English 501.04--Contemporary Critical Theory and Edith Wharton's Fiction--Summer 1996
This course introduces students, including teachers seeking to fulfill M.A.T. degree requirements in literary criticism or women's literature, to current approaches to texts' historical and cultural contexts, and to contemporary analysis of gender relations. We'll explore, for instance, the privileges and constraints of New York high society in Wharton's 1905 bestselling novel The House of Mirth; we'll read several of Wharton's short stories about marriage, desire, and class relations; and we'll devote substantial attention to essays on contemporary critical theory, practice, and pedagogy. Written work includes succinct journal entries, a longer essay or teaching project, and perhaps some discussion via a local online newsgroup. Finally, we shall explore the possibility of creating individual World Wide Web "homepages," and constructing a course website.
Critical Terms for Literary Study, 2nd ed. Eds. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin (Chicago, 1995) Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth. Ed. Shari Benstock (Bedford/St. Martin's, 1994) Critical Theory and the Teaching of Literature. Eds. James F. Slevin and Art Young (NCTE, 1996) Wharton, Edith. Roman Fever and Other Stories (Macmillan, 1987)
1. One critical response (approx. 425 words, single-spaced, titled, on one page) that prompts you to identify and to address interpretive and critical issues that these texts present. You may choose a study question to suggest a topic or problem to explore in your response, or you may develop your own topic or approach to the work in question. Your observations and analyses should be succinct and sharply focused, with potential for substantial further development.
2. One summary and critical review (500 words total). This two-step assignment is similar to the critical response, but includes a concise summary or abstract of a critical essay (approx. 200 words) followed by an analytical/evaluative/explanatory response or review of the essay (approx. 300 words)--try to fit all this onto one page (cut/paste, reduce slightly), then you'll be expected to bring fifteen copies to class to share for peer response on the day that we discuss the essay in question.
3. Participation in class and group discussion (including informal writing). Please take advantage of the opportunity small groups may provide to discuss your reactions, share your insights and research, and to listen and reply to others' ideas. I shall call regularly upon groups to facilitate class discussion, with each group leading off discussion (10 minutes) on specific texts and critical readings twice during the term. On these days I expect the group scheduled for that day to be prepared to lead off our discussion by presenting their positions on the material (with some brief summary, focus on key points in the reading, perhaps some incorporation of secondary criticism or historical research), or you might consider the pedagogical or practical implications of what we're discussing. I hope this strategy will enable you to move the class in directions you find most helpful, give you opportunities to develop critical skills through collaboration, and prevent me from dominating class discussion while still providing occasions for sharing my perspectives with you.
4. Participation via local online discussion newsgroup. I expect you to contribute a paragraph or more to the conversation at least once a week, posting your entry to the current week's discussion by 9 a.m. each Wednesday morning. I will award five points per week for one or more entries.
5. One double-spaced essay or teaching project, 8-10 pp. More on this later, but in general this essay enables you to explore an interpretive/contextual problem, try out a critical approach/hypothesis, and help to express ideas prompted by your reading and viewing of a work from our syllabus and by our discussion. I am interested in seeing the ways that you select, define, and engage questions and contradictions, and I attend to the clarity, imagination, and grace that you demonstrate in presenting your topic, thesis, and argument. I do not always expect an essay to conclude by "solving" such problems or by "proving" your thesis; I do hope that you address an interesting topic in thoughtful and useful ways. If you want to explore and to develop a teaching project, the work might include a brief course description, syllabus, sample assignments, and an extended explanation of one's teaching philosophy and goals. I welcome discussing other possibilities for completing this assignment. Please feel invited to confer with me during the writing process.
6. Due dates: All required work is due at the beginning of class on the due date--work turned in later will be marked late and graded accordingly. All required graded written work will be downgraded one notch (for example, B+ to B, converted to points for each assignment) for each weekday late (not just days classes meet but counting just one day for a weekend). Work more than a week late will not be accepted. I will grant short extensions for medical and family emergencies--but talk with me as soon as possible to request an extension. ALWAYS KEEP EXTRA COPIES OF YOUR WORK.
7. Attendance is required--your in class participation is a crucial part of a collective learning experience. Excellent attendance is rewarded; poor attendance is penalized. If you have no absences by the term's end (excused or not), you will receive four bonus points. One and a half absences will not affect your semester grade. But two unexcused absences will lower your semester total by seven points with seven point reductions for each additional absence (for example, three absences=minus 14 points and so on). Almost all absences will be counted--excused or not--if something extraordinary occurs, talk to me.
8. Grades: Four Newsgroup entries (5 pts each); One Critical Response (25 points); One Summary/Critical Review (25 points); One Essay or Teaching Project (100 points); Home Page/Website contributions (10pts). These required assignments add up to a maximum of 180 points. Thus 162-180 points equals an A, 144-161 equals a B, 126-143 equals a C, 108-125 equals a D, and anything below 108 merits an F. I shall also reserve a potential three bonus points based on my perceptions of the strength of your participation and efforts over the semester.
9. Office hours. I encourage you to confer with me--especially before assignments are due--to talk about your interests, intentions, and writing strategies. My office is not accessible to the handicapped, so please let me know if you need to meet me elsewhere. If you cannot make my regular hours, we can usually arrange another time. I also welcome communicating with you by e-mail (email@example.com, or just sflores if you are on Raven).
6/10 Sarraute's "Tropism XVIII"; "Introduction" (CTLS); "Representation" (CTLS); Chopin, "The Story of an Hour" (handout)
6/11 "Narration" (CTLS); "Figurative Language" (CTLS)
6/12 "Determinacy/Indeterminacy" (CTLS); "Culture" (CTLS); TheHouse of Mirth; Newsgroup session (tentative)
6/13 "Gender" (CTLS); "Unconscious" (CTLS); House of Mirth
6/17 "Ideology" (CTLS); "Literary History" (CTLS); House of Mirth
6/18 "A Critical History of The House of Mirth"; "Cultural Criticism and HM"; Robinson, "The Traffic in Women: A Cultural Critique of The House of Mirth"
6/19 Newsgroup entries due (two by now); "Class" (CTLS); "Marxist Criticism and HM"; Dimock, "Debasing Exchange: Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth"
6/20 Critical Response due; "Feminist Criticism and HM"; Restuccia, "The Name of the Lily: Edith Wharton's Feminism(s)"
6/24 "Deconstruction and HM"; Norris, "Death by Speculation: Deconstructing The House of Mirth; Wharton, "The Other Two"
6/25 "Psychoanalytic Criticism and HM"; Sullivan, "The Daughter's Dilemma: Psychoanalytic Interpretation and Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth"; Wharton, "Xingu"; Butler, "Desire" (CTLS)
6/26 Newsgroup entry due; Slevin and Young, "Introduction" (CTTL); Pratt, "Daring to Dream: Re-Visioning Culture and Citizenship" (CTTL); Wharton, "Apres Temps"
6/27 Warnock, "What We Talk about When We Talk about Politics" (CTTL); Graff, "Organizing the Conflicts in the Curriculum" (CTTL)
7/1 Cheyfitz, "Redistribution and the Transformation of American Studies" (CTTL); Scholes, "A Flock of Cultures--A Trivial Proposal" (CTTL); Wharton, "Roman Fever"
7/2 Peer-response to essay/teaching project; Waller, "Polylogue: Ways of Teaching and Structuring the Conflicts" (CTTL); McCormick, "Reading Lessons and Then Some: Toward Developing Dialogues between Critical Theory and Reading Theory" (CTTL)
7/3 Newsgroup entry due; Sauer, "Making Connections: Theory, Pedagogy, and Contact Hours" (CTTL); individual reports/reviews (report on your work/reflect on critical theory/practice/Wharton/course)
7/5 Essay or Teaching Project due; individual reports/reviews
Click here to access the newsgroup for this course (uidaho.class.eng.501.04). Available only to users on the UI campus, and intended for those enrolled in this class.
Links below to home pages created quickly by some class members, using the University of Idaho ETS WebRunner program
abby bandurraga Barbara Crumb Colleen Hall Kathleen Shannon Hall Greg L. Harm Debra Mathews Jason Murray Tricia Peterson Sheila Ramaprian Gwen Sullivan Gene Winter
Go to Stephan Flores' Home Page.