Readings and Assignments


Note: Readings and assignments are due on the day they are listed on the syllabus. Changes or additions to the readings may occur throughout the semester. These will be announced in class.

An Introduction, Theoretically

“Literary theory is at its best when it helps us realize what we are really doing when we study literature.”

~Stephen Bonnycastle, In Search of Authority: An Introductory Guide to Literary Theory


M 8/26       Introduction to the course


W 8/28       Why theory in the English classroom? Appleman, Ch. 1



M 9/2        Labor Day, no classes


W 9/4        Textual Tours: Appleman, Ch. 2


Unifying the Work

“I learned to think of the literary text as an edifice. Almost as a temple. Complete, autonomous, organically whole, sacrosanct. We approached it with reverence. We might make temple rubbings and we were encouraged to explain how its arches carried its weight and to speculate on the organic relationship between its form and function. But it was an edifice and we were spectators before its splendors.”

~ Ben Nelms, Literature in the Classroom


M 9/9        New Criticism & Pedagogy: excerpt from Regents’ Diagnostic Exam; assign Judith Fetterley article summary (due 9/16)


W 9/11       New Criticism cont.-


Authorizing the Reader

“Interpretation is not the art of construing but the art of constructing. Interpreters do not decode [texts];

 they make them.” ~Stanley Fish, Is There a Text in This Class?


“I have a male mind with male experiences. Therefore I see things through the perception of a man. I couldn’t relate to some of Virginia Woolf’s view and I despised the way she pushed her view on the reader. This was brought on by my masculinity, I feel.” ~Bill, Grade 12, after reading A Room of One’s Own


M 9/16       Reader Response: Appleman, Ch. 3. Begin The House on Mango Street (1-110)

Article Summary due


W 9/18       Reading and the ‘male mind’: Assenting and Resisting Readers: clip from Short Cuts and Mango Street cont.-.  Assign guidelines for Essay 1.



M 9/23       The House on Mango Street cont-.


W 9/25    Feminism: Appleman, Ch. 5. Mad About You episode / nature versus nurture exercise / basic questions of feminism.


A Lens of One’s Own: Gendering the Text

“Feminist criticism is a political act whose aim is not simply to interpret the world but to change it, by changing the consciousness of those who read and their relationship to what they read.”

~Judith Fetterley, The Resisting Reader


M 9/30       Theoretical Intersections: reader-response, feminism, & Mango Street 


W 10/2       Thesis and paragraph construction workshop.



The Graphic Classroom: Privilege, Social Class, and Pedagogy

“Ideology is less tenacious as a ‘set of ideas’ than as a system of representations, perceptions, and images that precisely encourages men and women to ‘see’ their specific place in a historically peculiar social formation as inevitable, natural…

there is no such thing as social discourse that is nonideological” ~James Kavanagh, “Ideology”


M 10/7       Bring a full draft of Essay #1. Assign guidelines for research paper and proposal.


W 10/9       Marxism: Appleman, Ch. 4. “Go West” campaign Ch. 4. Begin American Born Chinese. Assign midterm.

Essay 1 due



M 10/14     American Born Chinese cont.-; Assign guidelines for Essay #2.


W 10/16     American Born Chinese cont.-


F 10/18                  Last day to withdraw with a grade of W



A (dis)Course on Race and the Imperial I/Eye

“It makes little sense to define “ethnicity-as-such,” since it refers not to a thing-in-itself but to a relationship: ethnicity is typically based on a contrast…. Ethnic identity, seen this way, ‘is logically and historically the product of the

assertion that ‘A is an X because he is not a Y’ --a proposition which makes it remarkably easy to identify Xness.

By the same token, the definition of Xs as non-Ys threatens to exaggerate their

differences in such a way that if the Xs think of themselves as human,

 they may therefore consider the Y s as somehow nonhuman.” ~Werner Sollors, “Ethnicity”


M 10/21     Midterm Due—submit to my office by 2:00p.m.


W 10/23     Postcolonialism: Appleman, Ch. 6. Applications to American Born Chinese.



M 10/28     American Born Chinese cont.- / workshop ideas for Essay 2.


W 10/30     Peer Critique (full draft); **Note** you must bring a completed draft to participate; otherwise, you will be dismissed and counted absent for that day.



Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About: Using Literary Theory in the Classroom

“Critical theory ... is generated in and through classroom practice, rather than imported from without.” ~James F. Slevin


M 11/4       Appleman, Ch. 8 & 9. Discuss Pedagogy Project for final exam.

Essay 2 due


W 11/6       Literary research workshop.



M 11/11     Workshop on research proposal: samples, strategies, being conversant with secondary sources. Discuss documentation and plagiarism. Incorporating outside sources effectively.


W 11/13     Proposal Due / Documentation Guidelines Review.



M 11/18     Return and discuss proposals with peers and me. Work on research paper or final pedagogy project.


W 11/20     Drafting / composing. Work on research paper or pedagogy project.



M 11/25

                  } Thanksgiving Recess (Nov. 25-29); no classes

W 11/27



M 12/2       Peer review of Essay 3: Bring one polished copy of your paper. This should include your Works Cited page (due for a daily grade).


W 12/4       Last day of class: Research paper due / course evaluations.



2:00-3:20 classes ...............................Monday, Dec. 9, 2:00-4:30 pm

Pedagogy Project due upon arrival to final exam


Note well: Grades will be posted to BanWeb following the final exam period. I will not distribute grades via phone or email.