Alex E. Blazer Course Site Postmodernism
Literary Analysis Scholarly Criticism Peer Response
Listservice Response Group Presentation Research Papers
Annotated Bibliography Organization  


367.01 Autumn 1998

367.01 Winter 1999

367.01 Spring 1999

367.02 Autumn 1999

367.02 Winter 2000

367.02 Autumn 2000

367.02 Spring 2001

367.01 What Is Postmodernism?

poststructuralism: came before postmodernism, now subset of it

postmodernism: 2 ways to think about

  1. in terms of global society:
  2. in terms of philosophy, or more loosely, worldview

the bottom line

367.02 Strategies for Reading and Writing about Literature

As you can see, this class demands a bit of reading, though more primary than secondary sources.  However, the reading does serve an important purpose—fodder for you to master in your own thinking and writing about literature: We'll only not discuss ways to analyze the literature that we read (Griffith's Writing Essays about Literature should prove invaluable) but also practice how to articulate our ideas in critical writing.  To accomplish the latter, we'll examine others' interpretations of some of the texts we read in the Norton critical editions.  Further, we'll learn to utilize others' critical writing to advance our own thinking about texts.  Thus, my philosophy of reading and writing supposes a fundamental symbiosis between the two activities.  The writing assignments are designed to build upon one another—essay quizzes and response papers to literature and criticism require less compositional polish but provide practice in determining and learning a reading selection’s themes or theses, respectively.  The explanatory paper requires development—both in terms of composition and ideas—of your reaction and understanding of one or two primary readings.  This paper should show that you not only know the reading inside and out, upside and down, but can clearly articulate that interpretive analysis.  The annotated bibliography provides practice in 1) reading quickly through scholarly articles for main points and 2) summarizing those main points as briefly as possible.  Finally, in the research paper, you will be able to hone your skills in synthesizing several scholarly readings (already written about in the annotated bibliography) and, more importantly, using those sources to advance your own argument, your own response to a work of literature.

Reading Scholarly Criticism

As preparation for the annotated bibliography and research paper, we'll read and discuss scholarly articles on some of the authors and novels we're reading in class. You are only responsible for reading the article that you're assigned.  All articles are in books reserved at the Main Library.  IMPORTANT: Do not ask the reserve librarian to look for the article; ask her to retrieve the book it comes from.  Also, it would be most helpful to print this sheet for the librarian.


Autumn 1999 Winter 2000 Autumn 2000 Spring 2001

Autumn 1999

Criticsm on Kate Chopin's The Awakening

Criticism on Adrienne Rich's poetry

Criticism on The X-Files

Winter 2000

Criticsm on Kate Chopin's The Awakening

Criticism on Adrienne Rich's poetry

Criticism on Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour

Criticism on The X-Files

Criticism on the portrayal women in film

Autumn 2000

Criticism on F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

Criticism on Richard Wright's Native Son

Criticism on J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye

Spring 2001

Criticism of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night

Beyond this, I've also reserved books on Albee, Miller, and Williams that will aid groups in their presentation of a critical debate and that you can peruse for your journal and/or research paper.


Books of Criticism on O'Neill

Books of Criticism on Miller

Books of Criticism on Hansberry

Books of Criticism on Williams

Books of Criticism on Albee

Books of Criticism on O'Neill, Miller, and Albee

Peer Response Questions

As you read a peer’s paper, or any writing for that matter, mentally respond to these questions/issues and make notes in the margins.  Then, compose a concise but meaningfully constructive critique of your peer's paper for each of these categories.  Engage your peers’ ideas as you would a listserv response.  Below are some questions that will get you started.  Depending on the individual paper, some categories will require more response and criticism than others.  Also, don't forget to respond to the writer's three questions.  Your response should be approximately 150-200 words. Your peer group and I will meet outside of class to discuss papers and exchange responses.



Any Paper: Always be on the look out for grammatical, usage, and typographic computer errors because the form is the window into content.  Don’t write a formal answer to this question; just mark the paper’s grammatical errors.
Thesis and Controlling Ideas
Any Paper: Does the paper have a clear controlling idea, purpose, or thesis?
    If the thesis is not explicit, is its subtlety appropriate?
    Has the author accomplished the goals she set for herself?
Paper 1: Does the paper’s thesis and/or the paper in general successfully
        convey the author’s interpretation of the primary text in general and the
        most significant passages for that interpretation in particular?
    Does the paper address some question or issue of meaning?  Has it
        elucidated some meaning for the piece?
    Does it not only advance its own understanding of the work, but also, in
        appropriate and effective ways, address other readings of the work
        without detracting from its own interpretation?
Research Paper: Does the paper’s thesis or controlling idea provide some
        insight into either the topic in general or the connections among its
        research sources?
Paper 1 and Research Paper: Does the paper provide its own reading of the
        subject-matter, that is, does the paper’s thesis distinguish itself from its
        source(s), or, does the paper NOT let itself be subsumed by the theses
        of its sources?
Organization and Support of Interpretation (Argument)
Any Paper: Is the paper's organization clear?
    Does each paragraph have a clearly identifiable point that furthers or
        supports the thesis?
    Does the paper’s method of argumentation (logical analysis, appeals to
        authority, use of textual evidence, and so forth) convince you, that is, is
        it credible?
    Does the argument stray from its task?  If so, to what effect?
Paper 1: Does the paper’s evidence (quoted passages, contextual information,
        and so forth) support its controlling purpose (the interpretation) in a clear
    Does the paper deal with evidence (textual or contextual) that runs contrary to
        its controlling idea/interpretation?
    Does the paper take up all of the piece of literature’s main points, or at least
        those appropriate to the paper’s own reading of the piece?
Research Paper: Does the argumentative interpretation adequately organize,
        synthesize, and/or criticize the arguments of its sources?
Voice and Tone
Any Paper: Does the paper have a discernible, distinct voice and tone
        appropriate for it's rhetorical situation?  (For example, if it’s humorous or
        sarcastic, does that trait fit the paper’s purpose?)
    If the voice or tone changes, is that change appropriate?
Paper 1: Does the voice and tone allow for, complement, and represent fairly the
        voice(s) of the passages it quotes?
Research Paper: Does the voice and tone synthesize (and/or interrogate) fairly
        the different voices and tones of the sources from which it draws?
Successes and Weaknesses
Any Paper: Where can the paper be improved?
    Where is it most successful? least successful?
    What are it's strong points? weak points?
Quality and Creativity
 Any Paper: How does the paper measure up to the standards, conventions,
        and expectations of its purpose?
    Is the paper dry?
    Does it seem engaged in its subject-matter?
    Does the paper approach the subject in innovative, original ways?
    Does the paper distinguish itself as that of its author and her cares?
Paper 1 and Research Paper: Does it respond to the prompt? creatively?
        straightforwardly? successfully?  How so?
The Writer’s Questions
I ask that the writer include in her paper 3 questions for her peers to respond to in addition to the categorical questions above.  These questions, typed at the end of her paper, should not be generic like the above but rather specific to her paper.

367.01/02 Listservice Response


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367.01/02 Group Presentation


Please sign up for one group presentation. Make sure that your group does not overlap with either of your two listserv responses. Groups are responsible for submitting a paper (or individual papers) cover the assigned readings to the listserv ( by 7 P.M. on the Saturday or Monday before the presentation. Using other sources during the presentation and in the paper is required. Groups should meet with me at least one week before their presentation date (if not two weeks) in order to discuss their presentation ideas.


Week 3 10-7

Group Presentation #1:

The Objectivity of Science


Ryan Brown

Patrick Moran

Robert Schmidtgoessling

Week 4 10-14

Group Presentation #2:

Sontag and Camp Culture


Melissa Binkley

Ben Estell

Week 5 10-21

Group Presentation #3:

Rich: Poetry that Crosses Boundaries


Paul Harris

Jeneen McCreay

Paul Tesar

Jeff VanVranken

Week 7 11-2

Group Presentation #4:

American Politics: Apathy and the Media


Terrence Coluci

Dave Gulden

Brian Poling

Erin Shillingburg

Week 7 11-4

Group Presentation #5:

Mass Media and Culture


Adam Crider

Holly Forrest

Eileen Kim

Schal Kline

Week 8 11-9

Group Presentation #6:

The X-Files and Social Order


Rachel Fitzsimmons

Joe Holland

Alexander Loberg

367.01 Research Paper Topics

All papers should, at some level, investigate and analyze either 1) a cultural phenomena in America or 2) the construction of individual identity. The first step in research is determining a topic a general theme, an interesting subject, or an issue, problem or point in question from which one can, after researching the material, compose a specific thesis an angle, an interpretation, or an argument. Another helpful rule of thumb is composing a question that will guide your research and inform your thesis. This list obviously does not exhaust all the topics we've covered in this eclectic class; and many of them need to be focused according to your reading of the issue and the discipline in which you wish to pursue it. Feel free to piggyback off this list; if you've a subject that interests you that's not listed here, please see me and we'll discuss it. I'm game for most topics, though I will work with you on how to mold and/or focus them into manageable research papers that apply course issues and have adequate sources. Finally, I wish to be informed of your topic and question in our individual conference.

Annotated Bibliography

(Please use the format of this handout as a guide to help you complete the annotated bibliography assignment.)


Research Topic

Give the broad concept or issue that you’ll be investigating.
Research Question
Contextualize what you already know, based upon class discussion, and pose a question or two that has guided your research.
Search Strategy
Recapitulate where and how you went about your search for sources.  A few words to the wise: 1) Don’t put this off until the last minute.  You should request and check out materials from libraries a full two weeks before the assignment is due.  “The books are in transit” or “The books were checked out” does not constitute a valid excuse for a bibliography lacking 10 sources.  2) Note that OSCAR will tell you if OSU owns a particular journal, but it can’t search for journal articles.  Consequently, on OSU Libraries home page, before entering OSCAR, search Other Online Research Tools a) OSU’s collection of “electronic journals” (this is very limited, but it can’t hurt to try), b) “other databases by subject” page (there’s a listing of numerous databases like Language and Literature, and Psychology, which will link you to MLA Bibliography and a psychology journal search engine.  (You’ll get some of the same databases with which Gateway interfaces, some with which Gateway doesn’t), and 3) finally Gateway, which searches 92 databases.  4) Once you have a critical article or book, check its works cited and reference pages for other books that might help your research.  If you come up empty handed after trying OSCAR, the appropriate “databases by subject,” Gateway, and works cited pages of articles/books you've already found, ask a librarian for help!  Feel free to use Columbus Metropolitan Libraries, but note they are a public library system and your search will need to be augmented by an academic library like OSU.
Summary of Findings
In 150-250 words, summarize the different critical interpretations of the subject-matter, describe where critics converge and diverge, and criticize the lines of argument. (By adding your own take on the critical debate, this can be transformed into an abstract.)

10 secondary sources

approximately half should be scholarly journal articles

approximately half should be books or book chapters

no encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, web sites, primary texts, or critical articles we've read in class (though you may use those in your research paper)

alphabetically arranged according to MLA standards

with annotations of 50-75 words eachthat evaluate the sources by:

Problem (Question)
Identify what’s at stake or the issue or question that the source is investigating.
Method (Evidence)
Describe how the author supports her argument, for instance with logical claims and assumptions and/or with examples, facts, and statistics.
Proposition (Thesis)
Define the source's thesis, or sub-thesis relevant to your research question, its contribution to the critical discourse, and/or how it will help your paper; note that his can be combined with the 'problem' section.

Annotated Bibliography Model

Your Name

English 367.01

Alex E. Blazer


The Rise of Cults in America

(Annotated Bibliography Model)

The Classical Organization for an Analytical, Argumentative Paper

As this is a second-level college writing class, I’m assuming that in your first college composition class or in high school, you learned the classical organization of a paper.  If so, this handout will provide a refresher; if not, this handout will help you efficiently construct an effectively organized paper.  Unlike English 110, the goal of English 367.01 is to master using sources in your own work, your own thought.  Whereas 110 asked for development of opinions, this class requires you develop your critical judgment.  Opinion still plays a key part, but it is opinion rooted in analysis and interpretation of a text’s argument.  I expect formal papers to be both analytical and argumentative.  That is, your paper’s dual goals should be to 1) do a close reading of the text or texts with which your working and then 2) offer up your own interpretation and evaluation of that text(s).  Don’t simply recapitulate what the text that you’re analyzing says, question it and build upon it.  Both get into the author’s mind set and interrogate her world view, all for the purpose of positing your own critical evaluation of the subject-matter.  My approach to structure, indeed the typical or general organization of an academic paper, can be found in this rough outline.  Note the genre's rules: introduction which tells the reader what the paper is going to do/argue, proof via evidence and more argument, re-proof via rebuff (debate your idea), and conclusion which tells the reader what's just been proven.  You may find this outline helpful to use as a guide:

Engage your reader in an Intro

Say what you're going to prove in a Thesis/Argument

Then prove it with Evidence/Proof/Specific Examples/Support from the texts you’re using

Address Opposition to your Thesis (Where/If applicable) in Counterargument which you will Deflate/Refute (what's wrong with the other side, the other opinion)

in order to then

Re-Advance Your Own

Finally, say what you've just proven: Conclusion

Here’s a more formal outline of how a short academic examination may be structured.  Note how each support flows from and directly relates to the thesis/controlling idea/argument in some significant way.  (4X) stands for the understood “Therefore/Because/For example” connectivity test.  If the support answers the question “Therefore, what?,”  “Because why?,” or “What, for example?” prompted by the preceding statement, then that support is relevant.  The test promotes not only critical reflection and critical analysis but also coherence. (It doesn't allow the writer to meander, but rather to consciously progress and direct her composition purposively.)  Note further that the overarching arguments (opinions, generalizations) gradually are filtered into direct evidence (facts, specific examples, in the case of English 367.01, quotes from the text you’re working with).  Of course, you may vary from this format as it is very constraining and limiting stylistically; indeed, I encourage you too adapt it to your own writing style.  However, be certain to utilize an effective organization, one which offers illustrative support for your argumentative thesis.


      I. Introduction
         A. Grabber (aka, hook): gets the audience interested in the paper
         B. Related stuff: not necessarily going to be proven or analyzed but               somehow relevantly/appropriately commences thinking on the subject               (usually very interrelated with the grabber's content)
         C. Blueprint: outlines sub-topics and supports for the thesis
         D. Thesis Statement: the argument that guides and coheres the discursive
     II. Body Paragraph: no less than three, each should not only directly relate to
             the thesis but also support it in some way (a major support of the thesis)
(4X) A. Thesis statement: argumentatively and logically supports the overarching
             purpose of the paper, most notably stated in the introduction's thesis
    (4X) 1. major support: though still argumentative, it is somewhat transitory in
                 that it, more often than not, also incorporates a reading or an
                 interpretation of a specific example
        (4X) a. minor support: the specific example, the evidence that proves the
        (4X) b. minor support
            (4X) (1) minor minor support: this really delves into the specific
                          nuances of the argument, but isn't always appropriate or
                          necessary, depending on the nature of the argument, analysis,
                          and evidence
           (4X) (2) minor minor support
    (4X) 2. major support
        (4X) a. minor support
        (4X) b. minor support
    (4X) 3. major support
        (4X) a. minor support
        (4X) b. minor support
            4. summary thus far, mini-conclusion of this paragraph, or transition to
                either an extension of this paragraph's argument in another paragraph
                or the next main thesis support (aka body paragraph)
    III. Body Paragraph — see above
   IV. Body Paragraph — see above
    V. Body Paragraph — see above —
             That addresses and refutes arguments in opposition to your own
             (You can also engage counterargument throughout your paper with each
                 main point)
   VI. Conclusion
        Summarizes arguments and points already made (and does not offer new

        Restates thesis
        (Possibly) ends with an epiphany or a moment of revelation; or points to
           further discussion or study or to relevant issues which generated or
           implicated by the argument's analysis