Dr. Alex E. Blazer Course Site Assignments Description
Materials Assignments Policies Schedule


The Dream of Literature

English 310-76: Writing about Literature

Fall 2003, TR 5:30-6:45PM, Bingham Humanities Bldg 104


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Office: Bingham Humanities Bldg 318B
Mailbox: Bingham Humanities Bldg 315 Office Hours: MWF: 12:00-12:50PM
Email: alex.blazer@louisville.edu Office Phone: 852-5920
Web: www.louisville.edu/~a0blaz01/ Departmental Phone: 852-6801


Course Description


When I sleepwalk into your room,

and pick you up,

and hold you up in the moonlight, you cling to me


as if clinging could save us.

Galway Kinnell, The Book of Nightmares


What is a dream? What do dreams do for us, to us? Similarly, what is literature, and what does it do for us, to us? In this course we will engage both dreams and literature by inquiring into the dream of literature. We will learn how to critically write about literature by analytically reading the literature of dreams. We will engage the five major genres of literaturepoetry, short story, novel, drama, and filmin order to see how the manifest techniques of literaturesuch as characterization, setting, plot, and point of viewcan be interpreted to reveal the latent truths, the core conflicts, and the thematic kernel of the dreamwork. We will answer study questions to prepare us to write three formal papers, which will dig deeper into each work; and we'll do a group project in which we teach the rest of the class a new work of literature. Note that this course fulfills a General Education Writing (WR) requirement and is graded on a plus and minus letter grade scale.


Course Materials



Chopin, Kate, The Awakening (Norton Critical Edition only)

Kinnell, Galway, The Book of Nightmares

Miller, Arthur, Death of a Salesman: Text and Criticism (Viking Critical Library only)

Roberts, Edgar V., Writing about Literature, 10th ed.

course packet (available online)

Daitch, Susan, "X=/Y"

Keats, John, "Ode to a Nightingale"

selected critical essays


Assignments and Grade Distribution


informal writing, 20%

Informal writing is comprised of 1) responses to the reading and 2) responses to the first drafts of your peers' papers. 1) Approximately once per text, in class and/or out, you will write short, informal responses to a work of literature in order to practice writing about literature and work toward writing fully developed, interpretive papers. Click here for the list of questions. 2) Groups of 3-4 will propose suggestions to their peers first drafts for revision. Click here for peer response guidelines.

paper 1, 10%

In 500-750 words or 2-3 pages, you will rigorously analyze a key passage of a literary work, for example, how it highlights the core conflicts and themes of the text. Click here for more details.

paper 2, 20%

In 1000-1250 words or 4-5 pages, you will discuss a point of debate in interpretation of a work of literature and then argue your reading of the work. Click here for more details.

paper 3, 30%

In 1500-2000 words or 6-8 pages, you will interpret a literary work of your choice, using 3-4 works of scholarly criticism to support your analysis. Click here for more details.

group project, 20%

4 groups of 4-5 members will analyze, research, and then teach the class a work of literature of their choice via both audiovisual presentation and website. Among the 4 groups each genre will be covered (poetry, drama, prose, film). Click for the sign up sheet and prompt.


Course Policies


Office Hours and Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course, literature, or life. I'm happy to answer small questions such as due dates over email, but I prefer face-to-face conversations for more substantive topics like papers and exams. I don't check my email on weekends.

Class Participation

We're going to be working with challenging works of literature; therefore, we'll all benefit from sharing our questions and ideas. A bit of an internet addict myself, I recognize that the computers can be quite tempting; however, refrain from using them during class lecture and discussion. Finally, if I feel that the majority of the class isn't participating because they're not keeping up with the reading, I will give a pop quiz, which will factor into your informal writing grade.


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for unexcused absences totalling four days. Additionally, missing seven or more days of class can result in failure of the course. Arriving to class more than 15 minutes late or leaving more than 15 minutes early constitutes an absence. Athletic competition, jury duty, illness, and so forth will be excused provided that you bring an official note within one week of your return to class.

Late Assignments

There will be a one-letter grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late.


Don't do it.  Using someone else's words, ideas, or work without proper citation and representing it as your own is the most serious of academic offenses.  See the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, sections 5 and 6 in the Undergraduate Catalog. Any proven plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the assignment in question and will be reported to the Committee on Student Discipline for further action, which can include notice in the permanent record, dismissal, or expulsion.

Disabilities Resource Center

If you have any specific needs or concerns, please feel free to discuss the issue with me outside of class.  Contact the Disabilities Resource Center (Robbins Hall, 852-6938) for information and auxiliary aid.

Writing Center

The Writing Center (Ekstrom Library, Room 312, 852-2173) provides drop-in assistance for planning, drafting, revising, and editing papers.


Course Schedule


This schedule is subject to change, so listen in class and check online for possible revisions.


Week 1
T, 8-26


Keats, "Ode to a Nightingale"

R, 8-28

Daitch, "X=/Y"

Roberts, Ch1 (preliminary)

Informal Writing 1 Due

Week 2
T, 9-2

Chopin, The Awakening

Roberts, Ch4 (character)

Informal Writing 2 Due

R, 9-4

Chopin, continued

Roberts, Ch7 (setting)

Week 3
T, 9-9

Chopin, continued

Roberts, Ch8 (idea and theme)

R, 9-11

Chopin criticism (see criticism schedule)

Informal Writing 3 Due

Week 4
T, 9-16

Miller, Death of a Salesman

Roberts, Ch5 (point of view)

Paper 1 Prompt

Informal Writing 4 Due

R, 9-18

Miller, continued

Roberts, Ch6 (plot and structure)

Week 5
T, 9-23

Miller, continued

Roberts, Ch10 (symbolism and allusions)

R, 9-25

Miller criticism (see criticism schedule)

Week 6

T, 9-30

film screening: Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998; 100min)

***Woman in Mind plays at the Thrust Theatre 10-1 through 10-5 at 8:00PM with a Sunday matinee at 3:00PM. Call 6814 for reservations.

Paper 1, Draft 1 Due

R, 10-2

film screening: Dark City, continued

Week 7
T, 10-7

Dark City and Woman in Mind discussion

Roberts, Ch16 (film)

group project signup

Informal Writing 5/6 Due

R, 10-9

Dark City criticism (see criticism schedule)

group projects assigned

Paper 1 Peer Response Due

Week 8
T, 10-14
No Class: Fall Break
R, 10-16

Kinnell, The Book of Nightmares

Roberts, Ch11 (tone)

Informal Writing 7 Due

Paper 1, Draft 2 Due

Week 9
T, 10-21

Kinnell, continued

Roberts, Ch9 (metaphors and similes)

Paper 2 Prompt

R, 10-23

Kinnell, continued

Roberts, Ch13 (poetic form)

Week 10
T, 10-28

Literary Research Methods

Roberts, Ch18 (research essay)

R, 10-30

Kinnell criticism (see criticism schedule)

Informal Writing 8 Due

Week 11
T, 11-4

Paper 2, Draft 1 Due

film screening: Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001; 147min)

R, 11-6

film screening: Mulholland Dr., continued

(professor at conference)

Optional Play: The Crucible at MeX Theater in the Kentucky Center. Showtimes: Nov. 6, 7, 13, & 14 at 7:30PM and Nov. 8 & 15 at 2:00PM and 7:30PM. Call 589-0084 for info.

Week 12
T, 11-11

Mulholland Dr. discussion

Paper 3 Prompt

Informal Writing 9 Due

Paper 2 Peer Response Due

R, 11-13

Mulholland Dr., continued

Website Building with Netscape

Week 13
T, 11-18

Individual Conferences for Paper 3

Lab Time for Group Projects

Paper 2, Draft 2 Due

Paper 3 Thesis/Sources Due

R, 11-20

Creating Powerpoint Presentations

Individual Conferences for Paper 3

Lab Time for Group Projects

Week 14
T, 11-25

Lab Time for Group Projects

R, 11-27
No Class: Thanksgiving Break
Week 15
T, 12-2

Group Presentations

Morrison, Sula

Miller, The Crucible

R, 12-4

Group Presentation

Lynch, Lost Highway

T, 12-9
No Class: Reading Day
R, 12-11
Paper 3 Due by 5:30PM