April 18, 2007
Syllabus: Introduction to Literature
Each day, all of are required to read and interpret the world around us. One person, for example, may see an advertisement and view it as a way of receiving information about some new product, while another may read the same text as a manipulative ploy and an exploitation of the unconscious consumer. It’s all in how you look at it!
The world of texts may come to us in the form of images, words, sounds, or speech, and we must be able to interpret those texts to fully participate in our world and comprehend what’s occurring around us. In order to be active consumers and producers of text, we need to understand how texts are produced, how to develop techniques to interpret those texts we encounter, and how to form methods to create meaningful text.
Students will study the variety of texts available to them for interpretation (be it literary, print, online, visual, etc), develop techniques to interpret the range of texts, produce creative texts of their own, and finally reflect on what is involved in the creation of texts.
- Atwood, Margaret: The Penelopiad
- Gaiman, Neil: Sandman Vol 1: Preludes and Nocturnes
- Homer: The Odyssey
- Nafisi, Asar: Reading Lolita in
: A Memoir in Books Tehran
- Silko, Leslie Marmon: Ceremony
- selected readings as assigned
- in class films
- Blog (online reading journal)
- The blog, hosted by Wordpress, will function as a reading journal. The minimum posting requirement is once for each class session, following an assigned prompt, though students are certainly welcome to post more. I’ll be reading these, and they will be available for your classmates to read and comment on. The blog entry will be due by midnight the day before the next class meeting so that I can read the entries. This will be counted as part of the participation aspect of the course.
- Unit reflection papers (3 total)
- These will be three 3-5 page papers that will come at the close of the first three units asking you to reflect on certain aspects of that unit.
- Group parody project and presentation
- The assignment at the close of Unit Four will be a group project and presentation. The class will be broken up into groups to create a parody or re-centered text based on The Odyssey.
- Project proposal
- In order to get you thinking and working on your final projects early, a project proposal will be due. It’ll give me a chance to provide feedback on your ideas and for you to ask questions.
- Creative project/reflection/presentation
- It is not enough for us to learn how to interpret texts—we must also know how to create them. The final project will contain three parts: the creative element (which can be anything textual—song, poetry, short story, essay, film, comic, painting, collage, etc—of your own creation), the reflective element (what went into your creative process?), and the presentation element, where you share your project with the class.
- Participation—class interaction/blog assignments: 15%
- Unit reflection papers: 15% each (45% total)
- Group parody project: 15%
- Final creative project: 25%
Unit One: Text as History/Biography
August 22—Tim O’Brien, “The Things They Carried”
August 24—Dan Baum, “The Casualty: An American Soldier Comes Home From
August 27—Asar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in
August 29—Reading Lolita in
August 31—Reading Lolita in
September 3—Labor Day, no class
September 5—Reading Lolita in
September 7—Finish Reading Lolita in
Unit Two: Text as Culture/Oral History
September 10—John Lame Deer, “The Circle and the Square” Assignment #1 Due
September 12—Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony
Unit Three: Text as Visual Representation
September 21— Paul Gravett, Graphic Novels (excerpts) Assignment #2 Due
September 24—Neil Gaiman, Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes
September 26—view Mirrormask
September 28—view Mirrormask
October 1—finish Mirrormask
Unit Four: Interplay of Texts
October 3—Final project day: Assignment #3 Due!
October 5—Homer, The Odyssey
October 8—The Odyssey
October 10—The Odyssey
October 12—Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus
October 15—The Penelopiad
October 17—The Penelopiad
October 19—Group project work day: Project proposal due!
October 22—view O Brother Where Art Thou?
October 24—view O Brother Where Art Thou?
October 26—finish O Brother Where Art Thou?
October 29—Groups present parodies, Parodies Due!
Unit Five: Text as Creative Process
October 31—Michael Pollan “Why Mow?”
November 2—Non-fiction essay, continued
November 5—Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven”
November 7—Edgar Allen Poe, “The Philosophy of Composition”
November 9—field trip to student art gallery
November 12—Prose contribution from MFA student
November 14—MFA student guest speaker
November 16—Poetry contribution from MFA student
November 19—MFA student guest speaker
November 21 & 23—Fall Break and Thanksgiving
November 26—Project presentations
November 28—Project presentations
November 30—Project presentations
December 3—Project presentations
December 5—Dead Day
December 6—Class Final: Reflective piece posted to blog by HIGH NOON