Using both practical and theoretical approaches to the interpretation of prose fiction, and with attention to the history and evolution of fictional forms to the extent that such knowledge enhances interpretation, we will devote the semester to reading, discussing, and writing about several short stories and one novel. Our range will run the ground of well established classic short stories, and there will be opportunities for studying short stories published as recently as the past decade or so. Students can expect to learn the terms associated with close analysis of fiction and to become familiar with some of the more important theoretical statements that have defined and shaped fiction. Detailed written responses to reading assignments will help students prepare for class and lead to more formal writing assignments.
1. Students will learn about the distinguishing characteristics of fiction and develop an appreciation of how fiction evolves into many diverse forms.
2. Students will develop an advanced critical facility in the formal analysis of fiction.
3. Students will be able to identify and use some of the most significant theories and methods that shape the contemporary study of fiction.
4. Students will read and analyze works of fiction written during different historical eras and from different national or cultural perspectives.
5. Students will demonstrate in both oral and written work a discipline-specific critical facility through convincing and well-supported analysis of related material.
6. Students will demonstrate their command of academic English and the tenets of sound composition by means of thesis-driven analytical prose.
7. Students will learn to use discipline-specific computer
related to the study of language such as listservs, word processing,
Requirements: a reading notebook, three short essays,
and research paper.
Some Policies, Expectations, and Other Important Information
The professional relationship
between an instructor and a student is not that of vendor and
One does not buy learning the way one
buys a car, a sound system, or a hamburger. Tuition and state funding buy professional direction and assistance to your own study as well as a fair and careful assessment of
your progress. They never buys the right not to attend class, to fail to complete assigned work on time, or to practice a radical individualism that distracts the instructor
and classmates with impunity. By agreeing to teach the class, I agree to provide the direction, assistance, and assessment. By enrolling in the class, you have
created obligations for yourself. If you do not meet them, you will not succeed.
Grades:Participation and Reading Notebook 20%
Reading Notebook: Beginning with the assignments for August 26, you will respond to the
questions on this rubric to prepare for
class. Use a loose-leaf binder. I will sometimes take up
the assignments. Reading
Rubric. A model is also provided. Other entries in
the Reading Notebook will be abstracts of critical articles assigned on
Wuthering Heights. Use
the example below as a model (your abstract may need to be longer
depending on the density of the argument in the article). Prepare
an abstract for on either Wion's "The Absent Mother in Wuthering
Heights" or Eagleton's "Myths of Power: A Marxist Study on Wuthering Heights." Be
prepared to turn the abstract in on October
21 . Then write a
second abstract on any of the remaining articles in the text to turn in
with your reading notebook on November
Mathison, John K. "Nelly Dean and the Power of Wuthering Heights." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 11. 106-29. Rpt. in
Wuthering Heights: An Anthology of Criticism. Ed. Alastair Everitt. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1967. 84-110.
Mathison argues that the power of the novel derives from the fact that the narrator, Nelly Dean, is too "normal" and "healthy" to comprehend the exorbitant passions and actions of characters such as Heathcliff and Catherine. The powerful effect on readers occur as they realize the inadequacy of the "normal" to interpret the deeper and truer feelings of the main characters and are forced to become active advocates for Heathcliff and Catherine in ways that could not occur with an omniscient narrator or a less admirable first-person narrator. It is in this power that Brontë has created a genuine work of art.
GRADING CRITERIA FOR ALL ENGLISH ESSAY ASSIGNMENTS 2000-LEVEL AND ABOVE
Note: A passing grade on any assignment first assumes competence in the mechanics of standard written English.
C To earn a “C,” a student must
• Respond to the constraints of the assignment.
• Focus on the topic.
• Provide a clear thesis.
• Maintain a tone appropriate for a scholarly audience.
• Order essay logically, from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, idea to idea.
• Provide sufficient evidence and detail throughout the essay.
• Have sufficient control of standard written English and MLA guidelines such that errors, including any in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and formatting, if present, do not cause serious confusion and/or distraction.
• Provide adequate, reliable, and relevant secondary documentation, where applicable.
• Demonstrate an understanding of context and purpose in relating secondary sources to paper’s claims/ideas.
• Exhibit nearly error-free incorporation of documentation into the body of the essay.
B To earn a “B,” a student must meet the minimum requirements
for a “C” essay plus
• Provide a well-framed and insightful thesis.
• Recognize complexities and show evidence of serious consideration of the topic.
• Support most points with appropriate, well-analyzed examples and intelligent arguments.
• Show logical development and organization throughout.
• Offer writing that is relatively free of grammatical and technical errors.
• Provide substantive and relevant documentation, where applicable, in support of most claims/ideas.
• Demonstrate a thorough understanding of context and purpose in relating secondary sources to paper’s claims/ideas where applicable.
• Exhibit error-free and varied incorporation of documentation into the body of the essay.
A To earn an “A,” a student must meet the minimum requirements for a “B” essay plus:
• Provide a sophisticated thesis that demonstrates independent thinking.
• Support all claims/ideas with appropriate, fully analyzed examples and compelling, insightful arguments.
• Show persuasive logical development and organization throughout.
• Maintain a distinctive voice and consistent viewpoint that incorporates interesting and varied style.
• Provide secondary sources, where applicable, that demonstrate independent research in the field.
• Enter into meaningful dialogue with secondary sources, such that the student is not just proving someone else’s point but developing original ideas in relation to research material.
D A “D” grade results from
• Failing to respond clearly to the assignment, or
• A lack of qualities listed under the minimum requirements for a “C,” or
• Insufficient control of standard written English, resulting in substantial errors that cause confusion or incoherence.
F An “F”
grade results from
• Two or more of the faults listed in “D” above.