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


~~ Lit 165: Imaginary Worlds ~~
Topics in Literature


Virgil Rescues Dante, Canto I, Inferno
Engraving by William Blake

Fall 2005

Instructor: Stacy Tartar Esch

Campus Office Main Hall, 312
Campus Phone 610-436-2481
Campus Mail Main Hall, 527
Office Hours MW 11:00 AM -1:30 PM in Main 312
Email or


Also visit our Blackboard course site.

"This is the purpose of literature—not just great literature, but of all literature: to become so absorbed in an imaginary world that we become suddenly aware that in the battle between the world and the mind, it is the mind that is destined to win.' Colin Wilson

"Realism…falls short of reality. It shrinks it, attenuates it, falsifies it; it does not take into account our basic truths and our fundamental obsessions: love, death, astonishment. It presents man in a reduced and estranged perspective. Truth is in our dreams, in the imagination." Eugene Ionesco

"We slip into a dream, forgetting the room we're sitting in, forgetting it's lunchtime or time to go to work. We recreate, with minor and for the most part, unimportant changes, the vivid and continuous dream the writer worked out in his mind (revising and revising until he got it right) and captured in language so that other human beings, whenever they feel like it, may open his book and dream that dream again." John Gardner

Course Texts and Materials

Fantastic Worlds: Myths, Tales, and Stories. Edited by Eric S. Rabkin
The Inferno. Translated by Robert Pinsky.
Brave New World. By Aldous Huxley.
Waiting for Godot. By Samuel Beckett.
Reserve materials if announced. FHG Library. (Online access)
Pocket folder or small binder to use as a Portfolio

Course Objectives

As the course catalog explains, this introductory level literature course is “designed to develop an awareness of literature as being central to all the arts, to increase levels of literacy and critical faculties, and to broaden understanding of the human condition” (WCU Undergraduate Course catalogue). Furthermore, LIT 165 is designated as a “writing emphasis” course, indicating that, along with instruction in interpretive reading skills, the development of students’ creative and analytical writing skills are an objective of the course.  There are several formal and informal writing tasks spread evenly throughout the semester, and the most significant  portion of your final grade is derived from  these writing tasks.  Therefore, students should strive for clarity, correctness, and grammatical grace in all written course work.  Revisions may be submitted with the final portfolio.  

Course Components: Reading, Discussing, Writing

The readings are the heart, mind, and soul of our course. You are expected to carefully read each assignment prior to class, even if you personally find it difficult or confusing-even if you think it's "boring." You must make the effort to read through these obstacles. Along with the literature that excites or intrigues you, or the works you find easy but which leave you indifferent, these challenging texts or passages often become excellent springboards for class discussion. Our readings will be truly diverse in range, style, and genre. In addition to a novel, an epic poem, and a play, we'll read several shorter poems and short stories. What will tie them together will our own desire and our own ability to weave a meaningful thread through the imaginary worlds they visit.

Discussion is a term that refers to several different class activities to extend or enhance your thinking about the readings: class-wide, large group discussions; collaborative, small group discussions; and individual response papers, which are meant to be shared with the instructor and potentially with your classmates. Students are expected to attend each class prepared to engage in any of these discussion activities when materials are assigned.

The formal writing assignments for this course will be very open-ended and in some cases creative (that will be up to you). You will be required to develop your own topics and make your own explicit choices regarding purpose (expressive, expository, or persuasive) for the papers you write. I expect you to use MLA style documentation when necessary for all of your formal papers. Three formal papers, 4-6 pages each, and one independent term paper (in lieu of a final exam) are required. The term paper should be longer: 6-8 pages.  Students who want to keep working on the formal assignments after they've been assessed will have the opportunity to submit revisions in the final portfolio.

The reading, discussion, and informal writing you do throughout the semester will combine to form the PREPARATION AND ORAL PARTICIPATION grade at the end of the semester. Absence (aside from the attendance policy) and lack of preparation for any of the assigned classwork will affect your participation grade. The formal writing assignments and the independent term paper will combine to form your ESSAY grade. If you fail to hand in one of your formal essays you cannot receive more than a "D" for your final course grade, regardless of your other scores. If you fail to hand in more than one of your formal essays, you will receive an "F" for the course. Your final course grade is calculated by compiling your PARTICIPATION, ESSAY, and PORTFOLIO scores as follows:

20% PAPER #1
10% PAPER #2

20% PAPER #3

Class Policies

Late Work. All essays and other assignments are due on the date assigned. If a serious injury, illness, or other emergency prevents you or seems likely to prevent you from meeting a deadline, make arrangements with me before the assignment is due, or the day it is due. If no specific arrangement has been made, late penalties will ensue. Late papers will be assessed a penalty of one letter grade for every two days late (in our age of email, weekends count). You cannot turn in an assignment for full credit more than one week after its due date. After one week, your work can only earn a "D" (numerically 65) or lower.

Portfolio. Each student is required to hand in a portfolio of their writing at the end of the semester. The portfolio assignment (10% of your grade) will ask you to discuss your overall response to the reading and writing you did throughout the semester by compiling your work and writing a commentary.

Attendance. I take attendance each class period. Students are expected to attend every class having read assigned material or prepared assigned homework. Any student who misses more than four classes may receive a lowered grade. (Absences necessitated by a student's participation in a University-sanctioned event are not penalized if the student follows the "excused absence" policy stated in the University catalog.) After four absences your final grade may be lowered according to the severity of your absenteeism and my own discretion. Students with extended medical problems or personal emergencies should notify the Dean of Students, who will contact me about allowing for necessary adjustments. Athletes, student teachers, band members, etc., should provide me with a note from the appropriate professor or coach documenting your need to be away from class. Chronic or extended absence throughout the semester without consultation or permission from the Dean of Students will be grounds for failure. These penalties may be waived only in the case of extreme extenuating circumstances. It is up to the student to provide official verification from the Dean's office of extenuating circumstances, and preferably to discuss these issues with me directly via office visit, phone, or email.

Writing Center. If you are having trouble with a writing assignment, do not hesitate to bring your problem to my attention or bring your essay to the Writing Center in Main 203. The Writing Center offers free, high-quality tutoring to any student who is writing a paper for any course offered by the college. The staff will assist students at all stages of the writing process: developing ideas, organizing drafts, revising, and editing. Tutors will not serve as your proofreaders, however. Their aim is to help you develop your own skills. You may need to call ahead for an appointment as the center becomes fairly busy once the semester is under way. The number is 436-2121. Writing Center hours are
M (10-4), Tu (9-5), W (9:30-7:30), Th (10-7:30), F (10-2).

Office of Services for Students with Disabilities. I will make accommodations for students with disabilities. If you have a disability, please make your needs known to me and contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at 436-3217 for further support or information.

Diversity and Fair Language. You are required by University policy to use nondiscriminatory language and to treat all issues of diversity respectfully (including, but not limited to, race, sex/gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation). Read Quick Access, pp.101-103.

Academic Honesty. Plagiarism of any type is a serious academic offense that can result in a failing grade on an assignment, failure of the course, or referral to academic judicial affairs, depending upon the instructor's judgment. You are plagiarizing if you lift either ideas or word-for-word passages from a published book, article, or website without giving credit to the author; pass off another student's work as your own; or allow a "helper" to actually write parts of your paper for you. Don't do it!!! If you have any questions about how to use sources properly, approach me or one of the tutors in the Writing Center. You can also read Quick Access, pp. 126-134.

Waiting for Godot


Course Readings

Entering Imaginary Worlds
Darkness (Byron)
La Belle Dame Sans Merci (Keats)
In night (Fulke Greville)
I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud (Wordsworth)
Kubla Khan (Coleridge)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Thurber)

Imagining Creation
Genesis (King James Bible)
Blackfoot Genesis (oral tale)
Big Bang (excerpt from City of God)

The Mythic and the Fantastic
The Eye of the Giant (Oral)    
The Myth of Actaeon (Ovid)
The Myth of Narcissus (Ovid)
The Myth of Philomela (Ovid)
The Birthmark (Hawthorne)
Axolotl (Cortázar)
Imagining the Afterlife
Leaf By Niggle (Tolkien)
The Inferno (Dante)
Imagining Utopia/Dystopia
Brave New World (Huxley)
Gattaca (film)

Imagining the Absurd
EPICAC (Vonnegut)
Waiting for Godot (Beckett)
Before the Law (Kafka)

Course Outline

Please note that the assignments and/or dates on this schedule may change during the course of the semester. Readings may be added or substituted.  Changes will always be announced in class and on the course website(s).

Week 1
Introduction to the theme of the course.  Read “Introducing the Theme of Imaginary Worlds” online.

Read the poetry handout: Byron, Keats, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Fulke Greville
Read “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

Informal writing: One of the themes we’ll observe in this course is how each writer seems to depict the role of imagination in our lives. Notice the very different role “imagination” seems to play in each of these particular works.  Explore in writing whether you personally view the imagination darkly or brightly, and what role it tends to play in your own life.  What role does imagination seem to play in our cultural sphere?

Week 2
Read Genesis and Blackfoot Genesis in Fantastic Worlds. 
Read The Big Bang (handout).

Informal writing: Mythic stories have connotative as well as literal meaning.  They are often symbolic or allegorical.  Discuss whether you are personally inclined to read "Genesis 1-3" literally or metaphorically, then interpret the meaning of the story as you are inclined to understand it.

Week 3
Read The Eye of the Giant in Fantastic Worlds.
Read the three selections by Ovid in Fantastic Worlds: The Myth of Narcissus, The Myth of Actaeon, and the Myth of Philomela.

Informal writing: Metamorphosis, radical physical transformation, plays a role in each of the stories you read this week.  Think of a time in your life in which you’ve felt inwardly (invisibly) transformed in some way.  Tell the story of your transformation by inventing an imaginary magical (physical) metamorphosis.

Week 4
Read “Axolotl” in Fantastic Worlds.
Read "Leaf by Niggle" in Fantastic Worlds. (Optional: Read "On Fairy Stories" by J.R.R. Tolkien, available online). 

Informal writing:  Imagine you are a painter. Describe a painting you've created that you would like to "enter," as Niggle enters his painting. Write a narrative about your visit.

Assignment sheet for Paper #1 will be distributed in class and be available online.

Week 5
Read "The Birthmark" in Fantastic Worlds.
Read “Axolotl” in Fantastic Worlds.

Brainstorm topics for your first formal paper. Rough draft due at individual conference with instructor.
Revised draft due in class for a writing workshop.

Week 6
Paper #1 is due this week.

Begin reading the Inferno. Read through Canto III (3).  (Optional: Read the book’s introductory material)

Week 7
FALL BREAK: No classes Oct. 10 and 11.  Oct. 13 – Yom Kippur.
Read the Inferno through Canto X (10).  Read the notes on the Inferno online.

Informal Writing: (1) Discuss how you think the Inferno connects with our general course theme, "imaginary worlds" and where you think Dante stands on the role of the imagination. (2) Select one Canto (up to or beyond X, if you're reading ahead) that particularly strikes you, then (a) summarize it, (b) interpret one or more passages, and (c) write at least one question you have. Your question can be any type (interpretation or comprehension). You can write additional questions about other portions of the book as well.

Week 8
Read the Inferno through Canto XVIII (18).

Informal Writing: Analyze and discuss (1) the ways in which you observe Dante changing as the poem progresses; (2) the evolution of Dante’s relationship with Virgil.

Week 9
Complete your reading of the Inferno—read through Canto XXXIV (34).

Informal Writing:  Closely observe Dante’s behavior and responses as travels through the ninth circle.  Describe what you think is different about him from the character you observed at the beginning of the Inferno.  Discuss whether you think he’s undergone a positive or a negative change.  How does Dante’s response to sin compare or contrast to your own?

Week 10
Read Chapters 1-3 in Brave New World. (Optional: read Aldous Huxley’s “Preface.”)

Informal Writing: Research the terms "utopia,” "dystopia" and “transhumanism” online ( is an excellent source.  Write up your definitions of these terms. 

Read Chapters 4-9 in Brave New World.

Week 11
Read Chapters 10-15 in Brave New World.

Informal Writing: Discuss who you feel are the “individuals” in the Brave New World.  What makes them individual?   Would it be better for them to cast aside their individual desires and conform to the norms of their culture?

Read Emily Dickinson’s poem “Much Madness is Divinest Sense” (handout/online)
Read Chapters 16-end in Brave New World.

Informal Writing: In chapters 16 and 17, Mustapha Mond argues in favor of the philosophical foundations of the Brave New World.  What is the essence of his argument?  Who disagrees with him?  What are the main points on both sides?  Whose side of the argument do you favor?

Week 12
Video Screening: Gattaca
Assignment sheet for Paper #2 will be distributed in class and be available online at the course website.

Week 13

Discuss “EPICAC” in Fantastic Worlds.

Week 14
Paper #2 is due this week.
Read “Cockroaches” and “Axolotl” in Fantastic Worlds.

Read Waiting for Godot. Preliminary discussion.

Week 15
Video Screening: Waiting for Godot
Discussion: Waiting for Godot

Week 16
Conferences for Independent Project papers.

Finals Week
Independent Project is due.






Questions? Contact me.

All materials unless otherwise indicated are copyright © 2001-2008 by Stacy Tartar Esch.

The original contents of this site may not be reproduced, republished, reused, or retransmitted
without the express written consent of Stacy Tartar Esch.
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