Lit 165: Introduction to Literature

Sec. 1: Main 315, MWF 2

Sec. 2: Main 315, MWF 3

Fall 2001

Dr. Robert Fletcher

Main 524, x2626,

Office Hours: M 10-11, 7-8, WF 9:30-11


Course Description

This course introduces you to the academic study of literature. We will read and discuss examples of short fiction, essay, poetry, drama, and the novel, and, at the same time, we will also be studying the cultural, cognitive, and rhetorical processes that enable people to read and write texts. My hope is that you'll leave this class with better interpretive and analytical skills, greater awareness of the relation between imaginative texts and their cultural contexts, and greater range in your responses to literature.


Three of the General Education Goals at West Chester University have been identified as the objectives of Lit 165:

  1. To communicate effectively: Lit 165 aims to improve your communications skills by helping you to read and interpret texts better and by providing you the opportunity to practice the writing skills you began to develop in your composition course(s).
  2. To think critically and analytically: Lit 165 helps you develop your critical thinking skills by introducing you to a few forms of textual analysis. You will discover that the interpretation of a given text is shaped significantly by the analytical framework brought to bear on it.
  3. To demonstrate the sensibilities, understandings, and perspectives of a person educated in the liberal arts tradition: The study of literature has been an important part of the liberal arts tradition, and this course hopes to convince you of its value for your own intellectual and emotional development as an individual.


Requirements and Evaluation Policy

  1. Careful and consistent reading (as measured by occasional quizzes) and enthusiastic participation in class discussions. See my expectations for participation grades. 20% of final grade
  2. Reading journal for first four weeks of semester + participation in webboard discussion (4 postings during the semester). 10%
  3. Three out of class essays:

See my grading standards for formal essays in Lit 165.

Other Policies

In accordance with ADA guidelines, I am happy to make reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Please contact me during the first week of class if you would like such consideration.

Late Assignments: Papers or other assignments submitted late will have 1/3 of a grade deducted for each day (not class period) that passes after the due date. I will not accept any assignment more than 1 week late.

Plagiarism: "Plagiarism is using another's words or ideas without appropriate acknowledgement" (MLA Style Manual 4). In formal essays, "acknowledgement" means using conventions of citation such as the quotation marks and parenthetical note in the previous sentence. Even if you paraphrase someone's words, you must provide a note showing your debt. NOTE: If you plagiarize or use commercial study aids (e.g. Cliff's Notes), in your formal essays, you will receive an irrevocable "F" grade.

Attendance: A class that studies reader response, as ours will, has to have some healthy discussion of actual responses to readings, and so attendance will be part of your participation grade. You are permitted three absences during the semester, excluding those for major medical problems, which will be handled on an individual basis. If you miss too much of the semester--even with a legitimate medical excuse--I may have to ask you to withdraw. After the three cuts, your final grade in the course will be lowered a third of a grade (e.g. from C to C-) for each cut.

Schedule of Readings and Assignments

Please note: When I provide a page reference for the literary works, I may cite only the first page number--needless to say, I expect you to read the story, poem, play or essay in its entirety. This schedule is subject to change on short notice (shifting items to a later date, deletion of items). If you are absent, it's your responsibility to check with me for updates.

M 8/27 Introduction

W 8/29 Ch. 1 + 58-61


F 8/31 Reading and Analyzing Fiction 62-75, Intro to "Faith and Doubt" 1287-89 + Carver, "Cathedral" 1291

M 9/3 Labor Day

W 9/5 1287-89, Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown" 1319

F 9/7 O'Brien, "The Things They Carried" 1343

M 9/10 Roth, "The Conversion of the Jews" 1354

W 9/12 Reading and Analyzing Essays 156-60, Essays: Dillard, "Sight into Insight" + two student papers 1431-50

F 9/14 Poems by Kinnell, Komunyakaa, Lowell, Owen and Sandburg 1383-92

M 9/17 Thinking About Interpretation, Poetry, and Painting 1459-61; Paintings and Poems by Brueghel, Auden, Devenish, Tintoretto, Scott Momaday, Hopper, Ray, Yellen 1462-67

W 9/19 Paintings and Poems by Van Gogh, Sexton, Vermeer, Nelson, Picasso, Stevens, Elmer, and Rich 1468-76

F 9/21 Ch. 2 (bring your reading journal to class)

M 9/24 Writing workshop

W 9/26 Writing workshop


F 9/28 234-37 + Achebe, "Marriage is a Private Affair" 238

M 10/1 Olson, "I Stand Here Ironing" 286, Response Essay Due

W 10/3 Reading and Analyzing Poetry 84-93

F 10/5 Reading and Analyzing Poetry 93-105

M 10/8 Poems by Alvarez, Ortiz Coffer, Frost, Gaffney, Giovanni, Heaney, and Larkin 312-321

W 10/10 Poems by Lassell, Lee, Millay, Mirikitani, Olds, Pastan, Roethke, Song, and Zimmer 322-334

F 10/12 Hong Kingston, "No Name Woman" 390

M 10/15 Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun 402-68

W 10/17 Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun + Lorraine Hansberry, In her Own Words 468-76; 1st webboard posting due

F 10/19 through F 10/26 Film of A Raisin in the Sun, to be shown in FHG Library, first floor

M 10/29 Baldwin, Lester, Cheney, Carter, Wilkerson, Anderson and student essays on Raisin 476-94; 2nd webboard posting due

W 10/31 Ch. 4

F 11/2 Discussion of webboard postings


M 11/5 1103-06 + Cade Bambara, "The Lesson" 1107, ANALYTICAL ESSAY DUE

W 11/7 Olen Butler, "The Snow" 1113

F 11/9 Heker, "The Stolen Party" 1128

M 11/12 Poems by Blake, Coleman, and Collins 1153-59

W 11/14 Poems by Piercy, Robinson, Soyinka, Toomer, and Williams 1173-81

F 11/16 Drama: Valdez, "Los Vendidos" 1244

M 11/19 Essays: Douglass, "Learning to Read and Write" 1253, Rodriguez, "Workers" 1262

W 11/21 and F 11/23 Thanksgiving Holiday

M 11/26 through F 11/30 Novel: Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day; 3rd webboard posting due on 11/28

M 12/3 Ch. 5; 4th webboard posting due

W 12/5 Writing workshop

F 12/7 Discussion of webboard postings

RESEARCH ESSAY DUE at the beginning of the final exam period (when we will view the film version of The Remains of the Day), TBA