St. Thomas University
Dept. of English
Introduction to Literature:

Section: 1006J

Instructor: A. Dence
T Th: 11:30 -12:50
Rm. 205 George Martin Hall
Tel: at home 474 -1416

Literature is public domain, i.e. it is not reserved for academic or cultural elite. Story, verse and myth have always entertained, inspired, educated and enlightened the masses of ordinary people. It is simply impossible to imagine a time or place where stories were not a daily staple of everyone's experience. We simply can not live without them. This course will explore the importance of literature to our humanity - to our understanding and awareness of us as a race and as individuals in a society.

To that end we will examine J.R.R. Tolkein's trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, a text often considered popular literature, which is rich in allusions to almost all significant western myths, Christian and Greek. As well, we will study Hamlet, which currently is usually considered "literature" but which was once also simply popular entertainment. We will study various poems and stories in the course text as well as reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald as an example of the novel reflecting its "zeitgeist".

Reading literature is responding to literature, to engage both the text itself and participate in the ongoing conversation around a text. Written responses to the texts we will be discussing will take the form of several short essays which we will outline in class.


Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, ed. Robert DiYanni, McGraw-Hill, Toronto
Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein, Harper/Collins, New York, NY
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Scribner's, New York, NY

Mark breakdown:

4 formal essays worth 70% of your final mark:

1. due: October 18th 2005 500 words -10%
2.   November 24th 2005 500 words -15%
3.   February 00 2006 500 words -15%
4.   March 00 2006 750 words - 20%

Two exams:

1. Dec. worth 10%
2. April worth 20%

You are expected to contribute to class discussion. Your ideas, opinions, questions and comments are critically important as education is two-way. Much of the business of thinking and writing is facilitated by discussion.

Examinations (10% & 20%):

There will be a compulsory two-hour mid-year test in the regular December examination period, as well as a compulsory two-hour final examination in April (the final exam will be based on the second term.)

1. All examinations are 'closed book' (that is, with nothing brought into the room save pens/pencils).
2. The examination format will require students to identify and explain specific passages from course material, as well as to write essay answers. Regular attendance and keeping up with the readings will be central to success
3. The examinations will be marked on both the understanding shown of the literature and the writing skills demonstrated.


Students are expected to have no more than 4 unexplained absences each term. Since it is hard to participate in the collaborative experience of learning without being in class, those who miss more than 4 classes without good reason should expect to have their grades lowered accordingly.


This is a serious offence with appropriately severe penalties. In general it means presenting as your own work anything (ideas, wording, etc.) that is not. Downloading internet material without indicating the source is NOT research: it is cheating. Even a single unacknowledged phrase can lead to an investigation for plagiarism.

Tentative timetable for Fall Term:

Sept. 8 Discuss course expectations and general strategy
Sept. 13 "The Prodigal Son" p. 21 - the importance of reading.
Sept. 15 "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" - Katherine Anne Porter, p. 461
Sept. 20 "Everything that rises must converge" - Flannery O'Connor, p. 209
Sept. 22 "Darkening of the World" - Timothy Westmoreland, p. 509
Sept. 27 essay topics: writing a short essay about one of the short stories.
Sept. 29 further disucssion of short stories and writing about them.
Oct. 4 Beginning Hamlet by William Shakespeare, p. 1101
Oct. 6 Hamlet
Oct. 11 Hamlet
Oct. 13 Hamlet
Oct. 18 Hamlet
Oct. 20 Hamlet
Oct. 25 "The Fall of the House of Usher" - Edgar Allen Poe, p. 142
Oct. 27 "The Fall of the House of Usher"
Nov. 1 "The Fall of the House of Usher"
Nov. 3 Beginning The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Nov. 8 Gatsby - assigning of 2nd formal essay
Nov. 10 Gatsby
Nov. 15 Gatsby
Nov. 17 Gatsby
Nov. 22 Gatsby
Nov. 24 Gatsby
Nov. 29 Review and preparation for Christmas exam.
Dec. 1 Review - last day of classes
Dec. 13 Christmas exam - 9:00 a.m.