllabus / Schedule

--Fall 2019--
11:30-12:20 MWF    AND 035

Last Updated: 8 November 2019

Contact InfoSyllabusSchedule
ESSAY #1Essay Gradesheet (PDF)MLA Tips & Template (WORD doc.)
Correction SymbolsCourse "NOTES" Page (incl. immediate assignments)

Contact Information: THOMAS C. GANNON        

OFFICE:346 Andrews Hall
MAILBOX:227 Andrews Hall
OFFICE HOURS:W, 10:20-11:20 a.m., TH, 2:00-3:00 p.m., & F, 10:20-11:20 a.m.; and by appointment . . . and email, of course::::
COURSE WEB PAGE(s): Both this SYLLABUS page and the course "NOTES"/Assignments page are accessible via Canvas, as are all course PDFs.


"The short story is fiction's sharpest axe, its most intense imaginative tool for breaking up the frozen seas of our individual isolation" (Gioia & Gwynn 5).

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.)
    Opportunities to achieve this outcome: Students will read a range of short stories in English (American, British, and/or non-English-language stories in translation), with the aim of analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating individual short stories, understanding individual stories in historical context, and understand the development of the short story form over time. The knowledge and vocabulary to carry out such analyses may be delivered through class lecture and discussion, as well as the reading of secondary materials, such as short story authors' own commentaries on their works and contemporary critical studies of the stories.
    Opportunities to demonstrate achievement of this outcome: Students will be asked to demonstrate their ability to analyze, interpret, and evaluate short stories both in writing and orally. All students will be required to write formal papers using appropriate evidence; these may take the form of close analyses of stories for which quotations and concrete details from the stories themselves are the primary evidence, and/or they may take the form of analyses drawing upon research into secondary materials. Students will also be required to write shorter informal response papers, make a class presentation, and take in-class exams.


• "ADULT LANGUAGE" disclaimer:::: Some of the class readings may contain graphic language that is neither prurient nor devoid of social & aesthetic purpose; if your particular social upbringing disallows you from tolerating such reading, please consider another course. No substitute readings will be offered, or allowed.

• 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 [1955]. 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):
        • The following texts USED to be reserved for your research-essay efforts. But given the fact that most students now avail themselves of digital materials, this has become "just" a list of relevant books available at the Love. (Unless another student has already checked out that book you wanted out, of course; but this way is still a superior option, I think, given the limited check-out time allowed for reserve texts.)::::::::
        • For many more secondary sources, in PDF format, see "Course Documents" in Canvas.
• Alexie, Sherman. Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories. New York: Grove Press, 2012.
• ---. Conversations with Sherman Alexie. Ed. Nancy J. Peterson. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1979.
• ---. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. New York: HarperPerennial, 1994.
• ---. Ten Little Indians. New York: Grove Press, 2003.
• ---. The Toughest Indian in the World. New York: Grove Press, 2000.
• ---. War Dances. New York: Grove Press, 2009.
• Brooks, Cleanth, and Robert Penn Warren. Understanding Fiction [1943]. 2nd ed. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1959.
    —This is the classic guide to approaching short fiction through a New Critical (that is, formalist) lens. The critical essays (formally, at least!) might also serve as useful models for how to write about literature, if you have limited experience in that practice. Finally, it could prove useful as a secondary source.
• O'Connor, Flannery. Collected Works. New York: Library of America, 1988.
• ---. Conversations with Flannery O'Connor. Ed. Rosemary M. Magee. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1987.
• ---. Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons. Ed. Kelly Gerald. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2012.
• ---. A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories. New York: Harcourt, 1955.
• ---. Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose. Ed. Sally and Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1969.

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.


AssignmentNumber of ~PointsTotal Points
Formal Essays2250500
Informal Responses360180
Pop Quizzes620120
Group Presentation1100100
Total:- - - - - - - -- - - -1,000
Final Point Total -> Final Grade:
970-1,000 = A+930-969 = A900-929 = A-- - - -
870-899 = B+830-869 = B800-829 = B-- - - -
770-799 = C+730-769 = C700-729 = C-- - - -
670-699 = D+630-669 = D600-629 = D-0-599 = F

    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:
  A: "You are to be applauded for 'going beyond' most or all of the required criteria in an outstanding fashion!"    8-)
  B: "Not only did you meet the required criteria but, for at least some of these criteria, you went 'beyond the call of duty' in some noteworthy manner!"    :-D
  C: "Okay! You fulfilled the required/minimum criteria for this component!"    :-)
  D: "You failed to meet at least some of the minimum criteria for this component."    :-(
  F: "Your lack of attention to the minimum criteria for this component reveals a basic misunderstanding of the assignment and/or a lack of class attendance."    :'-{

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.
        [Official SSD Statement:] Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) provides individualized academic support for students with documented disabilities. Support services can include extended test time, textbooks and handouts in alternative formats (electronic texts, Braille, taped texts, etc), classroom notes, sign language interpreters, and transcriptionists. SSD not only accommodates students that have visible disabilities, but students with other varying types of disabilities that impact college life. If you have a documented disability that is impacting your academic progress, please call SSD at 472-3787 and schedule an appointment. If you do not have a documented disability but you are having difficulties with your coursework (such as receiving low grades even though you study more than your classmates or find you run out of time for test questions when the majority of your peers finish their exams in the allotted time), you may schedule an appointment to discuss the challenges you are experiencing.


    (—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)
    —(All p. #'s refer to our main anthology—The Art of the Short Story—unless otherwise indicated.)

WEEK 2 (. . . Sept. 4th, 6th):: Gogol: "The Overcoat" (311-331); Hawthorne: "Young Goodman Brown" (348-357)
    —Also, for all stories in Gioia & Gwynn, the author introductions (before each story) are highly recommended, of course.

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)
    • FR: Response #1 DUE

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)
    • FR: Response #2 DUE

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)
    • W: own topic (if desired) for Essay #1 due

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)
    M: ESSAY #1 DUE

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); Carver: "Cathedral" (77-87); Atwood: "Happy Endings" (22-24); Cisneros: "Barbie-Q" (160-162); Ellison: "A Party Down At The Square" (218-222)
    • WEDNESDAY, midnight (via email): Group Presentation story choice DUE—IF you want to present an O'Connor story (all stories except "A Circle in the Fire" & "A Late Encounter w/ the Enemy" are available, unless another group choses it first). [Also: only THREE groups can do an O'Connor story; 1st come, 1st served.)

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
    • MONDAY, midnight (via email): Group Presentation story choice DUE—an Alexie story from the list below is now your only option (all stories on the table-list below are available, unless another group choses it first).
    • FR: Response #3 DUE

Alexie's Blasphemy--SELECTED assigned readings, arranged in chronological order:
• From The Lone Ranger & Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993): "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" (75-90); "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" (160-169); "The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor" (170-185); "Because My Father Always Said . . ." (217-228); "Indian Education" (285-293)
• From The Toughest Indian in the World (2000): "Assimilation" (330-350)
• From Ten Little Indians (2003): "Do You Know Where I Am?" (264-284); "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" (437-464)
• From War Dances (2009): "War Dances" (42-74); "Breaking and Entering" (250-263); "Salt" (312-329)
New/uncollected stories (2012; that is, first published in Blasphemy): "Green World" (16-21); "Gentrification" (294-299); "Faith" (303-311); "Basic Training" (421-436)

WEEK 13 (Nov. 18th, 20th, 22nd):: Alexie (continued); begin group presentation planning

WEEK 14 (Nov. 25th . . .):: Alexie (continued); group pres. planning
    • M: own topic (if desired) for Essay #2 due

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.
    • "M": ESSAY #2 DUE

    ** ESSAY #1: The Short Story: Art & Ideology ** [but devise your own title!]    

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; in a pocket folder, with xeroxes of pages from 2ndary sources (including web pages) cited—and any primary source not on the syllabus (i.e., short story). (Xerox EXCEPTIONs: I don't need xeroxes from our texts, or from the books on reserve, or from the PDF[s] on Canvas.)

** DUE DATE: Monday, Oct. 14th (uploaded to CANVAS by midnight) **

* Content—60%—
150 pts.
—incl. quality & development of thought; support from primary & secondary sources; fulfillment of specific option requirements; also . . .    
    * to qualify for an "A" on Content: at least FOUR "non-web" legitimate "outside" (non-class-assigned) sources    
    * to qualify for a "B" on Content: at least TWO "non-web" legitimate "outside" (non-class-assigned) sources    
Note on "non-web" Legitimate Sources: these do include good'n'valid print sources that have been made available on the web, as in online newspaper or academic-journal articles (available via searches in MLAB, EBSCO, etc.)—and, of course, any academically legitimate web source, for that matter. I'm just drawing the line at pages of questionable repute, such as "Jim-Bob's Eddie Allan Poe Fan Page" and "My High School Essay on Symbolizm in Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottry'" (most likely NOT good sources). . . . But I still need printouts of sasid sources: JUST the page[s] that you quote/paraphrase. . . . To make things easier, the authors' own critical/autobiographical excerpts that follow their respective stories can be used (and be counted) as "outside" sources. But document them as separate Works Cited entries. Also considered "outside" is the 2nd short story in options #1 or #5, if it is a non-class-assigned story. 
* Organization—20%—
50 pts.
—incl. effective intro & coda; body cohesion/"flow," via clear org. strategies    
* Grammar, Mechanics, & Format—20%—
50 pts.
—incl. spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, & MLA format    
    (incl. in-text parenthetical citations & Works Cited page; non-"plagiarism" in handling of sources)    

* 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!):

Gannon 7

Works Cited

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.


    ** ESSAY #2: The CATHOLIC & The INDIAN **    

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 we're 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 2 weeks 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

** DUE DATE: "Monday, Dec. 9th" (uploaded to CANVAS by midnight) **

* Content60%—
150 pts.
—incl. quality & development of thought; support from primary & secondary sources; fulfillment of specific option requirements; also . . .    
    * to qualify for an "A" on Content: at least FOUR legitimate 2ndary sources    
    * to qualify for a "B" on Content: at least TWO legitimate 2ndary sources    
Note on 2ndary Sources: Veritable critical/scholarly "outside" sources (print, online, etc.) will be greeted with much more positive regard than uses of critical apparati from the G&G anthology, or non-scholarly "fluff" sources. (It boils down to both effort and knowing how to engage w/ 2ndary sources in the field of English.)
* Organization—20%—
50 pts.
—incl. effective intro & coda; body cohesion/"flow," via clear org. strategies
    Note: as a former longtime Composition teacher, I love & encourage interesting first & last paragraphs. Plain "forecasting" intros & (especially) plain "summarizing" codas bore me to death. Think style; think of your essay as as much a "work of art" as the short stories we're reading.
* Grammar, Mechanics, & Format—20%—
50 pts.
—incl. spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, & MLA format    
    (incl. in-text parenthetical citations & Works Cited page; non-"plagiarism" in handling of sources)    


    * O'Connor & Alexie: Small-Group Presentation Guidelines    

ENGL 303:001—Fall 2019

* ASSIGNMENT: The assignment for each group is, first of all, to plan a 20-25-minute group presentation of your group's selected story from O'Connor or Alexie. Next, decide on a general "tack"/angle for your presentation: sure, it can be a dry let's-take-turns-tellin'-em-our-thoughts method. If so, at least divide your presentation by sub-topics/sub-"themes" that each student will explore. (See my categorical breakdowns of previous stories on the NOTES page for what I have in mind here. As one example, the NAMES in the various O'Connor stories might provide one student fodder for an entire sub-presentation.) BETTER, more "creative," ideas are listed below. . . . Make sure to delegate individual parts/tasks/roles, allowing each student approx. the same amount of time to "do his/her thing." (Note that a good percentage of your 100 points involves your individual "sub"-presentation.)

* TOPICs: In developing (& dividing among you) presentation "topics"/sub-topics, you can certainly think in terms of the story's various formal devices/techniques; or you can think of various critical approaches to your text; or you can think of various issues/"themes" that the story involves. Or—? (If you're still lost here, you haven't been at least skimming the subheadings I've employed in my own "outlines" of the stories of the NOTES page.)

* Note on PLANNING: you will be given (parts of) several class periods for presentation planning, but you may well also want to communicate via email; feel free to avail yourselves of the Canvas GROUPS for that.

* Some (Better) Ideas (than Straight Exposition):

1) You might FIRST have the rest of us do some individual prewriting, or small-group brainstorming, to a prompt supplied by you. Or ask us all a set of questions you've drawn up. (This might include a brief YouTube vid., etc.) In other words, you can elicit our initial reactions to the short story (and/or its "issues") before you start your spiel. (Please limit this activity to about 5 minutes, however.)

2) A "dramatized" presentation has earned the best scores for students in the past: thus I've seen groups arrange their presentation around an imaginary TV talk or game (e.g., Jeopardy), or a news or talk show (a talk show involving the author might be very interesting?!); they've put on mock trials; they've employed "crazy" visual aids; they've even dramatized the literary work itself. But be sure to use such creative scenarios as frames within which each of you can "get down to business" in presenting the nuts'n'bolts content of your part of the presentation. Also, a PowerPoint or Prezi might be a good way to combine, then present, your group's effort.

3) Finally, a mandatory (≈5-minute) Q&A session AFTER your presentation will follow. I might ask a question or two to get the ball rolling, but above all, it's a chance both for you to expand upon your "learnèd" interpretation and for the rest of the class to improve their participation grades—and to give you a generally hard time?! . . .

—At last, with ≈5 minutes for #1 with ≈5 minutes for #3, you should easily be able to fill the other 10-15 minutes with 2- to 3-minute "mini-presentations" from each member of your group. Since I'm squeezing two groups into two of our class periods, time considerations require that we start right away on those days, and so the 1st group should arrive at least a bit early to get any required A-V stuff, etc., set up. Also, I'll have to stop the first group at exactly 11:55 on those two days.

* Group Planning Days (at least part of the following class periods):
    —Of could you'll also likely want to communicate w/ other group members via Canvas.
  —M, Nov. 25th: initial tentative strategy brainstorming
  —M, Dec. 2nd: work on presentation strategy/logistics; presentation ORDER determination
  —W, Dec. 4th: finalize presentation strategy/logistics

** Group Presentations:
• FR, Dec. 6th (1 group)
• M, Dec. 9th (2 groups)
• W, Dec. 11th (2 groups)
• FR, Dec. 13th (1 group)

    —ORDER for groups to be determined by LOTS.
(Note to "audience members": these are also "big days" for your participation grade!?)

* Content40 pts.
—quality of your individual "sub-presentation"
    * incl. outline (≈ 1-page?—with any documented sources—**due at the beginning of class**)
* Individual Effort in Group20 pts.
—that is, individual input towards the group presentation (especially attendance on planning days; and—"I have ears"!)    
* General Group Effort20 pts.
—group planning, synchronization, and creativity of presentation    
* Engagement of Others/Q&A20 pts.
—(group) engagement of the rest of us during presentation; (individual) handling of questions afterwards    

        • Note: I'm not designating any specific penalty for individual presentations that are too short due to lack of effort and/or student engagement; but your lack of effort will be reflected, certainly, in your "Content" and "Individual" scores. . . .

        • Note on the OUTLINE: If the group is doing a coordinated "skit," etc., that works best as one document, I will accept one extended "outline" from the whole group. (In fact, this has become the preferred way to go, for most recent group presentations.) But please indicate who did what, unless it is safe to assume that you did the stuff you present/read for the presentation. (Again, be clear & assertive about your contributions; it is worth 40 pts. of the 100. Also, I don't want a hodgepodge of "here's our script" & then, from a few individual students, "but here's my real/individual outline, Tom; wink, wink." Choose one option or the other.)
        I would even accept a (legible) printout of a PowerPoint here; however, it should include all the "text" that any/all students are working from. And in all cases, I don't want, say, a half-page outline from a student, who then has three pages of notes s/he is working from "on stage." There should be a one-to-one correspondence.

        • Finally, try to get to class on the day of your presentation, if at all possible: not only would your absence leave your fellow group members in the lurch, but the make-up'll be—well, to quote King Lear, "I will do such things,— / What they are yet I know not, but they shall be / The terrors of the earth!"

KEY to Correction Symbols/Abbrevs. I Commonly Use on Your Essays:
!great (or hilarious) point
>good point; "yeh, I'm followin' yu'"
?unclear; suspect point; "yu' lost me here"
cscomma splice: Subject+Predicate , Subject+Predicate
awkawkward grammatical/sentence structure
wwwrong word (denotation)
wcword choice (connotation)
/space needed here; especially between the "dots" in ellipses:
NOT: "I came...I conquered...."
INSTEAD: "I came . . . I conquered. . . ."
(If MS WORD auto-removes your spaces, I think you can turn off that reprehensible function in the "Auto-Correct" Preferences [or somethin' like that—sounded good to a Bill-Gates-o-phobe like me].)
paragraph break needed
transtransition needed
cohecohesion problem ("jumbled" or "abrupt" thoughts/sentences/paragraphing)
[others:]I can't reproduce here the "insert" and "delete" symbols that I also commonly use, but they should be intuitively obvious in their context.
Note on the DASH:A dash is not a single hyphen; use two hyphens, or a real "em" dash, with no spaces before or after:
NOT: "I - uh - love you."
INSTEAD: "I--uh--love you."
OR: use a real "em" dash ("I—uh—love you"): option/shift/hyphen on a Mac ("Windoz, I know nuttin'.")
Note on Lit./Media TITLES:The general rule is that works that are a "whole" (book titles, etc.) are italicized or underlined (e.g., Moby Dick) and works that are "part" of a whole (e.g., individual poems from a collection, etc.) are put within quot. marks (e.g., "Dover Beach"). The former—that is, italicized—include books, plays, magazine and journal titles (e.g., Newsweek), movies, CDs, and TV shows. The latter—that is, in quots.—include book chapter titles, essays, poems, songs, and TV episodes. (You may underline book titles, etc., rather than italicize them, but do one or the other throughout your essay.) Finally, your OWN essay title should be neither underlined or in quots.; emphasize it instead via bold type and/or caps if you so desire.
Finally:I have a bad habit of grading papers while standing up or pacing the floor, so if you can't read any of my comments, please ask me. . . . Further note: the "substandard" representation of dashes and ellipses (in isolation) probably won't cost yu' even a single point in my evaluation of your grammar/mechanix. But I'd think of the bigger picture: doing these little things right in your later academic and business writing will let your peers & superiors know that, yes, you know the fine points of that "grand game" called a college education.

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 Class Notes/Commentary

 TCG's Lit Crit/Theory (Resource) Page

ENGL 303 SYLLABUS Page--Fall 2019

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