Literature 101: Introduction to Fiction


fall 2002


Dr. Abby Coykendall

Office Phone: (734) 487-0147

Office Location: Pray-Harrold Hall 603G
Office hours: MWF 10:00 - 11:00 AM; MW 2:00-3:00

~ or by appointment ~



Section Three
Monday, Wednesday,
Friday 9:00-9:50 AM
Pray-Harrold Hall 307











Course Description


Literature 101 “Introduction to Fiction” is a class in which we will explore a variety of prose fiction, particularly novels and short stories, ranging in period from the eighteenth-century to the present.  We will begin with Isak Dinesen’s “The Cardinal’s First Tale,” which is not only a wonderful short story in and of itself, but also an investigation into the genre of fiction as a whole.  Dinesen will set the terms for what we will investigate throughout: the ways in which personal identity can be considered a mode of storytelling, the ways in which personal identity might work in relation to, and even in opposition to, the stories that our cultures (or our parents) tell of themselves, and the ways in which fictional narratives can impact the real, everyday world of lived experience.  We will see how fantastic tales of heroic adventure can become thinly disguised horror tales once taken in their historical context; however, we will also see how these narratives can offer a means to (re)envision and hopefully to (re)create the material world in which we all live.  Ultimately, whether discussing literature or world events, we will attempt to expand rather than confine our engagement with the material.




Texts & Materials


The Following Books are Available at the EMU Bookstore (McKenny Union, 487-1000):

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Oxford UP)

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Bedford/St. Martin's)

Octavia Butler, Kindred (Beacon Press)

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (Vintage/Random House)


Additional Materials:


Isak Dinesen, “The Cardinal’s First Tale”

Virginia Woolf, “Shakespeare’s Sister,” from A Room of One’s Own

Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place (selection)

Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (selection)

M. H. Abrams, “A Glossary of Literary Terms” (selection)

Guidelines on Essay Formatting & Organization


If you purchase books used or at other bookstores, please ensure that you get the same edition as the texts listed above; otherwise, the differing page numbers will make it difficult for you to follow along with the discussions and lectures.  There are numerous editions of Frankenstein, even many editions available online, but you will need the Bedford edition“Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism”because the Bedford edition has the criticism that we will use in class.





Course Itinerary



Section One:

The Short Story

Isak Dinesen, “Cardinal’s First Tale”;

Virginia Woolf, “Shakespeare’s Sister”


Main Assignment:

Responses & Discussion


Section Two:

Detective Fiction

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep; Octavia Butler, Kindred

Main Assignment:

Midterm Exam on basic elements of fiction (point of view, character, symbolism, etc.) and essay questions on course readings

Section Three:

The Novel

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe;

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Main Assignment:

Five-page essay on either novel (or both novels together) incorporating critics

Section Four:

Contemporary Fiction


Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place;

Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night;

Revisit Dinesen, “Cardinal’s Tale”


Main Assignment: Comprehensive Final Exam







Because this class consists primarily of reading and discussion — rather than facts, figures, and memorization — attendance is crucial.  You may be absent four 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 fifth class missed will turn a final grade of an A into an A-; the sixth, into a B+; and so on.  Aside from the grade reduction, missing classes will hinder your ability to do the assignments properly and promptly.  Although there will be no penalty for lateness, it can have several undesirable consequences: you may miss critical 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 while entering the room.  If you are absent from class, contact another student who can fill you in on missed work.  Above all, make sure to withdraw from the course if you find that you cannot attend class regularly. 







There will be a large number of writing assignments: informal responses, more formal essays, and essay exams.  The responses will be on subjects of your own choice, but must relate to the readings assigned for that day.  In contrast to the responses, the essays will offer a thorough examination of the readings and have the proper academic format.  The primary difference between a response and an essay is that with the responses, the mechanical elements of writing do not matter in the least, and the goal is to freely and openly express ideas; whereas, with the essays, the mechanical elements of writing must be attended to very thoroughly and the goal is to defend a focused argument clearly, coherently, and persuasively.  The final exam will have three sections — identification, short responses, and essay questions — and will comprehend both the fictional and critical materials that we have discussed in class.  You will be able refer to an outline during the final exam for the essay questions, but not to the books themselves.


The responses will be posted to the class listserv after each major reading assignment, or they may be handwritten if you have any difficulty accessing the internet.  Your responses should be at least one paragraph in length, 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.  Make sure to bring a copy of the novel or short story that we are discussing to class.  Also, make sure to keep up with the readings in order to have plenty of preparation for the essays and exams. 


As with any university course, homework will take around two hours for every hour of class, and thus you can expect each week to spend six hours outside of class completing the various assignments and readings.  We will review one writing handout — “Guidelines on Essay Formatting and Organization” — before you turn in your essays and prepare for the exams. 










Responses and Class Participation




Midterm Examination: Dinesen, Woolf, Chandler, & Butler

Exam Date:

October 14



Essay on Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe,

 Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or both novels (5 pg.)

Essay Due:

November 18



Final Examination: Comprehensive

Exam Date:

Monday, Dec. 16

9-10:30 AM


The essays will be given two grades: one for the quality of the theme and one for the quality of the writing.  Any late essay will drop a third of a grade for each day late; that is, an A paper will turn into A- if turned in one day late, an A paper will turn into B+ if turned in two days late, and so on.  Responses are worth up to 15 points; late responses are marked down just one grade, no matter how late, so as to encourage you to make up the readings and thereby prepare for the exams.  The best way to make up a response is by comparing the reading that you missed to that which the class is currently considering.  This will help both you and the other students make connections and comparisons that span the course as a whole.  The participation grade is a significant portion of your final grade — 20% — so keep up with the reading assignments and make your voice heard in class.  Your total response points will be averaged, put on a fair grading curve, and then bumped up or down considerably depending on how actively you engage in class discussions.




Academic Dishonesty


Any plagiarized writing or cheating on the exams will automatically result in a failing, zero-percent grade for the assignment.  Thus, if you plagiarize on the essay, you can expect, at most, to receive a B- (or 80%) for your final grade, supposing that you did everything else perfectly.  If you cheat or plagiarize on the final exam, you can expect, at most, to receive a D (or 65%) for your final grade, again supposing that you did everything else perfectly. 


With the internet, plagiarism is quite 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.  Plagiarism is a very serious offense against the Code of Student Conduct.  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 citing your source, you are guilty of plagiarism.  According to Funk and Wagnalls’ New Standard Dictionary (1921), plagiarism is the “act of plagiarizing or appropriating the ideas, writings, or inventions of another without due acknowledgment; specifically, the stealing of passages either for word or in substance, from the writings of another and publishing them as one’s own.”  In short, plagiarism is theft.





Week One:

Wednesday, September 4


Introduction / HOMEWORK: Get Books; Print out all online materials; Read Dinesen’s “The Cardinal’s First Tale”


Friday, September 6


Discuss “The Cardinal’s First Tale” / HOMEWORK: Re-read “The Cardinal’s First Tale”; Write Response


Week Two:

Monday, September 9


Discuss “The Cardinal’s First Tale” / HOMEWORK: Read Woolf’s “Shakespeare’s Sister”

Wednesday, September 11


Discuss “Shakespeare’s Sister” / HOMEWORK: Re-read “Shakespeare’s Sister”; Write Response

Friday, September 13


Discuss “The Cardinal’s First Tale” & “Shakespeare’s Sister” / HOMEWORK: Read Chandler’s Big Sleep, pg. 1-62


Week Three:

Monday, September 16


Discuss The Big Sleep / HOMEWORK: Read Big Sleep, pg. 63-119


Wednesday, September 18


Discuss The Big Sleep / HOMEWORK: Read Big Sleep, pg. 120-169


Friday, September 20


Discuss The Big Sleep / HOMEWORK: Finish Big Sleep, Write Response


Week Four:

Monday, September 23



Discuss The Big Sleep / HOMEWORK: Read Abrams’ “Glossary of Literary Terms,” find two examples of at least three of the literary concepts and bring your examples to class



Wednesday, September 25


Discuss The Big Sleep & “Glossary of Literary Terms” / HOMEWORK: Read Butler’s Kindred; Editor’s intro. & pg. 1-37



Friday, September 27



Discuss Kindred / HOMEWORK: Read Kindred, pg. 37-101


Week Five:


Monday, September 30



Discuss Kindred / HOMEWORK: Read Kindred, pg. 102-148



Wednesday, October 2



Discuss Kindred / HOMEWORK: Read Kindred, pg. 148-188




October 4



Discuss Kindred / HOMEWORK: Finish Kindred, Write Response




Monday, October 7


Discuss Kindred / HOMEWORK: Read “Guidelines on Essay Formatting & Organization”; Write a thesis, topic sentence, and body paragraph for an essay on Kindred


Wednesday, October 9


Review Essay Writing for Midterm Exam: Mon., September 30 / HOMEWORK: Review Dinesen, Woolf, Chandler, & Butler, re-reading passages and reviewing class notes; Write a response, with a topic sentence and supporting details & quotes,

comparing at least two of the readings



October 11


Review Readings for Midterm Exam: Mon., October 14 / HOMEWORK: Prepare Outlines for Midterm


Week Seven:

Monday, October 14


Midterm Exam / HOMEWORK: Read Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe; Ed.’s Intro. & pg. 3-33


Wednesday, October 16


Discuss Robinson Crusoe / HOMEWORK: Read Robinson Crusoe, pg. 33-76



October 18


Discuss Robinson Crusoe / HOMEWORK: Read Robinson Crusoe, pg. 76-133; Write Response




Monday, October 21


Discuss Robinson Crusoe / HOMEWORK: Read Robinson Crusoe, pg. 133-176


Wednesday, October 23


Discuss Robinson Crusoe / HOMEWORK: Read Robinson Crusoe, pg. 176-217



October 25


Discuss Robinson Crusoe / HOMEWORK: Finish Robinson Crusoe; Write Response


Week Nine:

Monday, October 28


Discuss Robinson Crusoe / HOMEWORK: Read Shelley’s Frankenstein, pg. 1-49


Wednesday, October 30


Discuss Frankenstein / HOMEWORK: Read Frankenstein, pg. 49-95


Friday, November 1


Discuss Frankenstein / HOMEWORK: Read Frankenstein, pg. 95-159




Monday, November 4


Discuss Frankenstein / HOMEWORK: Finish Frankenstein; Write Response


Wednesday, November 6


Discuss Frankenstein / HOMEWORK: Read “Cultural Documents” section; Write Response using one of the authors to illuminate Shelley


Friday, November 8


Discuss Frankenstein, “Cultural Documents,” & Literary

Critical Approaches to Fiction / HOMEWORK: Read “A Critical History”; Prepare for essays by reading at least one critic, applying the approach to Frankenstein anew or applying that approach to Robinson Crusoe instead, and discovering at least one way to critique the critic


Week Eleven:

Monday, November 11


Discuss Robinson Crusoe, Frankenstein, & literary critics / HOMEWORK: Prepare an outline for an essay on either Crusoe or Frankenstein (or on both novels), including an introduction, thesis statement, three topic sentences, at least two quotations

from the critic(s) that you will address, and at least three quotations from the

novels themselves (one quote for each body paragraph).  Be prepared to

present your essay ideas in class.


Wednesday, November 13


Discuss Robinson Crusoe, Frankenstein, and Essays (due Mon., November 18) / HOMEWORK: Work on Essays


Friday, November 15


Watch and Discuss clips from various Frankenstein and Crusoe film adaptations / HOMEWORK: Work on Essays


Week Twelve:

Monday, November 18


Watch and Discuss clips from various Frankenstein and Crusoe film adaptations / HOMEWORK: Read Kincaid’s A Small Place


Wednesday, November 20


Discuss A Small Place / HOMEWORK: Re-read A Small Place; Write Response


Friday, November 22


Discuss A Small Place / HOMEWORK: Read Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler


Week Thirteen:

Monday, November 25



Discuss If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler / HOMEWORK: Re-read If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler; Write a Response comparing/contrasting Calvino to one of the other authors; Review for Final



Wednesday, November 27



Friday, November 29



Week Fourteen:

Monday, December 2


Discuss If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler/ HOMEWORK: Re-read “The Cardinal’s First Tale”; Write Response comparing Dinesen to one of the other authors


Wednesday, December 4


Discuss Calvino, Dinesen, Review for Final / HOMEWORK: Prepare for Final Exam


Friday, December 6


Review for Final Exam / HOMEWORK: Prepare for Final Exam


Week Fifteen:

Monday, December 9


Review for Final Exam / HOMEWORK: Prepare for Final Exam


Monday, December 16

9-10:30 AM