The Experience of Literature | Fall 2013

ENGL 2030-46 [TR 240-405 | PH 308]

Text | Bedford Introduction to Literature Website | Course Policies & Procedures | Course Requirements | Agenda | Dr. Horrible Starter Kit | Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf Starter Kit | "Killings"/In the Bedroom Starter Kit | Take-Home Final


Dr. David Lavery

Office: PH 316A | Office Hours: M and W 9-11 am; 1-4 pm; T and Th 9-12 | E-mail: | Office Phone/Voice-Mail: 615-898-5648 | Home Page:

Dr. David Lavery is Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies at MTSU (1993- ), where he won the University's 2006 Distinguished Research Award. The author of one hundred and fifty published essays, chapters, and reviews, he is author / co-author / editor / co-editor of twenty three books, including Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers, TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural, The Essential Cult Television Reader, and The Essential Sopranos Reader. The organizer of international conferences on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Sopranos, a founding co-editor of the journals Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association and Critical Studies in Television, 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), Information (Netherlands), AP, The Toronto Star, USA Today. From 2006-2008, he taught at Brunel University in London.


TEXT: The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing, Tenth 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 submitted by the assigned date as a Microsoft Word or Rich Text file via the appropriate D2L Drop Box. 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. Two absences will be permitted. A third absence may result in the loss of a letter grade. A fourth absence may result in failure of the course. Cell Phones/Computers: Use of cell phones during classs is strictly forbidden. Use of lap tops/netbooks/Tablets (for note-taking purposes exclusively) is allowed only if prior permission is secured from me. 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 Essays: You owe me two (2) critical essays of not less than 1,000 words in length on an individual poem, play, or story, or two or more considered together. Each 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. bluebulletThink of your audience as your classmates; presume that the reader has read the work(s) in question. bluebulletDon't even think about writing on a story or poem or play you have not read at least twice. bluebulletDo not (NOT) write a plot summary. bluebulletSince 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. bluebulletLike any good essay you 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. bluebulletThe 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." bluebullet 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.bluebullet 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."


In Meyer, you will find excellent discussion 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. 2065) on "Reading and the Writing Process." Sample student essays on Groundhog Day, "Miss Brill," and Langston Hughes—all written for this course at MTSU (all receiving an "A")—can be found by following the links. See Agenda for due dates. Essay 1: 20% of your grade; Essay 2: 25% of your grade.

Take Home Final Exam: A take-home exam [available here], 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. 25% of your grade.

Tests: You will take three in-class cognitive-memory tests—on drama [Drama Study Sheet], fiction [Fiction Study Sheet], and poetry [Poetry Study Sheet]—consisting of a variety of matching, identification, short answer questions (on authors, works, literary terms [see the glossary in Meyer]). See the Agenda for test dates. Each worth 10% of your grade.



Date Subject | Reading(s), Links | Requirements

Week 1

8/27/13 Introduction to the Course; Introduction to Drama | Oedipus, 1414 | A Synopsis of the Play | Tom Lehrer Sings About Oedipus | Rukeyser, "Myth" | Power Point: Oedipus

8/29/13 Drama: Oedipus (cont.)

Week 2

9/3/13—Drama: Hamlet, 1584 | Hamlet (Michael Almereyda, 2000) [in-class screening]

9/5/13—Drama: Hamlet [in-class screening continued]

Week 3

9/10/13—Drama: William Shakespeare and Hamlet (discussion) | Power Points: History of Theatre 1 and 2

9/12/13—Drama: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? [in class screening] | WAVW Starter Kit | Power Point: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Week 4

9/17/13—Drama: Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (cont.) | Power Point: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

9/19/13—Drama: 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

Week 5

9/24/13—Drama: Film and Television Drama and Comedy (I): Screening and Discussion of Seinfeld | David, Seinfeld, 1394 | Seinfeld Website | Seinfeld Handout | Power Point: Seinfeld

9/26/13—Drama: Film and Television Drama and Comedy (II): Screening and Discussion of Community ("Remedial Chaos Theory" [3.4]Onion TV Club) or ("Epidemology" [2.6]Onion TV Club; or "Critical Film Studies" [2.19]Onion TV Club; David Lavery on Community [Telegenic] | Greendale Community College Website | Power Point: Community

Week 6

10/1/13—Drama: Film and Television Drama and Comedy (III): Screening and Discussion of "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" (The X-Files) | Power Point: The X-Files

10/3/13—No Class

Week 7

10/8/13—Fiction: Introduction to Fiction | Chopin, "The Story of an Hour," 15; Mansfield, "Miss Brill," 307 | Power Points: Fiction; Chopin; Mansfield

10/10/13—Fiction: Boyle, "Carnal Knowledge," 569; Smith, "The Happy Memories Club," 588 (also available in the Power Point) | Power Points: Smith; Boyle | Drama Exam


Fall Break (10/12-10/15)

Week 8

10/17/13—Fiction: Dubus, "Killings," 103; Minot, "Lust," 339; Updike, "A & P," 733 | ["Killings"/In the Bedroom Starter Kit Here] | "Lust" at | Power Points: Dubus; Minot; Updike

Week 9

10/22/13—Fiction: Dagoberto Gilb | "Love in L.A." 311; Junot Diaz, "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie," 178; Packer, "Brownies," 356 | Power Points: Packer/Gilb/Diaz | Fresh Air Interview with Junot Diaz

10/24/13—No class | Essay 1 Due

Week 10

10/29/13—Fiction: A Study of Flannery O'Connor, 442; "A Good Man is Hard to Find," 449; "Good Country People," 460; "Revelation," 474 | O'Connor Reads "A Good Man is Hard to Find" | Power Point: O'Connor

10/31/13Poetry: Introduction to Poetry | Il Postino | Frost, "Stopping by Woods, 1112; Coursen, "A Parodic Interpretation of "Stopping by Woods," 1121; Collins, "Introduction to Poetry," 764; Pastan, "Marks," 883 | Power Point: Introduction to Poetry 1; Poetry Terms | Fiction Exam


Week 11

11/5/13—Poetry: Introduction to Poetry (cont.) | Stephen Colbert Interviews Elizabeth Alexander | Browning, "My Last Duchess," 910; Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress," 812; Housman, "Athlete," 1331; Frost: "Mending Wall," 1100 & "After Apple-Picking," 1106; Yeats, "Leda and the Swan," 1356 | Stevens, "The Emperor of Ice Cream" (on Power Point); Owen, "Dulce Et Decorum Est," 852; Robinson, "Richard Cory," 893; Piercy, "Beauty I Would Suffer For" [on ppt.]; Kennedy, "In a Prominent Bar" [on ppt]; Stafford, "Traveling Through the Dark," 903; Updike, "Dog’s Death," 746; Nemerov, "Walking the Dog," 1250; Bottoms, "Crawling Out at Parties" [on Power Point]; | Power Point: Introduction to Poetry 2 and Poetry 3

11/7/13—Poetry: Poems About Animals | Emily Dickinson | A Study of Emily Dickinson, 1041 | Poems by Emily Dickinson, 1052 | Voices and Visions Film | Power Points: Poems about Animals | Dickinson

Week 12

11/12/13—Poetry: Langston Hughes | A Study of Langston Hughes, 1129 | Poems by Langston Hughes, 1134 | Without Sanctuary | Harlem Renaissance | Hughes ( | Model Hughes Essay | Voices and Visions Film | Power Point: Hughes

11/14/13—Poetry: e. e. cummings | Poems by e. e. cummings, 897, 1000, 1323 [and on Power Point] | Power Point: Cummings

Week 13

11/19/13—Poetry: Mary Oliver | Poems by Mary Oliver [on Power Point] | "Starlings in Winter" (blog entry) | Power Point: Oliver

11/21/13—Poetry: Gary Snyder | Poems by Gary Snyder [on Power Point]; | Gary Snyder on Poetry and Ecology (YouTube) | "About Gary Snyder" (Modern American Poetry) | Power Point: Snyder

Week 14

11/26/13—Poetry: Singer/Songwriters as Poets | Power Point: Singer/Songwriters

11/28/13—Thanksgiving (no class)

Week 15

12/3/13—Poetry: Billy Collins | A Study of Billy Collins, 1158 | "Everyday Moments, Caught in Time" (TED Talk) | Colbert Interviews Billy Collins | Power Point: Collins | Essay 2 Due

12/10/2013Poetry Exam: 330-530 | Take Home Final: Due by 600 am, 12/13—/2013