The semester begins August 26th; the last day of classes is December 7th.
Section 201.016 meets Mon/Wed, 10:30 - 11:45 am, Robinson Hall B202; the day of the final is Wed, December 11th, 10:30 am - 1:15 pm
Section 201.019, meets Mon/Wed, 12:00 - 1:15 pm, Robinson Hall B124; the day of the final is Mon, December 16th, 10:30 - 1:15 pm
My preferred e-mail address is: Ellen2@JimandEllen.org,.
My website address is: http://mason.gmu.edu/~emoody
You can also reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The online catalogue of the GMU English Department describes English 201 as follows:
Close analysis of literary texts, including but not limited to poetry, fiction, and drama. Emphasis on reading and writing exercsies to develop basic interpretive skills. Examination of figurative language, central ideas, relationship between structure and meaning, narrative point of view, etc.
In this particular class our aim will be to read in depth. We will proceed on the assumption that our enjoyment of an experience is enriched when we understand it in thoughtful ways. The epigraph to this course is the opener to Richard Feynman's What Do YOU Care What Other People Think?:
"I have a friend who's an artist, and he sometimes takes a view which I don't agree with. He'll hold up a flower and say, 'Look how beautiful it is,' and I'll agree. But then he'll say, 'I, as an artist, can see how beautiful the flower is. But you, as a scientist, take it all apart and it becomes dull.' I think he's kind of nutty.
First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people -- and to me, too, I believe. Although I might not be quite as refined asethetically as he is, I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. But at the same time, I see more in the flower than he sees. I can imagine the cells inside, which also have a beauty. There's beauty not just at the dimension of one centimeter; there's also beauty at a smaller dimension.
There are the complicated actions of the cells, and other processes. The fact that the colors in the flower have evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; that means insects can see the colors. That adds a question: does this aesthetic sense we have also exist in lower forms of life? There are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of science, which only adds to the excitement and mystery and awe of a flower. It only adds I don't understands how it subtracts."
I think there are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of how to read critically. These questions when answered can lead us to understand our lives and ourselves better. What knowledge am I talking about? The specific conventions and procedures of interpretation that enable knowledgeable readers to move from the surface meaning of a text (the story, the types of characters, the setting, the images) to how a text is put together. The goal of this particular 201 will be to make visible how literary critics think about written texts, to explain the assumptions behind the conventions which enable people to make sense of a text beyond simply repeating the story. Our aim is not to come up with a specific kind of interpretation, but to explain the facts about the forms the works take. We will discuss what is meant by a genre or kind of work (examples are tragedy, comic, satire and romance) and what is meant by a subgenre (gothics, fantasy, realism). We will look at conventions of characterization, narrative point of view and uses of archetypal imagery. We will try to understand what is meant by irony and how it is used in literary works. The focus will be on making explicit the grounds of an interpretation. We will try to make visible the journey from reading as a process to producing written and oral literary talk by explaining the special conventions that readers call upon when they produce ordinary interpretations which make the arts which spring from the human imagination and our emotional lives alive to us.
You are welcome to watch the films before reading them if that helps you understand the plays.
In this class you will be asked to read and to demonstrate you have read all the assigned texts and to see and demonstrate you have seen all assigned films -- as well as thought about them -- by 1) writing three essay with guideliness at home; 2) giving one short talk or presentation to the class; and 3) passing three open book in class exams: a first-third, second-third and final.
You are asked to write three essays following guidelines (or essay with guideliness) outside class.
For the first you must choose between writing about any two of the assigned short stories; or a comparison of the filmed adaptation of The Woman in Black and Susan Hill's Woman in Black or on any three of the assigned poems from this or a later part of the term.
For the second you must choose between writing about A Doll House, or about Death of the Salesman, or A Streetcar Named Desire. You can if you like compare one of the four plays with another.
For the third you must choose between writing a comparison of the filmed adaptation of Mary Reilly with the novels by Valerie and Stevenson; a comparison of Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly; or an essay on Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, together with "Markheim" and "A Chapter of Dreams." You can once again choose to write on any three of the assigned in any part of the term.
These are our "set journals" and are to be numbered (1, 2, and 3). What is a essay with guidelines? See attachment entitled An Essay with Guidelines and student models. You are required to adhere to the guideliness strictly, e.g., your plot summary must not be more than 1 paragraph; your analysis of text must be 2-3 pages. See student models. The aim of this exercise in pre-structured self-conscious process writing is to help you learn to read better and to write analytically about what you read.
Due dates for the set essay with guideliness: you are asked to hand your work in on the day specified in the calendar; if a journal or the story is a session late, I will take down the grade an element for every sessions it is late (a B+ becomes a B, then a B- and so on).
You can revise the journals if you like. If your grade for the second version is higher than the your grade for the first, I average the two grades together to form a single grade for the particular essay with guidelines. If your grade on the second version is the same or lower, I ignore it. You can also write "extra credit" journals on authors you have not yet written about. The subject for these should be one of any of the four films we see whole: Wise's The Woman in Black; Frears's Mary Reilly. You can also choose to write an extra credit journal on the 1985 Roxbury/World Vision Death of a Salesman, directed by Volker Shlondorff, with Dustin Hoffman as Willy and John Malkovitch as Biff; or the 1951 CBS/Fox Warner Bros. Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan, with Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois, Marlon Brando as Stanley, Kim Hunter as Stella and Karl Malden as Mitch
You are asked to give a 5-7 minute talk on a text that will be assigned to you in class. The talks will begin the third meeting of the semester. The idea is to practice inventing a clear thesis- statement which is supported by concrete details from a text or your own experience.
One of the aims of this course is to guide students into learning how to talk as well as how to write about texts in an educated way. To do a talk brings home two important truths about writing. To quote John Trimble, the "success of a communication depends solely on how the reader receives it", and thinking clearly with the ordinary language of everyday life is the basis of a readable essay. To do well in middle class occupations outside the classroom demands that you learn how to present yourself and your point of view attractively. By asking everyone to do a short talk we can learn from one another ways of presenting the self in a poised manner that can gain respect and charm. The whole class will listen and try to respond. The ensuing dialogue and the student's own later thoughts about either what happened may teach everyone something about communication skills.
To have everyone talk on a different short piece will also make the course more enjoyable and de-center the classroom. It is another opportunity for a student to practice the techniques and conventions of literary interpretation. We will also have many points of view and become something like friends. Each student is responsible to do his or her talk on the day assigned; it is to be taken seriously as an individual project. The class is turned over to the student and he or she is "on".
I have provided a model talk by a student on Chrétien for each student to use.
There will be two open book exams during the term and one on the day of the final. The in- class exams will consist of an essay question on the texts you are supposed to have read and the films we have seen during that part of the term; there will also be five short answer questions. The final exam will consist of two essay questions on the texts and films we have covered since the second-third exam and The Cherry Orchard, and there will be ten short answer questions. You will be allowed to bring your books, classnotes, and any notes you have made while reading over the term.
1) I ask that you attend class faithfully, read what is required in the books, and see the movies. For most students, the less frequently they attend, the less they learn.
2) I hope that you participate in class. To do this, you have to have read most of the text due to be read for a given meeting. Our class is large, and some of the cultural history behind these texts is unfamiliar so I will have to use some of the time to offer more background than is provided by our editions. However, I hope we will have good class discussions after each student gives a talk.
In this course many of our texts are so commonly assigned in college courses that there are Cliff and Monarch Notes available and many printed essays on these texts; there are also sites on the Internet where you may copy or buy ready-made essays. To copy and to hand in as your own work any of such texts in whole or part is plagiarism. If I suspect anyone of, or catch anyone at, plagiarising, I will follow the guidelines of the English department which require that I fail such a student and report him or her to the Chair of my Department:
'"Plagiarism means using words, opinions, or factual information from another person without giving that person credit. Writers give credit through accepted documentation styles, such as parenthetical citation, footnotes, or end notes; a simple listing of books and articles consulted is not sufficient. Plagiarism is the equivalent of intellectual robbery and cannot be tolerated in an academic setting."
My view is such behavior makes a mockery of the goals of this course.
Your grade will reflect the work you have done over the course of the whole semester. By the end of this time I should have for each student a minimum of seven grades, one for each of three journals, one for a short talk, and three for the exams. These grades will be averaged together to form one final grade. If a student has done extra credit journals, he or she will have more grades to be averaged in. I then take into account your participation in class; if you came for help if you needed it; and those journals which showed that you cared, that you really thought about your subject and made an effort to find something out about, explore, and something intelligent, coherent, and complete. I recognize the value of, respect, and reward hard work when I see it.
The English Department has also formulated a policy concerning midterm grades (which are due in by October 22nd), which I will also follow:
In English 100, 101 and English 200s, students receive a midterm letter grade based on the work of the first seven weeks of the course. The purpose of this grade is to help students find out how well they are doing in the first half of the course in order to make any adjustments necessary for success in the course as a whole. Instructors calculate letter grades based on the completed course assignments as weighted on the syllabus through the seventh week. The work in the second half of the semester may be weighted more heavily, and so the midterm grade is not meant to predict the final course grade. Students may view their grade online at WebGMU.
Write to me by e-mail: Ellen2@JimandEllen.org; you can write me 24 hours a day; I look at my mail at least twice a day, and I write back. Be sure to type the e-mail address to which you wish me to send my reply at the end of your message.
You can call the phone in the office I use (993-1176) or the English office (993-1160) or leave a message in my box in the English Office, which is in Robinson Hall on the fourth floor. I have no voice mail, and there is no way you can fax me. It is also well to remember that I am on campus only 2 afternoons and evenings each week. The secretaries don't call me; they simply place put a note in my box. Further, leaving essays in my box is a chancy business because materials get lost this way. No-one stands guard over the boxes. Give it to the secretary, watch him or her date and put it in the correct box, and then leave. The safest speediest way to get an essay to me is to bring it to class on time and give it to me warm hand to warm hand. Make a second hard-copy of everything you write. It's worth the money.
Individual conferences to go over journals, and discuss reading or individual problems are available by appointment on Wednesday beween 1:15 and 3:15 pm in Robinson Hall A455. Sign up on the stenography pad which will be placed on the corner of my desk every time the class meets. I encourage everyone to come and work with me on their essays individually.
The College of Arts and Sciences runs a University Writing Center where you will find tutors to help you with writing. Their phone number is 703-993-1200. Here is a description of the place and its services:
"The George Mason University Writing Center is a writing resource open to the entire university community, offering free tutoring in a comfortable, supportive atmosphere. During face-to-face and online sessions, trained graduate and undergraduate tutors form a variety of disciplines assist writers at all stage of the writing process. Tutors emphasize positive attitudes and stratgies that help writers at any level learn to evaluate and revise their work in order to be more confident and effective writers."
To find out more and to start to use the services offered, go to http://writingcenter.gmu.edu and http://writingcenter.gmu.edu/resources/index.html/
In Class: Course introduction: We will watch Herbert Wise's The Woman In Black and go over the syllabus and directed book journal forms..
Outside Class: for 2nd meeting (Wed, 8/28) read over syllabus, Directed Journal- Essay guidelines, and Student Models on the Net. Bring any and all questions you might have. For 3rd meeting (Mon, 9/4) begin reading The Woman in Black and aim to finish the chapter entitled "The Sound of a Pony and a Trap" (pp. 1- 81 in my edition; that's about half-way through the novella) and in Norton, Ambrose Bierce, "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (pp. 633 - 639); read also Roberts, Writing about Literature, Chapter 1 - 5: read pp. 1- 4, 16 - 51, 56 - 62, 66 - 67, 79 - 93. Buy all the books and browse.
In Class: Class discusses techniques of literary analysis, the first half of The Woman in Black and "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."
Outside class: for 3rd week 1st session (9/9) finish reading Woman in Black and Roberts, Writing About Literature, Chapter 16: "Writing About Film;" for 2nd session (9/11), Roberts, Chapters 11 & 13, pp. 148 - 156, 167 - 79, in Norton, Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee" (p. 812), Levertov's "Wedding Ring" (p. 816), Nemerov's "The Vacuum" (p. 819), Heaney, "Mid-Term Break" (p. 820), Adrienne Rich "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" (p. 842), Hayden, "Those Winter Sundays" 9p. 849). Pick three choices for a short talk of which you will do one; the short talks begin on the first session (Monday) of the 4th week.
In Class, 9/9: Finish discussing Woman in Black; compare story to film.
In Class, 9/11: Give out Short Talks; how to do a short talk. Go over Roberts, poetry, and tone.
Outside Class: for 4th week read Roberts, Chapters 7 & 8, pp. 108 - 115, 117 - 124; read in Norton: John Cheever's "The Country Husband", James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues": Doris Lessing's "Our Friend Judith", Louisa May Alcott's "My Contraband" (pp. 23 - 64, 142 - 155, 169 - 633)
In Class, 9/16: Short Talk 1: John Cheever's "The Country Husband": Analyze from Point of View; Short Talk 2: James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues": Analyze Sonny and his brother's different characters
In Class, 9/18: Short Talk 3: Doris Lessing's "Our Friend Judith": What is the Usual Idea People have about "spinsters" and how does this story relate to that idea; Short Talk 4: Louisa May Alcott's "My Contraband": Analyze how the characters represent ideas and how the point of view affects this
Outside Class: for 5th week write and bring to class a plan for Essay With Guidelines #1, read Roberts, Chapter 12, pp. 160 - 163; read in Norton: Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat", Nadine Gorimer's "Good Climate, Friendly Inhabitants" (pp. 320 - 337, 245 - 255) Dorothy Parker's "A Certain Lady" (pp 870 - 871), Andrew Hudgins's "Praying Drunk" (pp. 874 - 875), Audre Lorde's "Hanging Fire" p 876), Walt Whitman's "I celebrate myself, and sing myself" (pp. 883 - 884), Edith Wharton's "Souls Belated" (pp. 685 - 705).
In Class, 9/23: PLAN FOR #1 DUE. Short Talk 5: Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat": Analyze the Use of the Setting; Short Talk 6: Nadine Gorimer's "Good Climate, Friendly Inhabitants": Analyze the use Gorimer's make of irony in the story: what is the narrator/author's real attitude to the central female character and the men she is surrounded by?
In Class, 9/25: Short Talk 7: The Use of the "Speaker" of the Poem in Dorothy Parker's "A Certain Lady", Andrew Hudgins's "Praying Drunk" (pp. 874 - 875), Audre Lorde's "Hanging Fire" p 876), Walt Whitman's "I celebrate myself, and sing myself" (pp. 883 - 884): how does the poet depend upon the reader to dislike cruelty and to identify with the speaker; Short Talk 8: Edith Wharton's "Souls Belated": The Problem of Social Pressure
Outside Class: If I receive any outlines that propose unacceptable topics I will email the students concerned. Get to work on Essay With Guidelines #1; read in Norton, Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach" and Anthony Hecht's "The Dover Bitch" (pp. 896 -897 and pp. 1150 - 1151).
Important Note: Class is cancelled on September 30th: the professor's daughter is getting married and it would not look well if she didn't come.
In Class, 10/2: Short Talk 9: Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach" and Anthony Hecht's "The Dover Bitch": Poems whose Meaning Reside in the Relationship between the Two ("Literary Tradition as Context"); Short Talk 10: The Difference between the Use of Flashback and Progressive Time in the novella Woman in Black and the film Woman in Black
Outside Class: prepare for exam and work on Essay With Guidelines #1.
In Class, 10/7: First Third open-book exam on Wise's Woman in Black, Susan Hill's Woman in Black, and all the short stories and poetry we've read.
In Class, 10/9: We will watch BBC film adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll House.
Outside Class: For 7th week, read in Norton, critical matter on Ibsen's A Doll's House, and following short esessay at the book called "Evaluating Drama," and write final version of Essay With Guidelines #1.
In Class, 10/15: We will finish watching BBC film adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll House.
In Class, 10/16: ESSAY WITH GUIDELINES #1 DUE. We will discuss the film adaptation of A Doll House, the critical material on it in the Norton, and, using Roberts, how to criticize a play.
Outside class: for 9th week read in Norton, Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House, pp. 1493 - 1545; Martha Collins's "Lies" (p., 935), Judith Ortiz Cofer's "The Changeling" (p 1197), Anne Finch's "There's No To-Morrow" (p. 925), Marie Howe's "Practicing" (p. 1183), Mary Lady Chudleigh, "To the Ladies" (pp. 829 - 830), Anna Laetitia Barbauld's "Washing Day" (pp. 1198- 1199), Adrienne Rich's "For the Record" (pp. 1115 - 1116).
In Class, 10/21: Return and Discussion of Essay With Guidelines #1. Short Talk 11: A Doll House: The Central Conflicts between the husband and wife; Short Talk 12: A Doll House: Trace the ways in which Money is Used in the Play.
In Class, 10/24: Short Talk 13: The Function of the Minor Characters in A Doll's House; Short Talk 14: The Woman's Point of View in Martha Collins's "Lies" (p., 935), Judith Ortiz Cofer's "The Changeling" (p 1197), Anne Finch's "There's No To-Morrow" (p. 925), Marie Howe's "Practicing" (p. 1183), Mary Lady Chudleigh, "To the Ladies" (pp. 829 - 830), Anna Laetitia Barbauld's "Washing Day" (pp. 1198- 1199), Adrienne Rich's "For the Record" (pp. 1115 - 1116).
Outside class: for 10th week, read in Norton, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, pp. 1935 - 2005; Langston Hughes's "I, Too" and "Theme for English B" (pp. 1277 - 1278), Robert Lowell's "Skunk Hour" (pp. 1279 - 1280), Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum" (pp. 1178, 1184 - 1185), Derek Walcott's "A Far Cry from Africa" (pp. 1159 - 1160).
In Class, 10/28: Short Talk 15: Death of a Salesman: The Central Conflicts between the son and father; Short Talk 16: Death of a Salesman: Trace the ways in which Money is Used in the Play. If time permits, I'll screen a couple of scenes from the 1992 film of The Death of a Salesman with Dustin Hoffman as Willy and John Malkovitch as Biff.
In Class, 10/30: Short Talk 17: Death of a Salesman: Willy Loman and Male and Class Ideals; Short Talk 18: Race, Class and War in Langston Hughes's "I, Too" and "Theme for English B" (pp. 1277 - 1278), Robert Lowell's "Skunk Hour" (pp. 1279 - 1280), Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum" (pp. 1178, 1184 - 1185), Derek Walcott's "A Far Cry from Africa" (pp. 1159 - 1160).
Outside Class: for 11th week, read in Norton, Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire (pp. 2071 - 2138), Richard Wilbur's "The Beautiful Changes" (pp. 951- 9 52), Adrienne Rich's "Two Songs" (pp. 963 - 64), John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (p. 1011), Dylan Thomas's "Fern Hill" (pp. 1306 - 1307); write and bring to class a plan for Essay With Guidelines #2.
In Class, 11/4: PLAN FOR #2 DUE. Short Talk 19: A Streetcar Named Desire: The Central Opposition Between Stanley and Blanche: What Do the Characters Symbolize or Stand For; Short Talk 20: A Streetcar Named Desire: Trace the ways in which Class Stigmas are Used in the Play. If time permits, I'll screen scenes from the 1951 film of Streetcar Named Desire, with Vivien Leigh as Blanche and Marlon Brando as Stanley.
In Class, 11/6: Short Talk 21: Short Talk 21: A Streetcar Named Desire and A Doll House: Compare the use of the supporting characters in the two plays (Mrs inde and Nils Krogstad, Stella and Mitch); Short Talk 22: Beauty in Richard Wilbur's "The Beautiful Changes" (pp. 951- 9 52), Adrienne Rich's "Two Songs" (pp. 963 - 64), John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (p. 1011), Dylan Thomas's "Fern Hill" (pp. 1306 - 1307).
Outside Class: If I receive any outlines that propose unacceptable topics I will email the students concerned.. For 11th week, prepare for exam and write final version of Journal- Essay #2.
In Class, 11/11: Second third open-book exam on the BBC filmed production of A Doll House, Ibsen's A Doll House, Miller's Death of a Salesman, and Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, and all the poetry we read and discussed up to October 30th. .
In class, 11/13: The class will watch Stephen Frears's adaptation of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Mary Reilly in the film, Mary Reilly
Outside class: for 13th week, read Roberts, Chapters 6, pp. 94 - 104, in Broadview Press edition, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and "Appendix F", contemporary reviews, pp. 29 - 91, 136 - 145. Write final version of Essay With Guidelines #2.
In Class, 11/18: We will finish watching Mary Reilly.
In Class, 11/20: ESSAY WITH GUIDELINES #2 DUE. We will discuss Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the gothic as a modern popular subgenre
Outside Class: for 14th week, read Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Chapter on Dreams" and "Letters" (Broadview Press, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Appendices A & D, pp. 93 - 104, 124 - 130) and Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly.
In class, 11/25: Short Talk 23: Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Chapter on Dreams" and "Letters" (Broadview Press, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Appendices A & D, pp. 93 - 104, 124 - 130): The Relationship of Stevenson's Imagination to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; Short Talk 24: The Use of a Double Self in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and "Markheim" (the story is in Appendix B of Broadview Press edition, pp. 105-121) (016) and Short Talk 29: The Character of Mary Reilly as an Archetypal Gothic Heroine (Class 019 only) ; Short Talk 25: Mary Reilly: Analyze the story from how the point of view makes us reread Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde differently
Outside Class: for 15th and last week write and bring to class a plan for Essay With Guidelines #1,
In Class, 12/2: PLAN FOR #3 DUE. Short Talk 26: Characters as Symbols in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Mary Reilly;: Short Talk 27: Visual Techniques in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the film Mary Reilly.
In Class, 12/4: Short Talk 28: The Plot-Designs of Mary Reilly and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; Short Talk 29: The Character of Mary Reilly as an Archetypal Gothic Heroine; Extra Credit 25: The Use of a Double Self in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and "Markheim" (Class 019 only)
Outside class: If I receive any outlines that propose unacceptable topics I will email the students concerned. For Final Exam Period, prepare for final and write Essay With Guidelines #3; also write any extra credit, large or compensatory essay with guideliness.
Section 201.016: The day, time and place of the final: Wednesday, December 11th, 10:30 am - 1:15 pm, B202
Section 201.019: The day, time and place of the final: Monday, December 16th, 10:30 am to 1:15 pm, B124.
These will be open book exams on Stephen Frears's Mary Reilly, Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the stories and essays and letters assigned from the Broadview Press edition, on Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly and the poetry assigned since the first third open-book exame. This exam will consist of two essays and ten short answer questions. ESSAY WITH GUIDELINES #3 IS DUE.