Experience of Literature | Summer Session 2, 2012

ENGL 2030-002 (MTWR 1010-1235 | PH 322)

Text | Bedford Introduction to Literature Website | Course Policies & Procedures | Course Requirements | Agenda | Poetry Study Sheet | Drama/Fiction Study Sheet | Take-Home Final Exam

Dr. David Lavery

Office: PH 372 | Office Hours:  910-1010, M, Th; other times by arrangement | E-mail: david.lavery@mtsu.edu | Office Phone/Voice-Mail: 615-898-5648 | Home Page: http://davidlavery.net


Dr. David Lavery is Professor of English at MTSU (1993- ). The author of over one hundred and fifty published essays, chapters, and reviews, he is author / co-author / editor / co-editor of twenty two books, including Joss Whedon: Conversations and The Essential Cult TV Reader, the forthcoming Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers and Television Art (a textbook), and published books on the Space Age, Lost (2), Twin Peaks, X-Files, The Sopranos (a trilogy), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teleparody, Seinfeld, Deadwood, My So-Called Life, Gilmore Girls, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural, and Crying. The organizer of international conferences on the Whedonverses, Lost, and The Sopranos, a founding co-editor of the journals Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies, Critical Studies in Television, and Series/Season/Show, co-founder of The Whedon Studies Association, he has lectured around the world on the subject of television (Australia, Turkey, the UK, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany) and has been a guest/source for the BBC, NPR, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, A Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil),Publica (Portugal), AP, The Toronto Star, USA Today. From 2006-2008, he taught at Brunel University in London.

TEXTS: The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing, Ninth Edition by Michael Meyer [hereafter Meyer]; all page numbers below are to this book.



Class format: We will follow a lecture / discussion format during most class meetings. Manuscript form: All written assignments must be word-processed and must be submitted in digital form, as a Microsoft Word or Rich Text attachment, as an e-mail sent to david.lavery@gmail.com. Please name the file with your own last name (for example: lavery.doc). Please be sure to carefully edit and proofread your own work. Do not simply rely on your computer's spell checker. (Go here to read a poem that demonstrates the untrustworthiness of spell checkers.) A list of "Things to be Aware of" as you write your essays can be found here. Essay Evaluation: I will evaluate your essays using a grading scale which can be found here (PDF file, Acrobat Reader required). Reading assignments: You are responsible for having read the entirety of each assignment, including the editor's introduction to each work/author we are studying. Participation & involvement: Please come prepared for each day’s class. I encourage you to become an active participant in class discussion and to ask constructive and meaningful questions at all times--even when I appear to be "lecturing." Please do not save your best questions / comments for after class, as students so often do. Attendance: Regular attendance is essential to the ongoing progress of the course. One absence (the equivalent of one week in a regular term) will be permitted. A second absence may result in the loss of a letter grade. A third absence may result in failure of the course. Inclement Weather Policy: Go here. Plagiarism / Cheating: The unacknowledged use of the words / ideas / insights / original research of another is, of course, prohibited. Do not assume that, like prominent historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose, you may plagiarize without fear of punishment. Should I catch you plagiarizing, or cheating in any way, you will receive a grade of "0" on the assignment in question, the violation may be reported to University authorities, and you may fail the course, as several students in past semesters have done. Students with Disabilities: Any student with a disability will be given all the rights and privileges guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act if he/she is registered with Disabled Student Services (call/contact John Harris, KUC 120/2783). University Writing Center: The University Writing Center, sponsored by the English Department and staffed by full-time and adjunct faculty and graduate teaching assistants, is located in PH 326. At the UWC you can get constructive help with a variety of writing problems, from pre-writing to organization to grammatical errors. (Please be aware, however, that the UWC does not do proofreading.) Grading Scale: 90-99%=A | 80-89%=B | 70-79%=C | 60-69%=D | 0-59%=F



Critical / Interpretive Essay: You owe me a critical essay of not less than 1,250 words in length on an individual poem, play, or story, or two or more considered together. Your essay must have a title that gives a general idea of what the essay will be about.  Irony in "Good Country People" or The Role of Memory in Death of a Salesman--good titles. Death of a Salesman (as title of your essay itself)--bad title. Think of your audience as your classmates; presume that the reader has read the work(s) in question. Don't even think about writing on a story or poem or play you have not read at least twice. Do not (NOT) write a plot summary. Since you are writing about a work your reader has already read, your purpose is, as an "expert" on it (or at least one who has paid careful attention to it), to enhance its meaning for your reader by analyzing/interpreting some aspect of it. Like any good essay, your's will need to have a thesis: a commitment/contract (usually at the end of the introduction, usually expressed in a sentence or two) in which you inform your reader what you will accomplish in the essay about to be read. The events in the story/poem/play itself should be talked about in present tense, as if they are still going on.  Thus "Manley Pointer leaves Hulga, missing a leg, in the hayloft" not "Manley Pointer left Hulga, missing a leg, in the hayloft."  Proofread/edit carefully. Peter Elbow once said that submitting an essay to a teacher full of errors is the equivalent of throwing dirty socks in your mother's face and commanding "Wash these!" If you make me wash your socks, I will not be happy and will respond appropriately. The title of a play or a novel should be in italics or underlined: Death of a Salesman or Death of a Salesman not "Death of a Salesman." Titles of short stories ("Young Goodman Brown") or poems ("The Emperor of Ice Cream") should be in quotation marks.


In Meyer, you will find excellent discussions of how to write essays on literature and sample student essays on fiction, poetry, and drama throughout the book. The book also includes a comprehensive section (beginning on p. 1593) on "Critical Thinking and Writing." A sample student essay on Langston Hughes), written for this course at MTSU (it received an "A"), can be found here; you can find another (on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) here (another A paper) (both in PDF, Acrobat Reader required). See Agenda for due date. 30% of grade.

Two exams (1) on Poetry and (2) on Drama/Fiction: In-class cognitive-memory tests, primarily matching and identification, on authors, works, literary terms (see the glossary in Meyer). Poetry Exam 20% of grade; Drama/Fiction Exam: 30%.

Take Home Final Exam: A take-home exam, consisting of a menu of topics, from which you will select two, responding with essay answers. These topics will all be "leading questions," intended to inspire your own comprehensive synthesis of course ideas, questions, problems. 20% of your grade. See Agenda for due date.




Mtg | Date | Topic | Reading Assignment | Course Requirements

Week 1

1 | 6/4/12 || Introduction to the Course | Housman, "Terence, This is Stupid Stuff" (Power Point); Introduction to Poetry: Il Postino | Frost, "Stopping by Woods" | 887; Coursen on "Stopping"; 896; Collins, "Introduction to Poetry," 570; Pastan, "Marks," 676 | Intro to Poetry Power Point

2 | 6/5/12 || Browning, "My Last Duchess," 702; Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress," 613; Housman, "Athlete," 1045; e. e. cummings, "she being Brand" [on Power Point] | Intro to Poetry 2 Power Point | Stephen Colbert Interviews Elizabeth Alexander

3 | 6/6/12 || Owen, "Dulce Et Decorum Est," 649; Robinson, "Richard Cory," 685; Stafford, "Traveling Through the Dark," 695; Updike, "Dog’s Death," 552; Nemerov, "Walking the Dog," 989 | Intro to Poetry 3 Power Point

4 | 6/7/12 || Poems by Emily Dickinson, 819 ff | Dickinson Power Point | poems by Langston Hughes, 899 ff | Without Sanctuary | Harlem Renaissance | Hughes (poets.org) | Model Hughes Essay | Hughes Power Point

Week 2

5 | 6/11/12 || Poems by Mary Oliver | "Starlings in Winter" (blog entry) | Oliver Power Point | The Singer-Songwriter as Poet: Leonard Cohen | Cohen Power Point

6 | 6/12/12 || Poems by Gary Snyder | Gary Snyder on Poetry and Ecology (YouTube) | "About Gary Snyder" (Modern American Poetry) | Snyder Power Point | poems by Billy Collins, 922 ff | Collins Reads His Poetry | "Nostalgia" | "Osso Buco" [the dish] | "Questions About Angels" [video] | "Litany" [video | a 3 year old recites "Litany"] | "Building with Its Face Blown Off" [video]

7 | 6/13/12 || Introduction to Drama: Oedipus, 1127 | Oedipus Power Point | A Synopsis of the Play | Tom Lehrer Sings About Oedipus | Rukeyser, "Myth" | Poetry Exam in Class

8 | 6/14/12 || Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? [in class screening] | WAVW Starter Kit | WAVW Power Point

Week 3

9 | 6/18/12 || WAVW Discussion | Film and Television Drama and Comedy (I): Screening and Discussion of Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog | Joss Whedon Power Point | Read Rhonda Wilcox, Stacey Abbott, and David Lavery on Dr. Horrible on CST | Dr. Horrible Official Site | Dr. Horrible Fansite | Dr. Horrible Starter Kit | Dr. Horrible  Power Point | Dr. Horrible Script

10 | 6/19/12 || Film and Television Drama and Comedy (II): Screening and Discussion of Seinfeld and Community | David, Seinfeld, 1391 | Seinfeld Website | Seinfeld Handout | Seinfeld Power Point | David Lavery on Community [Telegenic] | Greendale Community College Website

11 | 6/20/12 || Film and Television Drama and Comedy (III): Screening and Discussion of Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb | Stanley Kubrick Course | Dr. Strangelove Starter Kit | Dr. Strangelove Changed My Life | Dr. Strangelove Power Point | Colbert Goes Strange

12 | 6/21/12 || Introduction to Fiction: Chopin, "The Story of an Hour," 15 | Faulkner, "A Rose for Emily," 84; Mansfield, "Miss Brill," 263 | Fiction Power Point | Fiction Terms Power Point | Chopin Power Point | Faulkner Power Point | Mansfield Power Point

6/22/12: Essay due by day's end [if you want to have a chance to rewrite it]

Week 4

13 | 6/25/12 || Dubus, "Killings," 96; Minot, "Lust," 279; Updike, "A & P," 539; Boyle, "Carnal Knowledge," 451; Smith, "The Happy Memories Club" [available online] | ["Killings"/In the Bedroom Starter Kit Here] | Dubus Power Point | Updike Power Point | Boyle Power Point | Smith Power Point | Minot Power Point | "Lust" at Cheathouse.com

14 | 6/26/12 || Focus on Flannery O'Connor (361)--O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," 367; "Good Country People" 378; "Revelation," 392 | O'Connor Power Point

15 | 6/27/12 || No Class

16 | 6/28/12 || Final Meeting | Drama/Fiction Exam in Class [Drop-dead date for essay]. At 900: I will be in PH 322 to help you prepare for the exam. Attendance optional.

7/6/12: Take-Home Final Exam due by the end of the day