online syllabus:


electronic reserves: (password 100)

library research: acoykenda/demo.htm

halle library website:


~ schedule ~


Literature 100: Reading of Literature
Introduction to Literature
poetry ~ fiction ~ drama


winter 2006

Dr. Abby Coykendall

Office Phone: (734) 487-0147

Office Location: Pray-Harrold Hall 603G
Office Hours: Monday 5-6 & Thursday 11-3 PM

~ or email for an appointment ~

Section 014; Registration #26652
Monday & Wednesday
3:30- 4:45 PM
Pray Harrold Hall 319




Course Description: Reading of Literature

Literature 100 is a class in which you will explore a wide variety of literature — novels, short stories, poetry, and drama — ranging in period from the fifteenth-century to the present and encompassing authors from around the world.  The aim is to provide a general introduction to literature, including an examination of the major literary movements, periods, and genres.  By the end of the course, you will have surveyed representative works written in English, honed your interpretative skills, familiarized yourself with literary conventions, and learned to think critically and carefully about those conventions.  Whether discussing literature or world events, we will attempt to expand rather than confine our engagement with the material, ultimately coming to understand how literature offers a means to (re)envision and hopefully to (re)create the material world in which we all live.


Course Objectives

By the end of the semester, students will be able to

1)   Develop an aesthetic appreciation of literature, including an understanding of the generic and formal conventions of literary works;

2)   Broaden life experience through imagination, empathy, and engagement with diverse narratives and perspectives;

3)   Learn to comprehend, analyze, and interpret literature within various historical, philosophical, and cultural contexts, studying a wide selection of canonical and non-canonical texts from different literary periods;

4)   Understand the reciprocal relationships between literature and culture, becoming aware of the ways that literature effects culture and culture effects literature;

5)   Enhance critical-thinking skills through self-reflexivity, as well as through reflection on cultures foreign and familiar;

6)   Become conversant in the terminology, debates, and practices of literature and literary criticism;

7)   Communicate this newly acquired knowledge verbally and, when possible, in writing.


Required Texts

The following books are available at Ned’s bookstore (; 483-6400; 707 W. Cross Street), although additional copies may be available at other EMU bookstores.  Make sure to get the same editions pictured and listed above; otherwise, the differing page numbers will make it difficult, if not impossible, for you to follow along with class discussions.

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

v       Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Dover Thrift, 1991; ISBN # 0486266885)

v       Aristophanes, Lysistrata (Dover Thrift, 1994; ISBN # 0486282252)

v       Tennessee Williams, Streetcar Named Desire, Intro. Arthur Miller (New Directions, 2004; ISBN # 0811216020)

Several required texts are located on the Halle Library’s Electronic Reserves (ER) website:  Contact another student if you forget the password, or see the top left-hand corner of the syllabus above.  It is best to print out the Electronic Reserve materials in one sitting in advance from the computers on the first floor of the Halle library, where you will see a station with multimedia computers equipped with the course-reserve software.  These computers are much more likely to be able to open the files (and to open them quickly) than your own computer. 


Make sure to bring a copy of each of the texts that we will be discussing to class, whether they be Electronic Reserve materials, one of the plays, the novel, or the anthology.  You will need to have the assigned material on hand for groupwork and class discussion. 




Participation (Homework, Responses, Groupwork,

Class Discussion, & Poetry Presentation)

due dates: 


Examination #1: Short Fiction & The Novel

February 15


Four-Page Critical Essay Analyzing a Poem (or Comparing and Contrasting Two Poems)

March 27


Examination #2: Poetry & Drama

Friday, April 28

(3:00 - 4:30 PM)


Nothing is more vital for success in this class than keeping up with, and actively engaging in, the weekly reading assignments and class discussions.  There may be periodic quizzes to ensure that you are keeping up with the reading assignments.  The participation grade, largely based on homework, responses, quizzes, in-class groupwork, and the poetry presentation, is a considerable portion of your final grade — 20% — so keep up with the various reading and response assignments and make your voice heard in class.  Late homework assignments are marked down only minimally, but they must be turned in within a week of the initial due date.  Your total participation points will be averaged, put on a fair grading curve, and then bumped up or down slightly depending on how actively you engage in class discussions.



Responses, or, in other words, informal, initial reactions to a select number of the readings (further described on the schedule below) — may be either handwritten or typed.  They should be at least 300 words (roughly two paragraphs), although longer or more engaged responses will not only enhance your grade, but also increase the ability of other students and myself to offer feedback.

Exams will consist of two sections: a brief objective section (either true-false or multiple-choice questions) on one of the genres of literature covered during the section (short fiction for Exam One; poetry for Exam Two), as well as a section with an essay question on the other genre covered during the section (the novel for Exam One; drama for Exam Two).  The essay questions will be provided to you in advance of the exams.  You will be able refer to an outline during the exams, but not to the texts themselves. 

Critical Essay, a four-page close reading in which you will analyze a poem of your choice from the Literature anthology, the same poem that you select for your poetry presentation, as well as (if you like) a second poem or song by way of contrast.  The second poem cannot otherwise be covered in class as required reading.  The essay will be given two grades — one for the quality of the theme and one for the quality of the writing — grades which will be averaged together equally for a final percentage.  Handouts on writing about literature are available in the Supplemental Folder of the Electronic Reserves.

Extra-Credit Opportunities include the following: 1) Response on a Relevant Film or Contemporary Event: If you are reminded of issues addressed in this course outside of class, feel free to explore those thoughts more deeply in an extra-credit, 300-word response.  For instance, if some current event of especial interest to you seems uncannily reminiscent of the literature covered in this course, you can write a response to build bridges between this class and your ordinary life; 2) Extra-Credit Peer-Review of Another Student’s Critical Essay: It would be a good idea to exchange papers with another student in the class to peer review his or her essay and have your own essay peer reviewed in return.  See the Rubric on Peer Editing ( for guidelines on how to document your work.  It would be helpful to review this rubric even if you do not plan to partake in peer review; 3) Extra-Credit Response on the Conjectural Response: After I return the conjectural responses at the end of the term, you can write another 300-word response on that response, discussing the extent to which your expectations about literature were (or were not) confirmed by the literature that you read over the course of the semester.



Because this class primarily consists of reading and discussion — rather than facts, figures, or memorization — attendance is crucial.  You may be absent five times without penalty.  Each absence after that will result in a reduction of your final grade by one-third the letter grade: that is, the sixth class missed will turn a final grade of an A into an A-; the seventh, into a B+; and so on.  Aside from the grade reduction, missing classes will hinder your ability to do the assignments properly and promptly.  If you are absent from class, contact another student to fill you in on missed work before contacting me.  Above all, make sure to withdraw from the course if you find that you cannot attend class regularly or fall too far behind in the reading.


The five absences are for emergencies, so if you are absent from the class five times early in the semester, do not expect a reprieve from the rule if you become gravely ill or have other extenuating circumstances towards the end of the term.  If there is a documented emergency (a death in the family, lost limb, prison term, &c.) at the end of the semester, I will go out of my way to help in any way I can, including giving an incomplete, supposing that you have otherwise kept up with the assignments, attended class regularly, and finished a majority of the course. 


If you are not chronically late, there will be no penalty for lateness.  However, lateness can have several undesirable consequences: you may miss crucial information (such as the extension of a deadline) often covered in the first ten minutes of class and, of course, you will likely distract other students and myself while entering the room.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you have not been marked absent because you were late.  


Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is a very serious offense against the Code of Student Conduct.  Any plagiarized writing will automatically result in a failing, zero-percent grade for the assignment, as well as in further disciplinary action from the Student Judicial Services if egregious.  The general rule is that if you use three or more words of another writer in a row without enclosing those words in quotation marks and acknowledging your source, you are guilty of plagiarism. 

See for more specific guidelines on plagiarism.  With the internet, plagiarism is easy and tempting to do; however, the internet also makes plagiarism that much more easy for professors to catch and document, so do not even think about doing it in this class or elsewhere.  **Note: turning a paper in that you wrote for another course for this course, i.e. recycling the same words for double credit, also constitutes academic dishonesty at EMU. 



Monday, January 9: Introduction to Course; Student Introductions; First-day Conjectural Responses / Homework: 1] Get Books; 2] Carefully read the syllabus and jot down any questions that you have; 3] Read “Role of Good Reading” in Literature: A Portable Anthology (LPA), pg. 1267-77; 4] Read Michael Herr, “Dispatches,” pg. 200-208, in the Electronic Reserves (ER):, password 100; 5] Bring copies of the ER materials and the book to class, as well as to the classes that follow.

Wednesday, January 11: Continue Introduction to Literature; Discuss Herr / Homework: 1] Read Ambrose Bierce, “Chickamauga” (ER 213-18); 2] Begin reading “Analyzing Fiction” (ER 1-12); 3] Review Discussion Questions for Bierce; 4] Re-Read “Chickamauga” (ER 213-218); 5] Write a 300-word response comparing and contrasting “Dispatches” and “Chickamauga.”

Monday, January 16: No Class: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Wednesday, January 18: Discuss Approaches to Literature; Discuss Bierce / Homework: 1] Finish “Analyzing Fiction” (ER 12-21); 2] Read Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal” (LPA 1385; 196-208); 3] Answer one of the questions on pg. 20-21 of “Analyzing Fiction” for the Ellison story, transcribing a brief passage from the story to support your claims.

Monday, January 23: Discuss the Elements of Fiction; Discuss Ellison / Homework: 1] Read the glossary definitions for a) “Allegory,” b) “Allusion” and “Intertextuality,” c) “Irony” (Dramatic, Situational, and Verbal), d) “Paradox,” and e) “Symbol” (LPA 1430+); 2] Read Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Yellow Wallpaper” (LPA 1388-89; 82-96), noting down examples of at least three of the devices above (a-e).

Wednesday, January 25: Jigsaw Literary Devices; Discuss Gilman / Homework: 1] Review Handout on the Gillman/Ellison Debate; 2] Re-Read either the Gilman story or the Ellison story, making a list of details to support either Proposition A or Proposition B.

Monday, January 30: Debate on “Yellow Wallpaper” and “Battle Royal” / Homework: 1] Begin reading Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Chapt. 1-4 (pg. 1-17); 2] Find examples of at least three symbols (include page numbers), explaining briefly how they illuminate or enrich the theme of the narrative.

Wednesday, February 1: Watch and Discuss Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (98 min.) / Homework: 1] Begin Reading “Common Writing Assignments” (LPA 1302-10); 2] Continue reading Stevenson, Strange Case, Chapt. 5-8 (pg. 18-35); 3] Optional: Read “Analyzing Film” (ER 54-66).

Monday, February 6: Watch and Discuss Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde / Homework: 1] Finish “Common Writing Assignments” (LPA 1310-17); 2] Finish Stevenson, Strange Case, Chapt. 9-10 (pg. 36-54); 3] Write a 300-word response comparing and contrasting the literary and filmic versions of the Stevenson novel, approaching them as you imagine one of the literary critics would; e.g. a Marxist, feminist, or formalist; 4] If you were absent and missed the film, you can write a response on the novel itself in a similar fashion.

Wednesday, February 8: Discuss Narrative in Cinema and Literature; Groupwork on Critical Approaches to Literature and Stevenson / Homework: 1] Review Handout on Exam One (; 2] Read “The Writing Process” (LPA 1278-90; 1293-95); 3] Read “Taking Essay Exams” (LPA 1314-17).

Monday, February 13: Review for Exam One on the Short Story and Novel / Homework: 1] Review Materials and Prepare Outline for Exam One; 2] Optional: Read “Writing about Stories,” as well as the sample essay, for review (LPA 1318-24).

Wednesday, February 15: ** 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 poems: a) Langston Hughes, “Harlem” (LPA 1396; 539); b) Wallace Stevens, “Disillusionment of Ten O’clock” (LPA 1420; 513-14); c) Sharon Olds, “I Go Back to May 1939” (LPA 1410; 639).

Monday, February 20: Watch Poets on Video (Hughes, Stevens, Olds) / Homework: 1] Begin reading “Analyzing Poetry” (ER 22-29); 2] Read (and re-read) the following poems: a) Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” (LPA 1421; 556-57); b) Theodore Roethke, “My Papa’s Waltz” (LPA 1415; 547); c) Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” (LPA 1376; 559); Listen to the audio files for Thomas, Roethke, and Brooks (ER).

Wednesday, February 22: Discuss Poetry, Poetics, and Poetic Terminology / Homework: Finish “Analyzing Poetry” (ER 29-41); 2] Review the glossary definitions of the following literary devices: oxymoron, metaphor, simile, image, personification, alliteration, assonance, and consonance (LPA 1443+); 3] Find an example of at least four of these literary devices (in four different poems) as you read (and re-read) the following: a) William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 18” (LPA 1416; 379); b) Edgar Allen Poe, “A Dream Within a Dream” (LPA 1412; ER, 1 pg.); c) Edna St. Vincent Millay, “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed” (LPA 1406; ER, 1 pg.); d) Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Kahn” (LPA 1380; 435); 3] Optional: Begin reviewing the anthology to select the poem for your poetry presentation (see the homework for March 8); if you email the list to me early, you are more likely to get your first choice; also email if you are interested in presenting early (on March 13) for extra credit.

Monday, February 27: No Class: Winter Recess

Wednesday, March 1: No Class: Winter Recess

Monday, March 6: Continue discussing poetry, poetics, and poetic terminology / Homework: 1] Read (and re-read) the following poems: a) Adrienne Rich, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” (LPA 1414; ER, 1 pg.); b) Marge Piercy, “The Secretary Chant” (LPA 1411; ER, 1 pg.); c) e. e. cummings, “next to of course god america I” (LPA 1381; ER, 1 pg.); d) Dorothy Parker, “Résumé” (ER, 1 pg.).

Wednesday, March 8: Discuss Poetry, Poetry Presentations, & the Critical Essay / Homework: 1] Read the “Poetry Presentations” handout (; 2] Review the anthology and select a poem to discuss for your poetry presentation (a poem in the anthology that we have not already covered in class); 3] Write a list of three poems that you most want to discuss, in the order that you most want to discuss them; 4] ** If you are absent, email this list to me ( as soon as possible.**

Monday, March 13: Extra-Credit Poetry Presentations / Homework: 1] Answer the questions on the Poetry Presentations” handout (ER); 2] Prepare for Poetry Presentation.

Wednesday, March 15: Poetry Presentations / Homework: 1] Review the Handout on Critical Essay (; 2] Read “Writing about Poems,” as well as the sample essay (LPA 1325-30); 3] Work on the four-page analysis of your poem (due Monday, March 27).

Monday, March 20: Poetry Presentations / Homework: 1] Work on Critical Essay (four pages, due Monday, March 27).

Wednesday, March 22: Poetry Presentations / Homework: 1] Finish Critical Essay (four pages, due Monday, March 27).

Monday, March 27: Watch & Discuss Streetcar Named Desire (122 min.) / Homework: 1] Read “Tragedy & Comedy” (ER, 1 pg.); 2] Begin reading Tennessee Williams, Streetcar Named Desire [SND 1-45]

Wednesday, March 29: Watch & Discuss Streetcar Named Desire / Homework: 1] Read “Analyzing Drama” (ER 42-53); 2] Continue reading Williams, Streetcar Named Desire [SND 46-84].

Monday, April 3: Discuss Dramatic Conventions and Streetcar / Homework: 1] Read the glossary definitions of the following literary terms: climax, anticlimax, catharsis, hubris (LPA 1431+); 2] Continue reading Williams, Streetcar Named Desire [SND 85-128].

Wednesday, April 5: Jigsaw Literary Devices; Groupwork on Streetcar / Homework: 1] Finish Williams, Streetcar Named Desire [SND 129-79]

Monday, April 10: Continue Groupwork on Streetcar / Homework: 1] Read the glossary definitions of the following literary terms: farce, satire, parody, pun, sarcasm, hyperbole (LPA 1431+); 2] Read Aristophanes, Lysistrata, halfway through, including the prefatory material.

Wednesday, April 12: Jigsaw Literary Devices; Discuss Lysistrata / Homework: 1] Finish Aristophanes, Lysistrata; 2] Write a 300-word response comparing and contrasting Streetcar and Lysistrata.

Monday, April 17: 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).

Wednesday, April 19: Discuss Conjectural Responses / Homework: 1] Review Handout on Exam Two (; 2] Review “Taking Essay Exams” (LPA 1314-17); 3] Prepare Draft of Outline for Exam Two.

Monday, April 24: 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).

Friday, April 28 (3:00 - 4:30 PM): ** Exam Two: Poetry and Drama **


 [Syllabus last modified January 7, 2006]