English 4110/5110 Literary Criticism, Spring 2018

TR 11:00-12:15 p.m., Arts & Sciences 345




Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours: TR 12:30-1:30 p.m. and 5:30-6:00 p.m., Arts & Sciences 330


Course Description


While English 3900 is a survey of critical approaches to literature such as New Criticism and formalism, structuralism and semiotics, poststructuralism and postmodernism, reader-response criticism, deconstruction, New Historism, post colonialism, psychoanalytic criticism, Marxist criticism, feminist criticism, African-American criticism, and lesbian/gay/queer criticism, the undergraduate catalog describes English 4110 as "A focused study of one or two methodologies of literary criticism." This course's Academic Assessment page describes our topics:

as well as course outcomes:

This semester, we will concentrate on psycho-existential reader-response criticism, a combination of psychoanalytic criticism, existentialism and phenomenology, and reader-response criticism. We will read overviews of the theories by Lois Tyson and Robert C. Solomon as well as edited collections of the theories titled Existentialism and Reader-Response Criticism. Psychoanalytical articles will be included in our course packet. Then we will practice interpreting a work of literature using the questions raised by the theory: Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury for psychoanalytic criticism, Chopin's The Awakening for existentialism, and Woolf's The Waves for reader-response criticism, Bergman's Persona using all three, other works of literature to practice the convergence of the methodologies. Undergraduate assignments include article summaries, an applied interpretation, a theoretical paper, and a research paper. Graduate students will teach a class, review a book, and write a research paper. Note that this undergraduate course's prerequisite is sophomore status.


Course Materials


required textbooks (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

Solomon, Existentialism

Tompkins, Reader-Response Criticism

required articles (GeorgiaVIEW)

course packet

recommended books (Amazon)

Chopin, The Awakening (ebook available at Project Gutenberg)

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th ed.

Woolf, The Waves (ebook available at Project Gutenberg)


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4110 Undergraduate Students


article summary, 5%

You will sign up to summarize a theoretical article in 3-4 page informal paper and presentation.

applied interpretation and presentation, 15%

You will pair up to interpret a work of literature, which applies our class's theories, in a collaboratively written 6-8 page paper and 8-10 minute presentation.

exam, 20%

The essay exam will test your understanding and application of theory.

theoretical paper, 25%

In a 7-9 page paper, you will compare and contrast two theoretical articles covered in class.

research paper, 35%

You will write an 8-10 page research paper that either interprets a work of literature of your choosing using theories from our class or investigates a theoretical issue from our class. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


5110 Graduate Students


annotated bibliography and presentation, 15%

You will sign up to compile an annotated bibliography of an assigned theorist and theoretical article and teach the class the article.

theoretical paper, 25%

In an 8-10 page paper, you will compare and contrast two theoretical articles covered in class.

book review, 25%

In an 8-10 page paper, you will summarize and evaluate, appreciate and interrogate, a book by a theorist covered in class.

research paper, 35%

You will write a 12-15 page research paper that either interprets a work of literature of your choice using theories from our class or investigates a theoretical issue from our class, and present your work-in-progress paper to the class. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


Course Policies



We will use the course site for the syllabus schedule and assignment prompts; supporting documents include an attendance record, a course grade calculation spreadsheet, FAQ, a GeorgiaVIEW walkthrough, a guide to literary analysis, a research methods guide, and paper templates. We will use GeorgiaVIEW for assignment submission and the course packet; if you experience problems with GeorgiaVIEW, immediately contact support. Check your university email for course-related messages. Use an online backup or cloud storage service to not only save but also archive versions of your work in case of personal computer calamities.


Because this liberal arts course values contemporaneous discussion over fixed lecture, regular attendance is required. Any student who misses seven or more classes for any reason (excused or unexcused) will fail the course. There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every unexcused absence beyond three. I suggest you use your three days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies, consistently leaving class early, texting, and surfing the internet will be treated as absences. Unexcused absences include work, family obligations, and scheduled doctor's appointments. Excused absences include family emergency, medical emergency, religious observance, and participation in a college-sponsored activity. If you have a medical condition or an extracurricular activity that you anticipate will cause you to miss more than four days of class, I suggest you drop this section or risk failure. The university class attendance policy can be found here. You can check your attendance here.

MLA Style and Length Requirements

Part of writing in a discipline is adhering to the field's style guide. While other disciplines use APA or Chicago style, literature and composition follows MLA style. In-class exams, discussion board responses, informal/journal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted; however, formal assignments and take-home exams must employ MLA style. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following three categories, for a possible one letter grade deduction total: 1) margins, header, and heading, 2) font, font size, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. A formal paper or take-home exam will be penalized one-third of a letter grade if it does not end at least halfway down on the minimum page length (not including Works Cited page) while implementing 12 pt Times New Roman font, double-spacing, and 1" margins. Each additional page short of the minimum requirement will result in an a additional one-third letter grade penalty. It is your responsibility to learn how to control your word-processing program. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by referring to the FAQ handout and using the MLA style checklist. Feel free to use these templates that are preformatted to MLA style.

Late Assignments

We're all busy with multiple classes and commitments, and adhering to deadlines is critical for the smooth running of the course. There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I give short extensions if you request one for a valid need at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. Because your completion of this course's major learning outcomes depends on the completion of pertinent assignments, failing to submit an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within a five days of its due date will result in failure of the course. Failing to submit a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in failure of the course.

Academic Honesty

The integrity of students and their written and oral work is a critical component of the academic process. The Honor Code defines plagiarism as "presenting as one's own work the words or ideas of an author or fellow student. Students should document quotes through quotation marks and footnotes or other accepted citation methods. Ignorance of these rules concerning plagiarism is not an excuse. When in doubt, students should seek clarification from the professor who made the assignment." The Undergraduate Catalog defines academic dishonesty as "Plagiarizing, including the submission of others’ ideas or papers (whether purchased, borrowed, or otherwise obtained) as one’s own When direct quotations are used in themes, essays, term papers, tests, book reviews, and other similar work, they must be indicated; and when the ideas of another are incorporated in any paper, they must be acknowledged, according to a style of documentation appropriate to the discipline" and "Submitting, if contrary to the rules of a course, work previously presented in another course," among other false representations. "As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, "since the primary goal of education is to increase one's own knowledge," any student found guilty of substantial, willful plagiarism or dishonesty will fail the assignment and the course. Here is how I have dealt with plagiarists in the past. This course uses plagiarism prevention technology from TurnItIn. The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.

Passing or Failing of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: failing to regularly attend class, plagiarizing, failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness. By contrast, students who regularly attend class, complete their work with academic integrity, and submit assignments on time will pass the course.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is a free service available to all members of the university community. Consultants assist writers in the writing process, from conception and organization of compositions to revision to documentation of research. Located in Library 228, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Additional Policies

Additional statements regarding the Religious Observance Policy, Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability, Student Rating of Instruction Survey, Academic Honesty, and Fire Drills can be found here.


Course Schedule

Week 1

T, 1-16


Literary Criticism

R, 1-18

No Class: Snow Day

Week 2

T, 1-23

Psychoanalytic Criticism

Tyson, "Psychoanalytic Criticism" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Freud, "Creative Writers and Daydreaming " (GeorgiaVIEW)

Green, "Prologue: The Psycho-Analytic Reading of Tragedy" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Freud, "The Structure of The Unconscious," "The Instincts, "The Theory of Dreams," and "The Oedipus Complex" and "Repression," "The Unconscious," "Mourning and Melancholia," and "Negation" (GeorgiaVIEW)

In Class Activity: Summarizing a Theoretical Article

R, 1-25

No Class: Professor at Conference

Week 3

T, 1-30

Bloom, "Freud and the Sublime: A Catastrophe Theory of Creativity" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Brooks, "Freud's Masterplot" (GeorgiaVIEW)

de Laretis, "Desire in Narrative" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 2-1

Lacan, "Desire and the Interpretation of Desire in Hamlet" and "Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter'" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Week 4

T, 2-6

Kristeva, "Approaching Abjection" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Doane, "Woman's Stake: Filming the Female Body" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 2-8

Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (Parts 1 and 2)

In Class Activity: Psychoanalyzing The Sound and the Fury

Week 5

T, 2-13

Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (Parts 3 and 4 and Appendix)

R, 2-15

Undergraduate Exam

Week 6

T, 2-20

Existential and Phenomenological Criticism

Solomon, Introduction (Solomon xi-xx)

Dufrenne, "Existentialism and Existentialisms" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 2-22

Kierkegaard (Solomon 3-33; focus on "Truth Is Subjectivity" and "On Becoming a Christian")

Dostoevsky (Solomon 36-64)

Graduate Book Review Due

Week 7

T, 2-27

Nietzsche (Solomon 67-102; focus on from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, from Beyond Good and Evil and "On Truth")

Kafka (Solomon 171-3)

Camus (Solomon 184-205; focus on from The Myth of Sisyphus)

R, 3-1

Sartre (Solomon 206-72; focus on "The Origin of Nothingness," "Patterns of Bad Faith," and "Being-for-Others")

Sartre, "Why Write?" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Week 8

T, 3-6

de Beauvoir (Solomon 292-307)

Kristeva, "Psychoanalysis and Freedom" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 3-8

Barnes (Solomon 308-18)

Barnes, "Possibilities" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Magliola, "Philosophical and Linguistic Background" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Week 9

T, 3-13

Chopin, The Awakening

R, 3-15

Chopin, concluded

Week 10

T, 3-20

No Class: Spring Break

R, 3-22

No Class: Spring Break

Week 11

T, 3-27

Reader-Response Criticism

Tyson, "Reader-Response Criticism" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Tompkins, "An Introduction to Reader-Response Criticism" (Tompkins ix-xxvi)

R, 3-29

Writing Day: Bring Your Laptops

Theoretical Paper Due

Week 12

T, 4-3

Gibson, "Authors, Speakers, Readers, and Mock Readers" (Tompkins 1-6)

Prince, "Introduction to the Study of the Narratee" (Tompkins 7-25)

Riffaterre, "Describing Poetic Structures: Two Approaches to Baudelaire's 'Les Chats'" (Tompkins 26-40)

R, 4-5

No Class: Professor at Conference

Week 13

T, 4-10

Poulet, "Criticism and the Experience of Interiority" (Tompkins 41-9)

Iser, "The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach" (Tompkins 50-69)

R, 4-12

Fish, "Literature in the Reader: Affective Stylistics" (Tompkins 70-100)

Culler, "Literary Competence" (Tompkins 101-17)

Week 14

T, 4-17

Holland, "Unity Identity Text Self" (Tompkins 118-33)

Fish, "Interpreting the Variorium" (Tompkins 164-84)

R, 4-19

Michaels, "The Interpreter's Self: Peirce on the Cartesian 'Subject'" (Tompkins 185-200)

Tompkins, "The Reader in History: The Changing Shape of Literary Response" (Tompkins 201-32)

Research Proposal Due

Week 15

T, 4-24

Woolf, The Waves

R, 4-26

Woolf, concluded

Week 16

T, 5-1

Persona (Bergman, 1966, 83 min; available on 4-Hour Library Course Reserves, and available to rent from Apple and Amazon)

R, 5-3

Graduate Research Paper Panel


W, 5-9

Research Paper Due