English 2120-25H

Fall 2010, MW 2-3:15, Pafford 308

Survey of British Literature: "Center and Margin"


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

Email: mdoyle@westga.edu

Office Hours: Wednesday 5-6 pm and Thursday 10 am-noon, 1-3 pm and by appt.

Virtual Office Hours: T 9 am-noon (log in to CourseDen and use the chat function)

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


Course Description:

The British literary tradition begins with a story of movement between center and periphery, with the hero Beowulf called to banish a monstrous outsider and restore the peace of a kingdom that is not his own. Thus, motion complicates the idea of the center – the site of cultural and political authority – and the margin – that which is considered outside, other, even monstrous. This negotiation raises questions about how we define these poles and how they influence one another, and this course will explore how writers throughout the British tradition, from earlier canonical authors to more recent multicultural voices, have used this idea of travel to examine questions of cultural authority and to define their relationship to the idea of Britishness.


A catalog description and learning outcomes for this course can be found online at http://www.westga.edu/~engdept/fr/CourseGuid/2120.html.


All handouts will be posted to the CourseDen course site, so be sure to check there if you miss a class, since, "I wasn't in class the day we discussed X" will not be considered an acceptable excuse for not keeping up with material or for turning in work late. Students should also use their university email accounts or the CourseDen email function to correspond with me. Students who have questions or want to consult about assignments are also welcome to attend office hours or to use the virtual office hours on Tuesdays.



(1) Writing Journal (25%): This is an ongoing writing project that students will complete in sections over the course of the semester. Instructions for each section are available on the CourseDen page. The journal is designed to engage students in ongoing critical analysis of the course texts in preparation for the final writing project.


(2) Analytical Essay (25%): Students will complete an independent writing project on a topic of their choosing for this course. This final product of this project will be a formal 7-8 page paper setting out the student's own thesis-driven analysis of one text (or a related pair of texts) from the course syllabus. Students should note that this is not a research paper: the goal is to allow you to develop and elaborate an argument about how a particular text works on your own without relying on or incorporating external material. If you take upper level English courses, you will be asked to write analytical research papers, and being able to develop and sustain your own analysis in a project such as this one will help you complete stronger research papers when you get to that point; whether or not you take more English courses, the paper is designed to help you hone your skills of analysis, organization and argumentation. To help students develop their project ideas, this final project will be preceded by a 300-word proposal that outlines the project idea and sets out the general direction for the larger paper. I will provide students with written feedback and suggestions on their proposal to help guide you in putting together the final paper.


(3) Midterm (15%) and Final Exams (25%): Exams will ask students to identify and discuss passages, define terms, discuss significant events/stages in the development of British literature and analyze specific themes and ideas as they appear in the literary works on the syllabus. Students should also be able to discuss the historical and theoretical contexts covered in class. Exams will include short response and essay sections. No makeup exams will be scheduled, and students who arrive late to exams will not be given extra time.


(4) Class Preparation and Participation (10%): 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:

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).


Cell Phones: Please turn cell phones off when you enter the classroom. Your time during class is committed to the class, and you may check messages outside of class hours.


Outside Sources and Academic Honesty: 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 (including word-for-word copying and paraphrasing without citation), 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, is grounds for 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.

* Students should append a signed copy of the following honor statement to their first online discussion posting and final paper for the course: "I have read the course statement on academic honesty, and I pledge that all material I will submit for credit in this class is my own work."


Deadlines and Late Policy: The writing journals that are due in class 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.


For journals, a late penalty of one half of a letter grade will be assessed for each day they are late. Journals 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.


For the final project, no late papers will be accepted, nor will papers be accepted over email. You have fifteen weeks to plan and complete this assignment; make sure that you get it in on time.


Paper Format: Your final paper 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 "Dubliners" but "Images of Darkness in Dubliners"), and you must number your pages and staple (NOT paper clip, glue, or origami fold) them together. Include your signed honor statement at the end of your text.


Schedule of Readings and Assignments:

Students should have completed all reading assignments by the date they are listed on the syllabus. 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.


Unit 1: The King's Court

M         8/16     Introduction: Center, Margin and the Translation of Beowulf

W        8/18     Beowulf (trans., Heaney): pp. 1-131


M         8/23     Beowulf (trans., Heaney): pp. 131-213

W        8/25     Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (trans., O'Donoghue): Sections I-II/pp. 3-36      


M         8/30     Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (trans., O'Donoghue): Sections III-IV/pp. 37-78

W        9/1       Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Idylls of the King: "The Coming of Arthur" through "Merlin and Vivien"


M         9/6       LABOR DAY

W        9/8       The Idylls of the King: "Lancelot and Elaine" through "The Passing of Arthur"


M         9/13     Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot: Acts 1-2

W        9/15     Continue discussion of Godot


Unit 2: The Domestic Center

M         9/20     William Shakespeare, Othello: Acts 1-2

                        Writing journal, Pt. 1 due

W        9/22     Othello: Acts 3-4


M         9/27     Othello: Act 5

W        9/29     Midterm


M         10/4     John Donne, from Selected Poems: Songs and Sonnets, pp. 3-56

W        10/6     John Donne, from Selected Poems: Divine Poems, pp. 173-199

                        Last day to withdraw with a W


M         10/11   George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

W        10/13   George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

Th-F    10/14-15          FALL BREAK


M         10/18   George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

W        10/20   George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss


Unit 3: The Journey Out

M         10/25   John Milton, Paradise Lost: Books I-IV

                        Writing journal, Pt. 2 due

W        10/27   Paradise Lost: Books VIII-IX, XI-XII


M         11/1     Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels: Part I (Lilliput)

W        11/3     Gulliver's Travels: Part IV (The Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos)


M         11/8     Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: http://etext.virginia.edu/stc/Coleridge/poems/Rime_Ancient_Mariner.html

W        11/10   Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness: Ch. I-II and The Congo Diary

Th        11/11   Project proposals due electronically (email to mdoyle@westga.edu) by 5:00 pm


M         11/15   Heart of Darkness: Ch. III

W        11/17   Salman Rushdie, East, West: Sections I and II ("East" and "West")

                        Writing journal, Pt. 3 due


M         11/22   East, West: Section III ("East/West")



M         11/29   Writing Day: No class meeting

W        12/1     Final lecture and exam review; final essays due in class


M         12/6     Final exam, 2-4 pm; bring a bluebook