The Experience of Literature | Spring 2013

ENGL 2030-60 [TR 420-545 | PH 308]

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


Dr. David Lavery

Office: PH 372 | Office Hours:  M 500-600; T-Th 230-330; other times by arrangement | E-mail: | Office Phone/Voice-Mail: 615-898-5648 | Home Page:

Dr. David Lavery is Professor of English 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. In the Fall of 2013, he will become the Director of Graduate Studies in English.


TEXT: The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing, Ninth 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. 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 the Walker Library, Room 362 (904-8237). 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. Think of your audience as your classmates; presume that the reader has read the work(s) in question. Don't even think about writing on a story or poem or play you have not read at least twice. Do not (NOT) write a plot summary. Since 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. Like 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. The 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."  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. 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, 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.W

Tests: You will take three in-class cognitive-memory tests--on drama [Study Sheet Here], fiction [Study Sheet Here], and poetry [Study Sheet Here]--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.







Subject | Reading(s), Links | Requirements




Introduction to the Course | Housman, "Terence, This is Stupid Stuff" (also on Power Point)




Drama: Introduction to Drama | Oedipus, 1422 | A Synopsis of the Play | Tom Lehrer Sings About Oedipus | Rukeyser, "Myth" (also on Power Point) | Power Point: Oedipus



Drama: Oedipus (cont.) | Power Point: Oedipus




Drama: A Doll's House, 1709 | Power Point: Ibsen, History of Theatre: Greeks to the 19th Century



Drama: A Doll's House (cont.) | Power Points: Ibsen | History of Theatre: 20th Century




Drama: WAVW (cont.) | David Lavery and Nancy Roche, "Nichols's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf: Breaking the Code" | Power Point: WAVW



Drama: WAVW (cont.) | Power Point: WAVW




Drama: Web Series Drama: 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 Script | Power Point: Dr. Horrible



Drama: The Sitcom (I): Screening and Discussion of Seinfeld | David, Seinfeld, 1396 | Seinfeld Website | Seinfeld Handout | David Lavery on Modern Family, 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory. and How I Met Your Mother | Power Point: Seinfeld




Drama: The Sitcom (II): Screening and Discussion of Community ("Epidemology" [2.6]Onion TV Club; "Critical Film Studies" [2.19]Onion TV Club; "Remedial Chaos Theory" [3.4]Onion TV Club) | David Lavery on Community [Telegenic] | Greendale Community College Website | Power Point(s): Community



Fiction: Introduction to Fiction | Chopin, "The Story of an Hour," 15 | Power Point(s): Fiction; Chopin | Drama Exam




Fiction: Faulkner, "A Rose for Emily," 91; Nathaniel Hawthorne | A Study of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 395; "Young Goodman Brown", 402; "The Minister's Black Veil," 411; "The Birthmark," 420 | Hawthorne Prezi; Hawthorne Handout | Power Point: Faulkner; Hawthorne



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




Fiction: | Mansfield, "Miss Brill," 307; Boyle, "Carnal Knowledge," 569; Smith, "The Happy Memories Club" (also available in the Power Point) | Power Points: Mansfield; Boyle; Smith



No class. I will be in my office from 100-500 pm for anyone who wants to come by and talk about the first essay assignment.



Spring Break (No Class)




Class Cancelled



Fiction: Smith, "The Happy Memories Club" (also available in the Power Point) Dagoberto Gilb | "Love in L.A." 311; Junot Diaz, "Fiesta, 1980," 171; Packer, "Brownies," 356 | Power Points: Smith; Gilb|Diaz|Packer




Fiction: Flannery O'Connor | 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 | Essay 1 Due



Poetry: Introduction to Poetry | Il Postino | Stephen Colbert Interviews Elizabeth Alexander | Frost, "Stopping by Woods, 1122; Coursen, "A Parodic Interpretation of "Stopping by Woods," 1121; Collins, "Introduction to Poetry," 764; Pastan, "Marks," 883 | Power Point: Introduction to Poetry 1 | Fiction Exam




Poetry: Introduction to Poetry (cont.) | cummings, "she being Brand" (on Power Point) | Browning, "My Last Duchess," 910;  Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress," 812; Housman, "Athlete," 1331; Frost: "Mending Wall," 1100 & "After Apple-Picking," 1106; Yeats: "The Second Coming," 1356 | Power Point: Introduction to Poetry 2



Poetry: Introduction to Poetry (cont.) | 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]; Shakespearean Sonnets 18 & 130, 976 | Power Point: Introduction to Poetry 3




Poetry: Poems about Animals | Stafford, "Traveling Through the Dark," 903; Updike, "Dog’s Death," 746; Nemerov, "Walking the Dog," 1250; Bottoms, "Crawling Out at Parties" [on Power Point]; Yeats, "Leda and the Swan," 1356 | Power Point: Animals



Poetry: Emily Dickinson | Poems by Emily Dickinson (on Power Point) | Power Point: Dickinson




Poetry: Langston Hughes | Poems by Langston Hughes (on Power Point) | Without Sanctuary | Harlem Renaissance | Hughes ( | Model Hughes Essay | Power Point: Hughes



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




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



Poetry: The Singer-Songwriter as Poet: Leonard Cohen | Power Point: Cohen




Poetry: Billy Collins | A Study of Billy Collins, 1158 Poems by Collins (on Power Point) | Collins Reads His Poetry | "Nostalgia" | "Osso Buco" [the dish] | "Questions About Angels" [video] | "Litany" [video | a 3 year old recites "Litany"] | "Building with Its Face Blown Off" [video] | Power Point: Collins | Essay 2 Due


Poetry Exam: 2030-59--100-300 pm; 2030-60--330-530 pm

Take Home Final: Due by 5 pm (in D2L Drop Box)