English 2110-02: Survey of World Literature

"In the Labyrinth: Of Mazes, Monsters and the Search for Meaning"


Dr. Maria Doyle

Spring 2009: TR 11-12:15, Hum 208


Office and Phone: TLC 2-248, 678-839-4853

Email: mdoyle@westga.edu

Office Hours: TR 9:30-11, 2-3:30, T 5-6 and by appt.

Website: http://www.westga.edu/~mdoyle


Course Description: 

In the city of Crete the labyrinth was a maze built to hide the half-bull, half-human Minotaur, a monster that was evidence of the royal household's faithlessness. Both the labyrinth itself and the monster at its center have a multiple meanings – traveling the maze is a dangerous enterprise but navigating it successfully allows the traveler to unearth truths that can themselves be both dangerous and liberating. In this course, we will explore a variety of mazes, journeys into worlds of ghosts, monsters and mysteries, asking in the process what those journeys reveal about the complex and sometimes risky search for "truth." Readings will be drawn from a variety of time periods and cultural contexts, including the classical tradition of Greece and Rome as well as works from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America.


Students should familiarize themselves with the use of the CourseDen web interface, as materials for this course, including paper assignments and handouts, will be posted there. Students should also use their university email accounts to correspond with the professor.  


For information on learning outcomes and the course’s relationship to departmental program goals, see http://www.westga.edu/~engdept/fr/CourseGuid/2110.html.


Required Texts:

David Damrosch, et al., ed., The Longman Anthology of World Literature: Compact Edition

William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Longman edition; packaged with The Longman Anthology)

Dennis Tedlock, trans., Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life

Guillermo del Toro, dir., Pan's Labyrinth (students may rent or purchase a copy of the film or use the copy placed on reserve in the library)



 (1) Quizzes (20%): Students will complete several online quizzes over the course of the semester. Quizzes will spot check your understanding of the historical and literary issues discussed in the preceding weeks and will include a mix of paragraph and multiple-choice questions. Dates when quizzes will be made available are listed on the syllabus. Students may take the quiz any time within 24 hours of its posting; the instructions for each quiz will specify how long you have once you begin the quiz to complete it.


(2) Papers (45%): Students will complete two papers over the course of the semester on topics distributed in class, one 3-4 pages (15%) and the other 5-6 pages (25%). All papers will ask for thesis driven responses and will require students to support their ideas with clearly contextualized evidence from the assigned texts. Essays will be graded based on criteria in four major categories: argument, analysis, structure and presentation. I have scheduled a writing workshop early in the term to help clarify my expectations in these areas, and students will also complete a brief diagnostic writing assignment (5%) so that I can provide you with feedback and guidance as you approach the more formal writing assignments. This diagnostic assignment is available online and due Week 3; students will receive topics after they complete the Course Policy Quiz available on the CourseDen site (so the sooner you complete the quiz, the sooner you receive the assignment).  


(3) Final Exam (20%): The final exam will cover material from the entire course and will assess each student's ability to identify and discuss particular passages and/or images from the texts, apply terms and ideas discussed throughout the course, and synthesize, through a clearly argued essay, themes and concepts covered in our discussions. No makeup exams will be scheduled, and students who arrive late to exams will not be given extra time. The final exam will be scheduled for Tuesday, May 5 from 11-1; students should bring a bluebook to the exam.


(4) Class Participation (15%): Class participation – your preparation for class meetings and your willingness to contribute to our discussions – is an important component of your grade.  Consistent, punctual attendance is the minimum expected of all students, and after four absences, you will lose half a letter grade in this category for each additional class missed. You do not need to explain your absences to me – I understand that sometimes illness, childcare issues, uncooperative automobiles or unforeseen emergencies prevent you from coming to class – but use those allowed days for real emergencies, as I will not differentiate between “excused” and  “unexcused” absences. Doing well in class participation means more than just coming to class.  Students are further expected to have read the material carefully before class meetings, to listen attentively both to the instructor and to the comments other students make during discussions, to ask questions and offer ideas about the material and to respond thoughtfully to ideas presented both by the instructor and the other students.  


Additional Policies and Information:

All students must complete a brief course policy quiz in order to access the rest of the online assignments for the course. Thus you have until the date of the first online assignment to complete this quiz.


I do not give 'makeup' assignments, and unless an exceptional opportunity arises that is directly related to the course material, I do not offer 'extra credit' opportunities: you will all be assessed by the same methods on the same assignments. If you find that you are having trouble with the course material, adjust your study schedule, come to my office hours or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get help with your writing.


Special Needs: If you have a registered disability that will require accommodation, please see me at the beginning of the semester; I will be happy to discuss your situation. If you have a disability that you have not yet registered through the Disabled Student Services Office, please contact Dr. Ann Phillips in Student Development (678-839-6428).


Deadlines and Late Policy: Papers are due in the first ten minutes of class in hardcopy. Papers not received by this time will be considered late. My strictness regarding this particular policy stems from two considerations. First, if you are not in class, you are missing discussion and thus course material. In addition, it is disruptive to the class and distracting for both the instructor and other students to have others straggling in midway through the class period. Plan your schedule so that you can have papers printed and ready by the time class begins. No papers will be accepted over email.


A late penalty of one half of a letter grade will be assessed for each day that a paper is late. Papers that are more than four days late (including weekend days and holidays) will receive an automatic "F." Extensions will be granted only if you have a verifiable medical or other sufficiently serious ("seriousness" will be determined at the instructor's discretion) excuse and you request an extension (in person, via email or phone) before the paper deadline. Regardless of your situation, no extensions will be granted beyond the four-day late period. Having papers or exams for other classes, a schedule conflict with work or other responsibilities, or simply being "swamped" are not sufficiently serious excuses and will not result in your being granted an extension. Late penalties for papers turned in outside of class will be assessed based on when I receive the paper, since if you do not hand it to me directly, I cannot verify when you turned it in.


Paper Format: All papers should be typed, double-spaced, in a standard 12 point font (preferably Times New Roman) with 1" top/bottom margins and 1-1.25" left/right margins. Big fonts, extra spaces between your paragraphs, and large margins are pretty easy to spot, so stick to the standard size guidelines and use the revision process to help you generate enough information to present a clear and well-reasoned analysis within the designated space limitations. Papers are required to have inline citations where appropriate and a descriptive title (i.e. not "The Odyssey" but "Educating the Hero in The Odyssey"), and you must number your pages and staple (NOT paper clip, glue, or origami fold) them together. Title pages are unnecessary; simply include your name, the course number and the date in the top right corner of your first page.


Outside Sources and Academic Dishonesty: Academic dishonesty involves any attempt on your part to claim ideas and/or specific phrasing that you have gotten from elsewhere – including, but not limited to, Wikipedia, the dictionary, The New York Times, Sparknotes, an article you found that just sounds "better" than you think you could say it or your Aunt Sally – as your own or to fabricate sources or evidence so as to make your argument sound stronger. Plagiarism thus includes actions such as copying papers or online responses from the internet or other sources, cheating on exams, turning in work written by someone else or turning in work that you previously submitted for another course. All work that you turn in for this course must be your work completed in this semester in response to an assignment for this class; course assignments are designed to help you develop a set of skills, not just produce information, and failure to do your own work both shortchanges you in this skill development process – rather like attempting to play basketball or sculpt a piece of wood without mastering the dribble or learning about your tools – and violates the shared trust of this course. Academic dishonesty is a serious offense, and plagiarizing any assignment or part thereof, regardless of the relative value of the assignment in the calculation of your course grade, will result in failure of the course. In keeping with departmental and university honor policies, all cases of academic dishonesty will be reported both to the Chair of the English Department and to the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. In short, do your own work and when you use outside information, provide accurate citations for it. For more on the English Department's plagiarism policy, see http://www.westga.edu/~engdept/Plagiarism/pladef.html.


Schedule of Readings and Assignments:

Students should have completed the assigned readings by the dates they are listed on the syllabus. Readings in The Longman Anthology will be noted as LA. This schedule represents my current plan for the course; circumstances throughout the semester may necessitate some revisions, which will be announced in class and posted to the CourseDen page.


Navigating the Maze: Tales and Foundations

Thursday, Jan 8:          Introduction: The Idea of the Labyrinth (Ovid, "The Minotaur: Daedelus and Icarus" from Metamorphoses [LA 789-791])

Tuesday, Jan 13:          Lecture and discussion: Homer, The Odyssey, Books 5-12 (LA: 248-345)            

Thursday, Jan 15:        Lecture and discussion: The Odyssey, Books 13-24 (LA: 345-489)

Tuesday, Jan 20:          Assignment: Online writing assignment (topics available on CourseDen; students must have completed the online policy quiz in order to access the topics)

Thursday, Jan 22:        Lecture and discussion: Finish discussion of The Odyssey

Tuesday, Jan 27:          Lecture and discussion: Ovid, "Tiresias," "Narcissus and Echo," "Orpheus and Eurydice," "Orpheus's Song," "Orpheus's Death" (LA: 779-784, 791-798)

                                             Assignment: Quiz #1 available

Thursday, Jan 29:        Writing Workshop

Tuesday, Feb 3:            Lecture and discussion: The Ramayana of Valmiki (LA: 609-648)

Thursday, Feb 5:          Lecture and discussion: Continue discussion of The Ramayana of Valmiki

Tuesday, Feb 10:         Lecture and discussion: The Thousand and One Nights (LA: 1099-1151)

Thursday, Feb 12:       Lecture and discussion: Continue discussion of The Thousand and One Nights

                                             Assignment: Paper #1 due in class

Tuesday, Feb 17:         Lecture and discussion: Popol Vuh, Parts 1-3 (Tedlock: 63-142)

Thursday, Feb 19:       Lecture and discussion: Popol Vuh, Part 4 (Tedlock: 145-175)

                                             Assignment: Quiz #2 available


The Philosophical Maze

Tuesday, Feb 24:         Lecture and discussion: Dante, Inferno

Thursday, Feb 26:       Lecture and discussion: Dante, Inferno

Tuesday, Mar 3:           Lecture and discussion: Dante, Inferno        

Thursday, Mar 5:         Lecture and discussion: Plato, Apology

Tuesday, Mar 10:        Lecture and discussion: Matsuo Basho, Narrow Road of the Deep North (LA: 1895-1908)

                                             Assignment: Quiz #3 available

Thursday, Mar 12:      Lecture and discussion: William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Act 1)

Tuesday, Mar 17:        Spring break

Thursday, Mar 19:      Spring break

Tuesday, Mar 24:        Lecture and discussion: William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Acts 2-3)

Thursday, Mar 26:      Lecture and discussion: Shakespeare, Hamlet (Acts 4-5)

Tuesday, Mar 31:        Lecture and discussion: Finish discussion of Hamlet

Thursday, Apr 2:         Lecture and discussion: Johann Wilhelm Goethe, Faust, Part I (LA: 2036-2088)              

Tuesday, Apr 7:           Lecture and discussion: Goethe, Faust, Part I (LA: 2088-2118)

Thursday, Apr 9:         Lecture and discussion: Finish discussion of Faust

                                             Assignment: Quiz #4 available

Tuesday, Apr 14:         Lecture and discussion: Jorge Luis Borges, "The Garden of Forking Paths," "The Library of Babel," "Borges and I" (LA: 2629-2642)

Thursday, Apr 16:       Writing Day; no class meeting, although individual conferences may be scheduled

Tuesday, Apr 21:         Lecture and discussion: Pan's Labyrinth

                                             Assignment: Paper #2 due in class

Thursday, Apr 23:       Lecture and discussion: Pan's Labyrinth

Tuesday, Apr 28:         Lecture and discussion: Course Wrap-up

Tuesday, May 5:          Final exam, 11-1; bring a bluebook.