Introduction to Literature — Delahoyde

Honors English 199
Section 03
Fall 2000
T Th 12:00 – 1:15
Todd 211

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University
Avery 355
Hours: To Be Announced
Phone: 335-4832

IntroductionTo Literature


A dismayingly common assumption made among people both insideand outside academia is that “literature” (to be pronouncedlit-ah-chah) is something to be “appreciated.” Thus, we ooh and ah over well-turned meters and make sterilepolite gasps at how well Melville captures the whale-murderingexperience. But frankly, literature doesn’t help us gain controlover other people and animals, there’s no bucks in it, and soit’s just “nice,” maybe “poignant,” and atbest “raw” (in an elitist, effete sort of way).

Fine, but literature in this classwill be something that confronts us, disturbs us, suckers us inand then smacks us around emotionally and cerebrally (and notbecause I’ve selected “raw” or aggressive works, byany means). This class will be as intricate as biochem. and,what is worse, more human.

For this section of Honors English199, I have avoided all of those godawful readers and have chosenprimarily short stories, poetry, plays, myths, novels, and otherwritings which concern issues of monstrosity, love, death, insanity,herpephobia, misery, and the hideousness of family. We will practiceagonizingly close reading of this literature and will apply thetools of critical analysis: concepts and terminology such as characterization,structure, theme, voice, etc. (in ways more sophisticated andinteresting than what Cliffs Notes have to offer under such headings). We also will try out several of the established critical approachesto texts: historical, formalistic, psychological, feminist, Marxist,reader response, deconstruction, and other theoretical perspectives. Emphasis in the course will be on learning to discuss and towrite about literature confidently and articulately. Naturally,I have many interests which involve these works, but I’m justas anxious to hear and to read your discoveries concerning thisliterature.

Required Work:

You will submit three written projectsof manageable length: analyses of literary texts or issues froma variety of perspectives. One of these may turn out to be a cooperativeproject. (45%)

A midterm exam will grieve you. (15%)

A final will oppress you. (15%)

I will frequently ask either forrelatively short, typed homework assignments (in order for youto practice critical approaches and familiarize yourself withconventions of written literary analysis), or for short quiz-likewritings at the beginning of classes (designed primarily to stimulatesubsequent discussion). These will be graded by points and thefinal semester totals will be curved if necessary. You will beresponsible for brief, informal, lead-off (sometimes group) presentationson assigned questions and responsible for contributing a shortreading to the class. In addition, class participation will beexpected when I’m not waxing enthusiastic but will arise anywaybecause the readings are so provocative (i.e., cool). (25%)

Required Texts:

Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of LiteraryTerms. 7th edition. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Pub.,1999. ISBN 0-15-505452-X. Thin and expensive, but helpful. It’sall here, waiting for application.

Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre.1847. NY: Penguin, 1966. ISBN 0-14-043011-3. Best read in winterwhen ill, with cups of hot something.

Churchill, Caryl. Top Girls.Methuen, 1988. ISBN 0-413-55480-5, A0298. Okay, now I understanddrama.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The LostWorld. 1912. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1990. ISBN0-89733-331-4. From the Sherlock Holmes author; you won’t believethis slice of limburger!

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. TheYellow Wallpaper. Alexandria, VA: Orchises Press, 1990. ISBN0-914061-16-x. Totally cool; how could this come from a hundredyears ago?

Momaday, N. Scott. The Way toRainy Mountain. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press,1969. ISBN 0-8263-0436-2. Heartbreaking Kiowa legends.

Shakespeare, William. A MidsummerNight’s Dream. New American Library / Penguin, 1987. ISBN0-451-52137-4. I heard this guy was good.

[Provided in handouts or on loan:lots of 14th-20th century poetry; 19th-20th century short stories;myth, psychological studies, and horror; possibly a Harlequinromance.]

Official Blab:

English 199 is one of several English courses designed with thefollowing in mind. Here is what the English Department has tosay:

The purpose of these courses is toexpose students to a range of literary genres in their culturaland historical contexts and to teach the interpretive and communicativeskills necessary to join effectively in the discussion of literature.Students investigate the concept of “literature” andexamine the effects that readers and texts conjointly produce.All [these] courses will share a common glossary of literary termsand a common handbook for writers, provide significant opportunityfor discussion, and “have appropriate writing assignmentsintegrated into the material of the course” (“WritingPolicy for General Education Courses”). Because [these courses]satisfy the GER in Arts and Humanities [H], they belong to a categoryfor courses that “take a historical, critical, or appreciativeapproach to the study of human culture as manifested in literature,languages, philosophy, art, music, or drama [and] introduce thestudent to the record of human creativity and provide a basisfor assessing its values and significance in human development”(“GER Guidelines”).


1. To learn ways of understandingand engaging with literature, both in discussion and in writing;to become skilled, self-conscious readers of literature throughthe study of a variety of texts representing diverse voices indifferent modes, genres, contexts.

2. To gain experience in close reading,analyzing, and interpreting literary texts — including significantengagement with poetry; with at least one novel, one play, anda range of other kinds of literary texts; with literature writtenprior to the 20th century; and with the study of literature incultural and historical contexts.

3. To learn basic conventions ofand to gain experience in analytical writing about literature,including a minimum of two formal, revised critical essays.

4. To learn the basic terminologyrelevant for critical analysis of figurrative language, of narrativestructures, of important literary forms and conventions.

5. To become aware that there area) various contemporary critical approaches to literary texts,b) debates over literary canons, and c) shifting assumptions (aboutliterature, the author, the reader; about gender, race, sexualorientation, class, etc.) that have informed such approaches anddebates.


Reasonable accommodations are available for students who havea documented disability. Please notify the intructor during thefirst week of class regarding any accommodations needed for thecourse. Accommodations may not be available if notification occurslater. All accommodations must be approved through the DisabilitiesResource Center (DRC) in the Administration Annex 206 (335-1566).

Honors English 199 Syllabus Fall 2000 Syllabus
not yet available.

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This site last updated 11 September 2000.