ENGLISH 1006 (M): INTRODUCTION TO LITERATURE

ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY: FALL, 2004

Instructor: John Muise
Home Phone: 454-8477
EC103: Mon., Wed., Fri., 2:30-3:20 p.m
.

Course Description:
Over the course of the next two semesters, we in English 1006 will encounter various suggestions concerning the purpose and/or nature of art/literature. According to Shakespeare's Hamlet, for instance, "the purpose of [theatrical art] is, to hold, as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature." Friedrich Nietzsche, meanwhile, suggests that one of art's main purposes is to serve "as a saving sorceress, expert at healing." Even Chuck Palahniuk offers his ‘two-cents-worth' when he suggests (via Tyler Durden) that "everything is a story." It would seem to make sense, then, that in the process of studying a number of literary texts and covering the major literary periods and genres, we should address the following compound question: What is the purpose of literature (art), and what (if any) relevance does literature have for those of us who live in the ‘real' world? In our efforts to address this compound question, we will look critically at the distinction that we make between ‘appearance' and ‘reality', and we will discuss (equally critically) the issue/notion of ‘human nature'. In addition to studying a range of literary texts, we will examine a number of ‘non-literary' texts, (ads, videos, film segments, T.V. shows, musical pieces, etc.) in class. Classes will involve lectures, discussions, and (if you want to do it) group work; and effective writing and critical thinking and reading will be emphasized and encouraged.

Texts: The Birth Of Tragedy, Friedrich Nietzsche; Hamlet, William Shakespeare; Frankenstein, Mary Shelley; The Open Boat And Other Stories, Stephen Crane; The Catcher In The Rye, J.D. Salinger; Cloud Nine, Caryl Churchill; Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk. Photocopies of the following stories will be provided: Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge," Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," Katherine Mansfield's "Bliss," Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants," Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron," Ray Bradbury's "The Veldt," and Charles Bukowski's "Love For $17.50." Photocopies of various poems will also be provided.

Assignments: You will be required to submit three papers (one 500 word paper, one 750 word paper, and one 1000 word paper) per term, and to do some short in-class writing assignments and exercises. Note: I am certainly willing to allow you to do something creative (an oral presentation, for example) in place of one paper (per term). See me if this option appeals to you.

Exams: There will be a three-hour Christmas exam and a three-hour final exam, each of which will consist of an essay question and several short answer questions. You may take a dictionary to the exams.

Class Mark: Your class mark will reflect your attendance and the degree which you participate in classroom discussions and activities.

Attendance: Students who miss more than one class without sufficient excuse will have their grades lowered. Repeated unexcused absences will result in failure.

Break-down of Final Grade:
Essays: 60% (30% each term).
Exams: 30% (15% each term).
Class Mark 10% (5% each term).


Tentative Outline:

Sept. 10 Introduction
Sept. 13-24 The Birth of Tragedy (and of our 'unartistic,' Socratic culture): "From this point
onwards, [the individual] conceives it as his duty to correct [and thus to control] existence."
Sept. 27-Oct.22 The Renaissance (or the 'Re-birth') - Hamlet: "The time is out of joint.
O cursed spite, That ever I was born to set it right!"
1st Essay Due Sept. 27: 500 wds./5%.
Oct. 25-Nov.19 Romanticism - Frankenstein: "What glory would attend the discovery if I could ...
render man invulnerable to... death!"
2nd Essay Due Oct. 25: 750 wds./10%.
Nov. 22-26 Realism - "'An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" & "The Story Of An Hour": "I do not wish to [die] .... that is not fair."
Nov. 29-Dec. 3 Naturalism - "The Open Boat": "I am going to [die]? Can it be possible?"
3rd Essay Due Nov. 29: 1000 wds./15%.
Jan. 3-7 Modernism - "Bliss" & "Hills Like White Elephants": "How idiotic civilization is!
Why be given a body if you have to keep it shut up in a case?"
Jan. 10-Feb.4 Postmodernism - The Catcher In The Rye: "But what scares me most is the other
guy's face .... It wouldn't be so bad if you could both be blindfolded."
Feb. 7-11 Dystopia - "Harrison Bergeron" & "The Veldt": "The year was 2081, and everybody
was finally equal .... every which way."
1st Essay Due Feb. 7: 500 wds,/5%.
Feb. 14-Mar. 4 The Absurd - "Love For $17.50" & "Cloud 9 : "Just be yourself Get yourself
together."
2nd Essay Due Mar. 4: 750 wds./10%.
Mar. 14-Apr. 8 Post-Socraticism? - Fight Club: "Stop trying to control [and thus to correct] things,
and just let go."
3rd Essay Due Apr. 4: 1000 wds./15%.