Atwood, Margaret. Wilderness Tips: Stories. NY: Doubleday, 1998.
Finch, Annie, ed. A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women. Ashland, Oregon: Storyline Press, 1994.
James, Henry. Portrait of a Lady. NY: Oxford World’s Classics, 1998.
Kushner, Tony. Angels in America—Part One: Millenium Approaches. NY: Theatre Communications Group, 1993.
Maraire, J. Nozipo. Zenzele. NY: Delta, 1996.
Richter, David. Falling into Theory. 2nd ed. NY: St. Martin’s, 1999.
Suskind, Ron. A Hope in the Unseen. NY: Broadway,
Aug. 30: Introduction
Sept. 4: Atwood, "True Trash" & "The Bog Man"; Richter, 15-48; quiz 1
Sept. 6: Atwood, "The Bog Man" & The Age of Lead"; Richter, 48-59; 84-95; student leaders: ________ & ________
Sept. 11: Atwood, "Death by Landscape" & "Uncles"; Richter, 95-119; quiz 2
Sept. 13: Atwood, "Weight" & "Hack Wednesday"; Richter, 121-146; student leaders:
________ & _________
Sept. 18: James, 19-113; Richter, 152-164; quiz 3
Sept. 20: Finch, Introduction & readings 1-2; Richter, 301-308; student leaders: ________ & ________
Sept. 25: James, 114-207; Richter, 198-210; quiz 4
Sept. 27: Finch, readings 3-4; Richter, 210-218; 224-233; student leaders: ________ &
Oct. 2: James, 208-311; quiz 5; draft of paper 1 ("my story/my project") due, plus two copies
Oct. 4: Finch, readings 5-6; student leaders: ________ & ________; story/project presentations
Oct. 6: Revision of paper 1 due in my office by 4:00
Oct. 9: James, 312-417; quiz 6; student leaders: _________ & _________; identity/proposal presentations, cont.
Oct. 11: Finch, readings 7-8; Richter, 235-252; student leaders: _________ & ________
Oct. 16: James, 418-516; film, "Howards End" (British, 1992; dir. James Ivory; screenplay by Ruth Prawar Jhabvala based on the novel by E.M. Forster )
Oct. 18: film, cont.; Richter, 267-288
Oct. 23: fall break
Oct. 25: James, 517-628; quiz 7; Finch readings 9-10; student leaders ________ & __________
Oct. 30: Maraire, 1-71; Richter, 188-198; quiz 8
Nov. 1: Maraire, 72-133; Richter, 60-67; 323-333; student leaders: _________ & _________
Nov. 6: Maraire, 134-194; Richter, 174-182; 309-322
Nov. 8: Kushner (whole play); Richter, 182-188; student leaders: _________ &
Nov. 13: Suskind, chap. 1-3; Richter, 349-354; quiz 10
Nov. 15: Suskind, chap. 4-6; seminar paper abstract & draft of part one due, plus 1 copy
Nov. 20: Suskind, chap. 7-9; Richter, 355-365; quiz 11; student leaders: __________ &
Nov. 22: Thanksgiving break
Nov. 27: Suskind, chap. 10-12; Richter, 377-389; quiz 12
Nov. 29: Suskind, chap. 13-epilogue; project presentations
Dec. 4: Project presentations
Dec. 6: Project presentations; final revision of seminar paper due, plus one copy
Dec. 7: Senior Seminar Open House, Moseley 215, 7:30
Dec. 11: take-home final exam due at 6:00 PM
Course objectives and requirements:
In this seminar, we will examine current controversies about what, why, and how we read. How literary value is determined will be one focus of the course: how do we decide which books and authors are worth our time and attention? We will examine the social, historical, and political mechanisms (ranging from popular culture forces such as Oprah’s Book Club and film adaptations of literary works to more elite methods such as inclusion in college anthologies) that shape the literary canon.
In addition to exploring the complexities of canon formation and the debates surrounding what we should read, we will also investigate, evaluate, and generate theories of why and how we read. Is it ethically responsible and useful to be reading fiction in a world with real problems (ethnic wars in Africa and Eastern Europe, rising suicide rates among American teenagers, the melting of Antarctica, etc.) that are begging for solutions? Why do critical traditionalists (those who favor "objective" formalist, historical, and biographical approaches) frequently denounce ideological (Marxist and feminist), sociological (New Historical) and subjective (reader-response) approaches? We’ll tackle these and related questions.
This course is designed as a capstone experience that will require you to integrate and extend the skills and knowledge that you have acquired in previous literature courses. In particular, it will promote your:
Although you’ll be especially responsible for initiating and sustaining discussion on the days when you’re leading class, you should contribute to every seminar session. Talking about literature is fun and rewarding, and developing the quality and quantity of your contributions to discussions is a central aim of this course. You must: bring questions and concerns to class; offer original ideas and responses to the literary and critical texts; challenge statements made by others (teacher included) that seem off-base and support those that seem on-target; make classmates comfortable and draw ideas from them. Above all, you must listen to one another. You can’t contribute meaningfully to a conversation unless you’re attentively following it.
Prepare for leading by brainstorming for questions that will focus discussion on particularly interesting, important, or puzzling aspects of that day’s reading. You must deal with both the literary and critical texts assigned for your class session. Ideally, some of your questions will invite us to put theory into practice. Use any strategies (divide the class into workshop groups, organize dramatic representations, etc.) that will help us to understand authors and critics. Strive to vary the format of the class so we don’t get stuck in a rut.
A short (2-page) paper is due on the days that you lead. In this paper you should: a) pose questions that we should consider as a group; b) provide rationales for these questions—that is, explain why they’re important. Do not answer your own questions—nothing kills a discussion faster. The "discussion prep" paper for your 60-minute session should be prepared collaboratively with your partner. The discussion paper on the Finch poet is an individual endeavor.
Your audience for this proposal is the entire class. You will present the proposal in a seminar session to get reactions and advice from the class. This will also be your chance to attract a partner, if you’re proposing a project that requires teamwork.
Recommended length for this paper is 5 pages. Failure to meet these October deadlines will result in a lowering of your final grade on the final revision (by one full letter grade for each day the draft or revision is overdue).
Abstract and draft of part one: These are due November 15, so that you can meet the deadline for submitting a proposal to NCUR (National Conference for Undergraduate Research). Applications to present at both NCUR and SURF (Elon’s Student Undergraduate Research Conference) require an abstract, which I’ll describe more fully in class. I strongly encourage you to participate in one or both of these conferences. The experience is valuable and it looks great on your resume.
By this point, your research should be nearly completed and the draft should be at least 8-10 solid pages. Your thesis and the main lines of your argument should be clear in this draft¾ otherwise your peer critic and I will be unable to give you useful advice. Since the final paper will be long (16-20 pages), you may want to divide it into sections with subtitles and submit the completed first sections for this deadline.
Failure to attend the November 15 peer conference with a completed abstract and a substantial draft will lower your grade on the final revision by a full letter grade.
Final revisions (plus one full copy for peer review) are due on the last day of class, December 6. No late papers can be accepted.
Project presentations will be 25 minutes in length. You should actively engage the class: aim for dialogue rather than monologue. You may find it useful to assign a brief reading so that we can prepare for a discussion of your topic. I can charge duplication to the department if you get the original to me three class days before your presentation.
Research project: 55%
Final exam: 10%