English 1100, Section 175

Literary Interpretation:

The Value of Literature for Authors, Readers, and Society

Fall 2018


Time/Day: 10:00-11:40 a.m. T/Th

Room: Dunbar 2210

Final Exam: Thursday , Dec. 13, 8-10 a.m.

Instructor: Mr. Luke McCarthy

Email: lucas.j.mccarthy@wmich.edu

Website: http://lucasjmccarthy.com

Office: Sprau Tower, Room 712

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

More office hours are available upon request. Please do not hesitate to email me if you want to arrange a time to meet!

Course Description

An introduction to the study of literature, aimed at developing abilities to read literature and write about it with skill, sensitivity, and care. Students will read poetry, drama, and prose fiction, and through the writing of several papers will be introduced to terms and methods of formal study of literature. Course required for entry into most upper-level English courses. This course satisfies General Education Area I: Fine Arts. Prerequisite: ENGL 1050 or BCM 1420 or BIS 1420 or IEE 1020; with a grade of “C” or better in any prerequisite. 4 hours

Course Overview

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the study of literature while bridging the gap between basic composition courses and more advanced English courses, which generally do not focus primarily on developing composition skill. Instead, the study of literature, as a field of study within the humanities, involves analyzing textual evidence for a variety of other reasons that we will explore over the course of the semester. For that exploration, the principle focus of this course will be on covering the major concepts, methods, and theories of literary analysis while considering this question: what value does literature provide? To answer this question, the class will engage in a guided but student-led inquiry into what value literature can provide to authors, individual readers, and society. Furthermore, the class will consider how the conscious or unconscious promotion of particular values can affect the interpretation of literary works (and vice versa). In the process of addressing these issues, students will read and consider examples of fiction, poetry, and drama drawn from a wide array of authors and time periods. Students will also do a “deep dive” into a particular work of literature by a specific author: James Joyce’s Dubliners (1914). While this course is not primarily a composition course, particular attention will also be made to developing the skills students need to present original arguments that are clear, well-organized, ethically supported, and persuasive. By building on a succession of assignments and short papers, students will culminate the semester with a paper on a work of the student’s choice that models the quality that students will face in upper level English courses. The final exam will consist of multiple in-class essay questions covering the topics that the class discussed over the course of the semester. By the end of the semester, students will gain an understanding of literary study as a valuable enterprise that provides a unique and significant perspective on humanity through is focus on literary texts.

Required Course Materials:

  • Norton Introduction to Literature, Shorter Twelfth Edition
    • Editor: Kelly J. Mays
    • W. Norton & Company, Inc.
    • ISBN-10: 0393623572
    • ISBN-13: 9780393623574
  • James Joyce, Dubliners
    • Norton Critical Edition
    • Editor: Margot Norris
    • W. Norton & Company, Inc.
    • ISBN-10: 0393978516
    • ISBN-13: 978-0393978513