online syllabus:


electronic reserves:
(password 100)

bedford companion:


class handouts:

~ schedule ~

 Literature 100:  Reading of Literature

Fiction ~ Poetry ~ Drama

Fall 2008

Dr. Abby Coykendall

acoykenda at

Office Phone: 487-0147

Office Location: Pray-Harrold Hall 603G

Hours: Mon. 7:40-8:40 PM; Thurs. 2:00-3:30 PM
Mon. & Wed 9:30-10:45 AM

~ email for appointments ~

Section 010; Registration #14326
Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15 PM
Pray Harrold Hall 306

Course Description

LITR 100 is a class in which you will explore a wide variety of literature—novels, short stories, poetry, and drama—spanning the Renaissance period to the present and encompassing authors from around the world.  The main goal is to provide a general introduction to literature that will inspire you to appreciate and cultivate the literary arts through further writing, reading, or coursework on your own.  By the end of the semester, you will have surveyed an array of representative works written in English, honed your artistic sensibility and analytical skills, and familiarized yourself with the conventions of literature enough to think carefully and creatively about them.  Whether discussing poetry or world events, we will expand rather than confine our engagement with the literature, ultimately coming to understand how the literary imagination offers a way to (re)envision and potentially (re)create the everyday world in which we live.

Course Objectives:

By the end of the semester, you will be better able to

1)   Interpret literature from a wide variety of historical and cultural contexts, including mass media and popular culture;

4)   Deepen appreciation of the humanities by examining the artistic techniques and thematic concerns of major literary works;

2)   Broaden life experience through engagement with the diverse traditions and perspectives found in imaginative literature;

3)   Understand the vital ways in which literature influences culture and culture influences literature in turn;

5)   Practice critical thinking skills (e.g. self-reflexivity, close reading, textual analysis) while investigating and debating the communal meaning of texts;

6)   Become familiar with the main concepts and concerns of literary criticism, especially those which are useful for lifelong learning within or outside the classroom;

7)   Effectively communicate this newly acquired knowledge about literature verbally and in writing.

General Education Rationale:

Literature captures the hopes, politics, emotions and ideals not just of individuals but of generations.  Reading literature provides a window into cultures past.  It also reveals how creative expressions can shape individual and community understandings of the world in which we live. Literature 100 is designed to cultivate students’ appreciation of literary texts by providing a context to learn about the formal and historical features of different kinds of poems, plays, and works of fiction.  As a Humanities course in the Knowledge of the Disciplines, this class introduces terms important for the critical understanding of poetry, drama, and fiction as imaginative literary forms.  It also helps students analyze poems, plays, and stories as products of the cultures that produced them and as texts that have impacted and influenced societies.  Because the course focuses on different types of literature in historical contexts, students will gain a nuanced understanding of the cultural meaning of poetry, drama, and fiction and learn to interpret literary texts as complex social practices that are also meaningful as human art.

Course Books and Materials:

The following books are available at the EMU Bookstore in the Student Center.  If you order books online, make sure to get the same editions by double checking the ISBN number, a fingerprint of sorts for each book:

Literature: A Portable Anthology, edited by Janet E. Gardner
(Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003; ISBN #0312412797)

Alice Walker, The Color Purple (Harvest Books, 2003; ISBN # 0156028352)

The remaining texts can be found online and then printed for free in the campus computer labs.  See the Electronic Reserves (ER):, password 100. 

*** Make sure to bring a copy of each text that we cover in class, whether found in the ER or in an actual book.  You will need everything on hand for groupwork and class discussion.

Coursework and Assessment:

Nothing is more vital for success in this course than keeping up with the reading due each class period.  Being prepared to discuss the reading in class, if only in small groups, is mandatory.  If an emergency keeps you from doing the homework, it is better not to come to class at all since you will get little from the lecture and discussion and interfere with the learning of other students. 

A brief, straight-forward quiz may be given at the beginning of the period to encourage you to come on time and come prepared.  These quizzes, however inconvenient, will ultimately enhance your grade, for the more consistently you come prepared, the more you will enjoy and understand the readings, contribute to the class discussion, and approach the literature in a way that reflects your unique interests and learning style.  A student who does the reading consistently can usually get a superlative grade of “A” rather easily, whereas a student doing very little reading (or doing the reading belatedly) will have difficulty simply passing the course and may even risk having to take it again. 


Participation: Homework, quizzes, groupwork, & poetry presentation

due dates:


Exam #1: Short fiction & the novel



Comparison-Contrast Essay: Poem from presentation plus a self-selected song or poem of choice



Exam #2: Poetry and drama

December 12



Each of the exams will have two sections: 1) true-false and multiple-choice questions on the main concepts that we cover in class and 2) an essay question provided to you in advance.  Make sure to take notes during class so that your first section goes smoothly and you have plenty of inspiration for the second.  You will be able refer to an essay outline during the exams, but not to your notes or the texts themselves. 

The Coursework and Extra Credit handout (/assign.htm) describes the various assignments due during the term, as well as the extra-credit opportunities available to supplement your learning.  (Extra credit is an ideal way to get your grade back on track if you ever fall behind.)  The Guidelines handout, posted towards the middle of the term, will give in-depth information about the presentation and essay (/guide.htm).

Instructor Availability:

I will be delighted to discuss any course-related questions, interests, or concerns in person or by phone during my office hours, as well as through email.  Email is the most reliable way to reach me outside of the office since the messaging system for my phone is dysfunctional at best.  Emails with straight-forward questions usually receive a reply within a few hours to a day; those with more complicated questions usually receive a reply before the next class period.  Please limit your email inquiries to questions which I alone can answer so that I can give more pressing inquiries the attention which they deserve.  For example, if you are unsure about a due date, consult the syllabus, the handouts, or the peers in your group (/groups.htm), and then consult me only if that confusion persists. 

The first time that you visit my office hours in person with a course-related inquiry (e.g. to get help with the homework, to discuss the reading that we have lately covered, or to brainstorm essay ideas), I will give you extra credit for the visit. 


Because this class primarily consists of reading and discussion—rather than facts, figures, or memorization—regular attendance is crucial.  You never need to explain your absences, as I always assume that you have an excellent reason to miss class; however, if you have more than 8 absences, you will no longer be able to pass the class, and if you have more than 5 absences, your final grade will start being reduced by a third.  That is, the 6th absence turns a final grade of A into an A-, the 7th turns it into a B+, the 8th turns it into a B, and finally the 9th turns it into an E.

Reserve the allowable absences for illnesses, car accidents, or other emergencies that prevent you from coming to school and make sure not to exhaust them too early in the term.  When you are absent, contact the students in your group (/groups.htm) to share notes or determine what you missed.  Do not contact me to get your absence excused.  All absences up to the sixth are automatically excused, and the missed homework is simply due on your return.  If there are any changes to the schedule, I will contact the entire class by email.


The most essential information—due dates, attendance, instructions, clarifications of outstanding issues—is given at the beginning of class, so it is important to come on time.  Try to arrive early just in case you encounter any problems along the way (traffic jams, late busses, no parking).  When you are late, make sure to mark yourself present on the attendance sheet.  Arriving halfway into the period or leaving halfway through one each count as half an absence.  Extreme or habitual lateness can result in absences as well.

Classroom Etiquette:

It is important to be mindful of your peers in class, listening to them with the same respect and attention that you hope to receive yourself.  Once class begins, do not distract your peers by text messaging, playing computer games, or packing up books before the period is finished.  Instead of disturbing nearby students with half-whispered inquires, raise your hand and bring them to the attention of class, especially since many students will have the same questions anyway. 

Most importantly, do not walk in or out of the room unless there is a genuine emergency.  If you have a medical condition requiring you to exit from time to time, bring a formal doctor’s note affirming as such; otherwise, stay in the room for the duration of the period and reserve personal business for the break midway through.  If you do leave prematurely, do not interrupt class yet again by coming back.  These disruptive exits can be both mental and physical; for example, students discovered using laptops for purposes unrelated to the course will be asked to leave and marked absent.

Academic Integrity:

Fundamental to any college course is the free expression of thought, which requires not only learning the subject, but being able to make independent judgments about it.  Understanding and avoiding plagiarism, and doing all course work on your own, is therefore crucial.  Copying the assignments of peers, having parents or roommates do your homework, taking credit for essays which you find on the internet, or recycling your own essays for double credit are all forms of academic dishonesty, and for very good reason.  Each interferes with the sole purpose, and the unique benefit, of going to college; namely, the unfettered exercise of an informed mind. 

Plagiarism, put simply, is taking either the ideas or the words of another person and reusing them as if they are your own.  It does not matter whether you are drawing on Wikipedia for mundane information or channeling the most holy of holy books for heavenly inspiration, you must acknowledge when you make use of the concepts or expressions of other people under any circumstances.  When describing the ideas of someone else in your own words, make sure to state as such (So and so says X ... ); most importantly, when inserting the words of someone else into your writing, make sure to credit that person for the passage and place quotation marks on either side (So and so says, “X”).  Writing that lacks such acknowledgements will pass as your own by default, and writing that thus seems to be your own, without actually being your own, will be plagiarizing the original source. 

Any cheating, plagiarism, or other academic dishonesty will result in an automatic 0% grade for the assignment; any second instance will result in an outright failure of the course.  There is no excuse for academic dishonesty, nor any exceptions to this policy. 


Wednesday, September 3: Overview of Course; Student Introductions; Conjectural Response/HOMEWORK: 1] Get Books; 2] Review the syllabus carefully and jot down any questions that you have; 3] Begin “Introduction to Fiction” (pg. 7-20) in the Electronic Reserves (ER):, password 100; 4] Read Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal” (found in the same location or in the anthology); 5] Bring copies of everything to class (do the same for all classes to follow).

Monday, September 8: Discuss Elements of Fiction & Ellison /HOMEWORK: 1] Finish “Introduction to Fiction” (ER 21-25); 2] Read “No Name Woman” by Maxine Hong Kingston (ER 2239-47); 3] See the Group Assignments handout (; 4]  Make a list of 3-4 significant ways that the Ellison and Kingston stories compare (or contrast) with each other, focusing on different aspects of the stories depending on your group number: plot (Group 1), characterization (Groups 2 & 3),  point of view (Group 4), themes (Groups 5 & 6), setting (Group 7), style and symbolization (Group 8); 5] Be prepared to discuss (and turn in) your list during class.

Wednesday, September 10: Continue Elements of Fiction, Discuss Kingston/HOMEWORK: 1] Read “Role of Good Reading” in Literature: A Portable Anthology (LPA), pg. 1267-77; 2] Read Louise Erdrich, “Saint Marie” (ER  XXX) and “Comparison: An Analytic Tool” (ER  1-2); 3] If you are in Groups 1-4, write a response comparing and contrasting “Saint Marie” with “Battle Royal”; if you are in Groups 5-8, do the same with “Saint Marie” and “No Name Woman” (for guidance, see

Monday, September 15: Discuss Erdrich and the Responses/HOMEWORK: 1] Read (and re-read) John Cheever, “The Swimmer” (LPA 82-96); 2] Note down 3-4 examples of literary devices, focusing on different ones depending on your group number: flashback or foreshadowing (Group 1), archetype (Group 2), metaphor or simile (Group 3), dramatic irony (Group 4), situational irony or paradox (Group 5), verbal irony (Group 6), imagery (Group 7), foil or antagonist (Group 8); 3] See the definitions for these literary devices in the Bedford anthology (LPA 1430+) and be prepared to discuss your list during class.

Wednesday, September 17: Review Literary Devices; Discuss Cheever/HOMEWORK: 1] Begin Alice Walker, The Color Purple (pg. 1-100); 2] Read “Fiction across Media” (ER 1-4); 3] Be prepared to compare and contrast the novel with the film adaptation that will be shown in class (the film is on reserve at the library if you are absent).

Monday, September 22: Watch and Discuss The Color Purple /HOMEWORK: 1] Continue The Color Purple (pg. 100-40); 2] Begin “The Writing Process” (LPA 1278-82); 3] Make a list of 1 important theme and 3-4 symbols, images, motifs, ironies, or conflicts that Walker uses to evoke that theme; 4] Be prepared to discuss your list during class.

Wednesday, September 24: Watch and Discuss The Color Purple /HOMEWORK: 1] Continue The Color Purple (pg. 141-200); 2] Begin “Common Writing Assignments” (LPA 1302-14); 3] Be prepared to discuss how different kinds of literary critics would approach the novel depending on your group number: feminist (Group 1), marxist (Group 2), cultural (Group 3), historical (Group 4), psychological (Group 5), reader response (Group 6), formalist or structuralist (Group 7), poststructuralist (Group 8).

Monday, September 29: Watch and Discuss The Color Purple /HOMEWORK: 1] Continue The Color Purple (pg. 201-40); 2] Continue “The Writing Process” (LPA 1282-5); 3] Finish “Common Writing Assignments” (LPA 1314-7).

Wednesday, October 1: Watch and Discuss The Color Purple /HOMEWORK: 1] Finish The Color Purple (pg. 241-300); 2] Finish “The Writing Process(ER 1293-1300); 3] Email a response comparing and contrasting the literary and filmic versions of the Walker novel to acoykenda at by 10AM Monday.

Monday, October 6: Continue Discussion of The Color Purple /HOMEWORK: 1] Review Guidelines for Exam One (; 3] Begin reviewing literary texts and preparing outline for essay section; 3] Optional: Read “Writing about Stories,” as well as the sample essay, for review (LPA 1318-24).

Wednesday, October 8: Conclude Discussion of The Color Purple /HOMEWORK: 1] Continue preparing for Exam One (; 3] Finish the essay outline (make sure that it fits on 1 page and has no complete sentences besides the supporting quotes and thesis).

Monday, October 13: ** Exam One: The Short Story and Novel**/HOMEWORK: 1] Read “Things to Think about When You Think about Poetry” (ER); 2] Read (and re-read) the following: i) Langston Hughes, “Harlem” (LPA 539); ii) Dorothy Parker, “Résumé” (ER); iii) Adrienne Rich, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” (ER); iv) Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Kahn” (LPA 435).

Wednesday, October 15: Introduction to Poetry /HOMEWORK: 1] Begin “Writing about Poetry” (ER 200-21); 2] Read (and re-read) the following: i) Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” (LPA 556-57); ii) Theodore Roethke, “My Papa’s Waltz” (LPA 547); iii) Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” (LPA 559); 3] Review “Guidelines on the Presentation and Essay” (; 4] Begin surveying the anthology and selecting possible poems to discuss for your presentation; 5] Optional: Listen to the audio files for Thomas, Roethke, and Brooks (ER).

Monday, October 20: Discuss the Poetry and Presentation/HOMEWORK: Finish “Writing about Poetry” (ER 225-36); 2] Read the following: i) Edgar Allen Poe, “A Dream Within a Dream” (ER); ii) Edna St. Vincent Millay, “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed” (ER); iii) Marge Piercy, “The Secretary Chant” (ER), iv) Dorothy Parker, “Résumé” (ER); 3] Make a list of 3-4 examples of a literary device found in any or all of these poems, focusing on a different one depending on your group number: oxymoron or paradox (Group 1), hyperbole or understatement (Group 2), simile, symbol, or metaphor (Group 3), alliteration, (Group 4), assonance, consonance, or onomatopoeia (Group 5), personification or apostrophe (Group 6), non-visual imagery or synesthesia (Group 7), allegory, intertextuality, or allusion (Group 8); 4] See the definitions for these devices in the Bedford anthology (LPA 1430+) and be prepared to discuss your list during class.

Wednesday, October 22: Discuss the poetry and review terminology /HOMEWORK: 1] Email a list of the 3 poems that you most want to present to class (in the order that you most want to do them) as soon as possible to acoykenda at or, if necessary, bring the list by hand to class.

Monday, October 27:  Watch and Discuss Glass Menagerie/HOMEWORK: 1] Begin Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie (LPA 956-71), taking note of any poetic or literary devices in the play.

Wednesday, October 29: Watch and Discuss Glass Menagerie/HOMEWORK: 1] Complete “Poetry Questionnaire” ( and prepare for presentation; 2] Continue Glass Menagerie (LPA 971-94); 3] Optional: Read poems being presented over the coming weeks (, especially those that seem possible companions for your own poem in the essay.

Monday, November 3:  Group 8 Presentations; Discuss Glass Menagerie /HOMEWORK: 1] Finish Glass Menagerie (LPA 995-1011)

Wednesday, November 5: Group 7 Presentations; Conclude Glass Menagerie /HOMEWORK: 1] Begin “Introduction to Drama” (ER 839-47) and be prepared to discuss it in class.

Monday, November 10: Group 6 Presentations; Discuss Theater Conventions/HOMEWORK: 1] Finish “Introduction to Drama” (ER 847-55) and be prepared to discuss it in class; 2] Begin work on the 4-page Critical Essay due XXX.

Wednesday, November 12: Group 5 Presentations; Discuss Theater Conventions/HOMEWORK: 1] Review “The Writing Process” in its entirety, especially pg. 1280-2, and finish the remaining section (LPA 1285-90); 2] Read “Writing about Poems” (LPA 1325-30); 3] Continue working on the Critical Essay.

Monday, November 17: Group 4 Presentations; Discuss Writing Technique/HOMEWORK: 1] Continue working on the Critical Essay.

Wednesday, November 19:  Groups 2 & 3 Presentations/HOMEWORK: 1] Begin finalizing the Critical Essay.

Monday, November 24: Group 1 & 2 Presentations/HOMEWORK: 1] Finish the Critical Essay.

Wednesday, November 26: ** Critical Essay Due at 603G Pray Harrold by 5 PM ** (optional conferences in lieu of class) / HOMEWORK: 1] Begin Charyl Churchill, Top Girls (LPA 1091-1123), taking note of any connections to The Glass Menagerie as well as the theatrical conventions discussed in previous weeks.

Monday, December 1: Discuss Top Girls /HOMEWORK: 1] Finish Top Girls (LPA 1123-52); 2] Review Handout on Exam Two (; 2] Review “Taking Essay Exams” (LPA 1314-7); 3] Prepare Draft of Outline for Exam Two.

Wednesday, December 3:  Groupwork on Glass Menagerie & Top Girls /HOMEWORK: 1] Write a 300-word response comparing and contrasting Streetcar and Lysistrata.

Discuss Streetcar & Lysistrata /HOMEWORK: 1] Read Conjectural Response from first day of class; 2] Write Optional 300-word Extra-Credit Response on the Conjectural Response (due 4/24).

Discuss Top Girls; Discuss Conjectural Responses /HOMEWORK:

Monday, December 8:  Review for Exam Two /HOMEWORK: 1] Review Materials and Finalize Outline for Exam Two; 2] Optional: Read “Writing about Plays,” as well as the sample essay, for review (LPA 1331-37).

Wednesday, December 10:

Friday, December 12 (1:30-3:00): ** Exam Two: Poetry and Drama **


DRAMA then poetry

List of Links:

·     Course Syllabus   (

·     Course Scedule   (

·     Electronic Reserves   (

·     Coursework and Extra-Credit   (

·     Bedford Companion Website   (

·     Guidelines on Exam One   (

·     Group Assignements   (

·     Guidelines on the Presentation and Essay   (

·     Poetry Questionaire   (

·     Presentation Scedule   (

·     Peer Editing   (

·     Guidelines on Exam Two   (


 [Syllabus last modified August 28, 2008]