West Chester University

Spring 2006 and Fall 2005

West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001






Course Syllabi and Announcements
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements and Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements and Assignments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2008)
  A Reading of THE TEMPEST

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
  Goals of the Course
  Fundamental Questions about Literature
  Valuing Literature
  Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  Literature as ART
  Approaching the Art of Fiction
  Defining the Short Story
  Evaluating Short Fiction
  Craft of Fiction: PLOT
  Craft of Fiction: CHARACTER
  Small Group Exercise
  ARABY by James Joyce
  A note about GIRL
  POE and the art of STORY OF A HOUR
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Fiction and Ambiguity - Your Questions
  Writing Workshop - Short Fiction
  Poetry Journal Project Assignment Sheet
  Defining Poetry
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  Drama and Tragedy
  Study Questions: DEATH OF A SALESMAN

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
  Paper #4 Assignment Sheet
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources Worksheet
  Selecting Information
  Evaluating Arguments
  CASEBOOK PROJECT Assignment Sheet
  Approaching Persuasive Writing
  Topic Development - Profile Essay
  Generating Ideas for the Profile Essay
  Paper #2 Assignment Sheet
  Profile Exercise
  Objective Writing: Selected Readings
  Writing Workshop: Paper #1
  Expressive Writing in the NYTimes
  Writing Effective Introductions and Conclusions
  Paper #1: IDENTITY
  Expressive Writing
  Open Letter Exercise and Examples
  EMERSON on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Literature related to IDENTITY
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Franz Kafka's BEFORE THE LAW
  Paper #3: Assignment Sheet
  Paper #4: Independent Project
  The Problem of Stability in BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Analyzing Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  A Reading of Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST
  From today's news (11/3/05)
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #2
  Goodbye to Dante's Imaginary World
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 10-34
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 1-10
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 32-34
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 18-31
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 12-17
  INFERNO: Structure
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 1-5
  INFERNO: Analyzing Canto 1
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Approaching Dante's DIVINE COMEDY
  A Little Help with Dante's INFERNO
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Responses to LEAF BY NIGGLE
  ON FAIRY STORIES: An Essay by Tolkien
  Notes on Axolotl
  Reading Ovid's Tales
  From Myth to Literature: Approaching Ovid's Tales
  Functions of the Genesis Tales
  Analyzing Mythic Tales
  Defining Mythology
  Filtering the Introduction to FANTASTIC WORLDS
  Commentary on LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI by Keats
  Commentary on DARKNESS by Byron
  Handout: Imagination Poems Set
  What is Imagination?
  Our Course Theme: Imaginary Worlds
  LIT 165 Assignments: Fall 2005
  LIT 165 Announcements: Fall 2005
  Imaginary Worlds: Course Syllabus

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
  Paper #4: Independent Thinking/Reading/Writing
  Casebook Preparation Checklist
  Casebook Assignment Schedule
  Evaluating Sources for the Casebook
  Casebook Project Assignment Sheet
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Assignment Sheet: Objective Writing
  Reviewing Elements of the Profile Essay
  Writing the Profile Essay
  Readings: Objective Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Expressive Writing
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  Emerson on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Mind-map: Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Assignments Page
  Announcements Page
  WRT 120 Course Syllabus for Fall 2005

ENG Q20: Basic Writing

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

~~ A More Philosophical Introduction to the Course ~~

This is an introductory level literature course, so it’s aims are modest.  The course “exposes” you to the disciplinary study of literature as one of the central “arts” that mark our advanced civilization.  But you’ve already been “exposed” to literature throughout high school.  What can we do in a course like this that will make it valuable and worth the effort you’ll put into reading these works—some of which are pretty challenging?  

My hope that this semester you’ll  deepen your awareness of at least a few of the world’s literary treasures—its poetry, fiction, drama—the major works I’ve chosen for us are classics, treasures, works that were hugely provocative in their day and remain that way even today. I’ve chosen works that have been culturally significant for a long time.  That’s a different emphasis than choosing works that seem culturally significant at this present moment—that may or may not withstand the test of time.  The three major works we’re working have all made some kind of indelible mark on human consciousness; their imaginary characters or scenarios have entered our vernacular: inferno, brave new world, Godot.  You may only be vaguely aware of the connotations of those words right now, but when the course is over, you’ll know what they mean more intimately.   That’s a modest gain, but it’s a gain.  These images have become almost archetypal in their power to describe our human condition, which means me and you, our world, this world.  Studying works like that enrich us greatly; they are like journeys, adventures.  You may not be going anywhere physically, but you’re definitely traveling mentally. To  study of literature is like opening up a treasure chest.  What will you find in there?  And these treasures are scattered all over the world, in every culture.  The value of a course like this one is that you have a chance to become more aware of them—that’s the point.  To be “exposed.”  You won’t be asked to turn into a professional literary scholar here, but you will be asked to keep your eyes, your ears, and your mind open, and to take a close look.  You may like what you see.  I know myself, though I sometimes like easy entertainment like everyone else, I often get really sick of it.  (Maybe more than most people, I’ll grant that.)  After a while I see it as mostly juvenile, if not infantile—a drain rather than a gain. And maybe you feel that way sometimes, too.  Or you may feel that way one day.  And when you do, if you do, you may want to go in search of something better.  And that’s what this course can offer you.  A doorway onto something better.

Most of us have been exposed to literature from an early age, and some of those early experiences shape us as readers for a long time.  Your experiences may be positive or negative; now you may have to fight through a lot of interference and negativity just to get your mind focused on a page of poetry.  But it wasn’t always that way.  Once upon a time back there in your earlier youth, you were probably enchanted by stories. 

Literature is primarily an entertainment, as are all the arts.  It’s there to please, to delight.  Entertainment and  literature are both arts in that they’re both “well-crafted”—but serious art is more permanent, more long-lasting, more enriching, while the effects of light entertainment are more fleeting and short-lived.  You like it while it’s there and then you immediately forget about it.  But the great stuff stays with you and becomes part of you.

The Course Theme

“Imaginary Worlds” is our course theme.  It’s our “topic.”  So let’s discuss that a little bit.

Here's a quick brainstorm: the difference between an imaginary world and a real world...

Real World
Imaginary World
Limitations of Reality
     Insurmountable problems 
No Limitations / Fantasy
     Magical solutions to problems are possible; everything is possible
     Absurdity; disorder; chaos
Order And Meaning
     Meaningful cause/effect relationships are there to be discovered (plot)
Suffering, Poverty, Disease, Death
     Set beside great wealth and health and ease, these can seem even more cruel than they are already
Truth, Beauty, Immortality
      While there may be all he stuff of tragedy, there is also redemption: through suffering comes wisdom

A portrait of the world as it actually is, in all its oppressive imperfection—a difficult thing to face sometimes, as today, when you realize all the poor people who were stranded on the Gulf Coast because they didn’t have the means to escape.  The tragedy of that is a sad reality we may not like to face.  The realist may be able to face it better than the idealist.   

A vision of the world as it should or could be—emotionally satisfying, especially to dreamers and idealists.  A little frustrating to the realist who will insist that it’s not real so it’s not important.

That probably looks a little one-sided; I admit I’ve stacked the deck (just a little) to make a point.  An more balanced table would reflect that the real world is also filled with the stuff of the imaginary world and vice-versa—in fact they are  very similar.  But in the real world the negatives can really wear us down until we find we need a little holiday, a little mental vacation.  And that’s what the positive aspects of the imaginary world provides (even, paradoxicaly, when the picture is bleak, as in the poem "Darkness" by Lord Byron).  The imaginary world provides a mental vacation, a lifting of the normal parameters, the normal limitations, and the result is often a lifting of the spirit.  A sense of liberation.

When you’ve been away, you often come back refreshed, with a new perspective, a new outlook, new insights.  And that coming home is one of the great pleasures of being away.  That’s what imaginary worlds offer us.  They take us away so we can make that return journey.

All of literature is an imaginary world—it’s all “a dream and not a dream,” as Byron’s speaker says in “Darkness.”  Even so, there are imaginary worlds that seem very real and those that are very obviously not real.  They each have their advantages and disadvantages.  Real worlds are more familiar, comfortable, and we don’t have to travel as far away to step into them.  In that sense they’re a little easier to enter.  But easy isn’t always better.  The more difficult imaginary worlds may be tougher to enter initially, because they take you farther away, into unknown territory, and that may end up being more thrilling, more exciting, more vivid, more “imaginative.”  It’s imagination that allows the writer to invent even the most fictional, impossible, alternative, fantastical worlds, and imagination that allows us to enter them.






Questions? Contact me.

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