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

 Goals of the Course

Our goals at a glance:
  • To define literature as an art and to examine three central genres of literary art (fiction (short fiction), poetry, and drama); to see how those genres are technically and stylistically distinct from one another, yet share many of the same tools and effects
  • To realize that literature can be a catalyst for the inner development of readers, that it can create an aesthetically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, intellectually expansive experience that can be meaningful and satisfying (depending on what you read)
  • To excavate, cultivate, nurture, and express our individual responses to literature; to explore why we have the individual, personal responses we do, and to learn to value those responses as the WHOLE POINT of reading literature
  • To arrive at an appreciation for what reading literature has to offer our entertainment-saturated leisure culture—there’s solitude, slowness, depth, subtlety, sublimity and imagination as an alternative to the super-speeded, superficial, super-obvious, super-commercial, and super-empty junk culture that we all know and love
How do you define literature?
Read the following literary work, a short story by Alice Walker, and use it, as well as other works of literature you remember, as a springboard to help you formulate your own list of ideas towards a “definition of literature.” If its purpose seems something other than “to entertain,” why do you think it exists?  What’s the point or the value of writing something like this?

“The Flowers” by Alice Walker
The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. 6th ed. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s,
2003. 73-74.

        It seemed to Myop as she skipped lightly from hen house to pigpen to smokehouse that the days had never been as beautiful as these. The air held a keenness that made her nose twitch. The harvesting of the corn and cotton, peanuts and squash, made each day a golden surprise that caused excited little tremors to run up her jaws.
        Myop carried a short, knobby stick. She struck out at random at chickens she liked, and worked out the beat of a song on the fence around the pigpen. She felt light and good in the warm sun. She was ten, and nothing existed for her but her song, the stick clutched in her dark brown hand, and the tat-de-ta-ta-ta of accompaniment.
        Turning her back on the rusty boards of her family's sharecropper cabin, Myop walked along the fence till it ran into the stream made by the spring. Around the spring, where the family got drinking water, silver ferns and wildflowers grew. Along the shallow banks pigs rooted. Myop watched the tiny white bubbles disrupt the thin black scale of soil and the water that silently rose and slid away down the stream.
        She had explored the woods behind the house many times. Often, in late autumn, her mother took her to gather nuts among the fallen leaves. Today she made her own path, bouncing this way and that way, vaguely keeping an eye out for snakes. She found, in addition to various common but pretty ferns and leaves, an armful of strange blue flowers with velvety ridges and a sweet suds bush full of the brown, fragrant buds.
        By twelve o'clock, her arms laden with sprigs of her findings, she was a mile or more from home. She had often been as far before, but the strangeness of the land made it not as pleasant as her usual haunts. It seemed gloomy in the little cove in which she found herself. The air was damp, the silence close and deep.
        Myop began to circle back to the house, back to the peacefulness of the morning. It was then she stepped smack into his eyes. Her heel became lodged in the broken ridge between brow and nose, and she reached down quickly, unafraid, to free herself. It was only when she saw his naked grin that she gave a little yelp of surprise.
        He had been a tall man. From feet to neck covered a long space. His head lay beside him. When she pushed back the leaves and layers of earth and debris Myop saw that he'd had large white teeth, all of them cracked or broken, long fingers, and very big bones. All his clothes had rotted away except some threads of blue denim from his overalls. The buckles of the overall had turned green.
        Myop gazed around the spot with interest. Very near where she'd stepped into the head was a wild pink rose. As she picked it to add to her bundle she noticed a raised mound, a ring, around the rose's root. It was the rotted remains of a noose, a bit of shredding plowline, now blending benignly into the soil. Around an overhanging limb of a great spreading oak clung another piece. Frayed, rotted, bleached, and frazzled—barely there—but spinning restlessly in the breeze. Myop laid down her flowers.
        And the summer was over.

Even if you don’t know the purpose yet, you can observe the effects.  The story seems to:
  • Arrest your attention, and while you’re reading the actual world goes away.  Why it’s arresting your attention is not something you really need to consider unless someone like me asks you to; this is just a natural function of reading.  Once you realize the story has gotten your attention, you can ask:  Does it entertain you?  How so?  How not so? (What do we even mean by “entertainment”?) Does it seem to be trying to do something other than or in addition to entertainment? What’s the difference between art and entertainment? 
  • Create an inward experience by creating vivid pictures in your imagination.  You may know the story isn’t “real,” but you can imagine it being real; if the story really grabs you, it becomes possible to bring everything to life inside your imagination—the characters, the setting, the action all spring into a kind of existence, and there’s a kind of experience happening internally.
  • Get you to think about your own experiences, in this case that experience of “growing up.”  You might remember a time when you were shocked to find out about one or another of the horrible things that go on in the world that you are not aware of as a child.  There are certain big themes that literature traditionally tackles, and that transition from childhood to adulthood is one of them.  Our movement from the state of blissfully ignorant innocence to an misery-filled, all-too-knowing experience goes way back to our earliest stories; even the bible tells that story in the first few chapters of Genesis.
What do your notes toward a “definition of literature” look like?  How do they compare to mine?  You can find out by reading the online file: "Fundamental Questions about Literature" at our course website.

  • What are some literary works you remember reading, either for school or for pleasure?  What did you like or dislike about it?
  • What’s the difference between reading for pleasure and reading for practical purposes?  Do you appreciate a good set of instructions as much as you appreciate a good short story?  What are your different expectations for each kind of writing?
  • What’s your best guess at why there aren’t more people today reading for pleasure?  What’s competing with reading?  Is reading on the way out?  If it did go, what would be lost?

  • Individually, write a paragraph or two about one of your favorite books from childhood.  (If you consider your childhood to be last semester, that’s okay—we can be flexible!)  What do you most remember about this book?  Why do you think you especially remember these particular things?  What do you think about this book now?  Even though you remember it, does it strike you as worth remembering, or would it be fine if you forgot it?
  • In small groups, share your memories and your reflections.  Obviously, you can edit out anything you’re uncomfortable sharing with your classmates… Then compile a list  that assembles these reflections—make sure everyone in your group contributes.  Were there any common threads that linked your experiences, such as similar reasons for finding the book memorable or not memorable, valuable or not valuable?  How can you use this awareness to help you formulate some ideas toward a definition of literature?
  • Each group present these experiences the rest of the class.
Directions: write in response to the following (please type; you can single-space):
  • What would make reading fiction or poetry, or watching plays and films, a worthwhile experience for you personally, and what would motivate you to participate in discussions in class?  What would inhibit you from participating in discussions in class?
  • Choose any story, poem or play from your textbook and write a 1-2 page response.  You can use one or more of the questions on the handout “Some Questions for Reading Literature Responsively”--or you can go in a direction you choose yourself.






Questions? Contact me.

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