1006 (N): INTRODUCTION TO LITERATURE
THOMAS UNIVERSITY: FALL, 2004
Instructor: John Muise
Home Phone: 454-8477
JD212: Mon., Wed., Fri., 1:30-2:20 p.m.
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.
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
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.
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.
Your class mark will reflect your attendance and the degree which you
participate in classroom discussions and activities.
Students who miss more than one class without sufficient excuse will
have their grades lowered. Repeated unexcused absences will result in
Essays: 60% (30% each term).
Exams: 30% (15% each term).
Class Mark 10% (5% each term).
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."
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%.
- Frankenstein: "What glory would attend the discovery
if I could ...
render man invulnerable to... death!"
2nd Essay Due Oct. 25: 750 wds./10%.
- "'An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" & "The
Story Of An Hour": "I do not wish to [die] .... that is
- "The Open Boat": "I am going to [die]? Can it be
3rd Essay Due Nov. 29: 1000 wds./15%.
- "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?"
- The Catcher In The Rye: "But what scares me most is
guy's face .... It wouldn't be so bad if you could both be blindfolded."
- "Harrison Bergeron" & "The Veldt": "The
year was 2081, and everybody
was finally equal .... every which way."
1st Essay Due Feb. 7: 500 wds,/5%.
Absurd - "Love For $17.50" & "Cloud 9
: "Just be yourself Get yourself
2nd Essay Due Mar. 4: 750 wds./10%.
- Fight Club: "Stop trying to control [and thus to correct]
and just let go."
3rd Essay Due Apr. 4: 1000 wds./15%.