English 2006E - The Study of Literature

Instructor: John Muise - Home Phone: 454-8477
George Martin Hall 213: Mon., Wed., Fri., - 10:30-11:20 a.m.

The 'Purpose' of Our Endeavours:

Katherine Mansfield once suggested that we defeat the 'purpose' of art by drawing an essential distinction between art and
(`real') life. Friedrich Nietzsche would have agreed, and he felt that studying art necessarily reinforces this detrimental distinction.
In any case, we will be 'studying' Mansfield, Nietzsche, and various other 'artists', and in the process of studying a number of
literary texts and covering the major literary periods and genres, we will address the following questions: What is the 'purpose'
of literature (art)? What (if any) relevance does literature (art) have for those of us who live in the 'real' world? Why do we study
literature (art)? Should we study literature (art)? In our efforts to address these questions, 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.). 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; Walden, Henry
David Thoreau; The Open Boat and Other Stories, Stephen Crane; Bliss And Other Stories, Katherine Mansfield; One Flew
Over The Cuckoo's Nest,
Ken Kesey; Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk. Photocopies of various poems and other short literary
texts will be provided.

Assignments: You will be required to submit three papers per term (one 750 word paper, one 1000 word paper, and one
1500 word paper), 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, a short film, a literary piece, etc.) in place of a paper (you must write
at least one 'formal' essay per term for me). 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. 5 Introduction.

Sept. 8-12 The Birth of Tragedy: The Fractured Self.

Sept. 15-Oct 10 Hamlet: The Fractured Renaissance Man (Self).

Oct. 13-31 Frankenstein: The Fractured Romantic Self. 1st Essay Due Oct. 13 (750 Wds./5%).

Nov. 3-28 Walden: Escaping From Our 'Selves' Via Camping In The Backyard. 2nd Essay Due Nov. 3 (1000 Wds./ 10%).

Dec. 1-3 Review. 3rd Essay Due Dec. 1 (1500 Wds./15%).


Jan. 5 Discussion of Christmas Exam.

Jan. 7-16 The Open Boat And Other Stories: The 'Real/Natural' (Fractured) Self.

Jan. 19-Feb.6 Bliss And Other Stories: The Fractured Modernist Self.

Feb.9-27 One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest: Still Crazy (& Fractured) After All These Years.

1st Essay Due Feb. 2 (750 Wds./5%).

Mar. 8-Apr.2 Fight Club: Healing The Fracture By Beating Ourselves Up?

2nd Essay Due Mar. 8 (1000 Wds/10%).

Apr. 5-7 Review. 3rd Essay Due Apr. 5 (1500 Wds./15%).