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


Loving Awry

English 205B: Literatures in English

Fall 2006, MWF 1:00-1:50PM, 226 Lake Superior Hall


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Office Hours: MW 2:00-2:50PM, W 4:30-5:30PM
Office and Mailbox: 123 Lake Huron Hall Office Phone: 331-3373
Email: blazera@gvsu.edu English Department: 240 Lake Huron Hall
Web: http://faculty.gvsu.edu/blazera/ English Department Phone: 331-3405


Course Description

I'm dating Barbie. Three afternoons a week, while my sister is at dance class, I take Barbie away from Ken. I'm practicing for the future.

A. M. Homes, "A Real Doll"


Why does love go awry, what happens when love is led askew? How can literature help us define love led astray into darkness? In this course, we will learn how to critically write about literature by analytically reading literature whose primary theme is love gone wrong. We will engage the seven major genres of literatureshort story, novella, novel, drama, poetry, film, and televisionin order to see how the techniques of literaturesuch as characterization, setting, plot, and point of viewcan be interpreted to reveal the core conflicts and the awful truth of love. Be warned: this class will not concern itself with sappy and sentimental conceptions of love; instead, we will delve into the underbelly of desire, from the loveless sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll of Bret Easton Ellis's The Rules of Attraction to the love denied and then warped in Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, from the exacting extramarital affair of Anne Sexton's Love Poems to the fatally bizarre love triangle of David Lynch's Lost Highway, from the love ironized out of existence in J. D. Salinger's "The Heart of the Broken Story" to the doomed love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and from the the fetishism of A. M. Homes' "A Real Doll" to the pedophilia of Joyce Carol Oates's First Love.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. I will guide class discussion, present concepts and modes of analysis, and assess assignments. I expect you to read and study the material, attend and participate in class regularly, turn assignments in on time, and approach assignments with intellectual curiosity, educational investment, and academic honesty. Note that this course's prerequisite is WRT 150 with a C or better, or the equivalent. This course fulfills a Supplemental Writing Skills (SWS) requirement as well as the Philosophy and Literature Foundation of the General Education Program.


Course Materials


required (GVSU Bookstore)

Ellis, The Rules of Attraction

Roberts, Writing about Literature, 11th ed.

Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

required (online)

course packet and articles

recommended (GVSU Bookstore)

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed.


Assignments and Grade Distribution


informal writing, 15%

Informal writing is comprised of responses to the reading and responses to the first drafts of your peers' papers. Approximately once per text, in class or out of class, 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. Groups of 3-4 will respond to their peers' first drafts for revision.

paper 1, 15%

In the first paper of 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.

paper 2, 20%

In the second paper of 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.

paper 3, 30%

In the final research paper of 6-8 pages, you will interpret a literary work of your choice, using at least 4 works of scholarly criticism to support your analysis.

group project, 20%

4-6 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 groups, each genre will be covered (poetry, drama, prose, film).


Course Policies


Class Preparation and Participation

I expect you to come to class having read, annotated, and reviewed the assigned reading. Moreover, you should prepare at least two comments and two questions. We're going to be working with challenging works of literature; therefore, we'll all benefit from sharing our ideas and questions. If I feel that you're not participating because you're not keeping up with the reading, I will give a pop quiz.

Office Hours and Professor 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 minor questions such as due dates over email, but I prefer face-to-face conversations for more substantive topics like papers and exams. Please use email etiquette.

Blackboard and Student Email

We will be using Blackboard for assignments and Netmail for class communication. It is your responsibility to update your passwords so you can use Blackboard and check your email for possible course related messages. I suggest that you forward your university email to your private email account (or vice versa) and review both my Blackboard Basics and IT's Blackboard Help.


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond six days. Therefore, missing seven class periods will result in a one letter final grade deduction and missing ten classes will result in automatic failure of the course. I do not excuse any class missed beyond the six days, even if you are ill or participating in extracurricular activities. Therefore, I suggest you use your six days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies or consistently leaving class early will be treated as absences.

MLA Style

Formal assignments should adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Formal papers and take-home exams require MLA style while in-class exams, discussion board responses, informal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following four categories: 1) header, heading, and title, 2) margins, font, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by using the checklist on the MLA style handout.

Late Assignments

There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I sparingly give short extensions if you request one for a valid need; however you must make the request 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. I neither read nor grade assignments that are turned in more than five days late for whatever reason, be it extension or computer error. Failing to submit (or resubmit) an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within five days (not class periods) of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course. Failing to submit (or resubmit) a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course.


Do not do it. Section 223.01 of the Student Code states: "Any ideas or material taken from another source for either written or oral presentation must be fully acknowledged. Offering the work of someone else as one's own is plagiarism. The language or ideas taken from another may range from isolated formulas, sentences, or paragraphs to entire articles copied from books, periodicals, speeches or the writings of other students. The offering of materials assembled or collected by others in the form of projects or collections without acknowledgment also is considered plagiarism. Any student who fails to give credit in written or oral work for the ideas or materials that have been taken from another is guilty of plagiarism." As a general rule, I fail plagiarized assignments, and so plagiarists usually fail the course as well.

Failure of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: 1) failing to regularly attend class, 2) plagiarizing, 3) 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.


The deadline for withdrawing from a class is Friday, October 20 at 5:00PM through one of the Student Assistance Centers.

Disabilities Support Center

If there is any student in this class who has special needs because of a learning, physical, or other ability, please contact the Disabilities Support Services (DSS) Program in the Advising Resources and Special Programs Unit at 331-3588.

Center for Writing

The Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors provides appointment, walk-in, and instant messenger assistance for planning, drafting, revising, and editing papers.

Supplemental Writing Skills

This course is designated SWS. Completion of WRT 150 with a grade of C or better (not C-) is a prerequisite. SWS credit will not be given to a student who completes this course before completing the prerequisite. SWS courses adhere to certain guidelines. Students turn in a total of at least 3000 words of writing. Part of that total may be essay exams, but a substantial amount of it is made up of essays, reports, or research papers. The instructor works with the students on revising drafts of papers, rather than simply grading the finished piece of writing. At least four hours of class time will be devoted to writing instruction. At least one third of the final grade in the course is based on the writing assignments.


Course Schedule


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


Week 1
M, 8-28

Atwood, [you fit into me] (online)

W, 8-30

Rachel, "mcpoem" (online)

H. D. "Fragment Sixty-Eight" (online)

Roberts, Chapter 1 Preliminary

F, 9-1

Bulfinch, "Apollo and Daphne" (online)

Graham, "Self-Portrait as Apollo and Daphne" (online)

Week 2
M, 9-4
No Class: Labor Day Recess
W, 9-6

Salinger, "The Heart of the Heart of a Broken Story" (online)

Roberts, Chapter 3 Character

Informal Writing 1 Due

F, 9-8

Salinger, continued

Roberts, Chapter 11 Tone

Week 3
M, 9-11

Homes, "A Real Doll" (online)

Informal Writing 2 Due

W, 9-13

Oates, First Love (online)

Roberts, Chapter 6 Setting

In Class Activity: Josie: Character, Setting, Tone, Conflict

F, 9-15

Oates, concluded

Week 4
M, 9-18

Ellis, The Rules of Attraction

Roberts, Chapter 4 Point of View

Paper 1 Prompt

Informal Writing 3 Due

W, 9-20

Ellis, continued

Roberts, Chapter 2 Close Reading

F, 9-22

Ellis, concluded

MLA Style

Week 5
M, 9-25

Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Roberts, Chapter 10 Symbolism and Allegory

In Class Activity: Conflict and Symbol

W, 9-27

Williams, continued

F, 9-29

Williams, criticism (online, criticism)

In Class Activity: Reading Scholarly Criticism

Week 6

M, 10-2

Williams, concluded

Paper 1 Draft 1 Due

W, 10-4

Film Screening: Lost Highway

Roberts, Chapter 17 Film

Lynch, Lost Highway script (online)

F, 10-6
Film Screening, continued
Week 7
M, 10-9
Film Screening, concluded

Group Presentation Sign Up

W, 10-11

**Due to peer response group meetings, regular class will not be held. You are only responsible for coming to your class on the day your peer response group meets.

Paper 1 Peer Response Due (Groups 1 and 2)

F, 10-13

**Due to peer response group meetings, regular class will not be held. You are only responsible for coming to your class on the day your peer response group meets.

Paper 1 Peer Response Due (Groups 3 and 4)

Week 8
M, 10-16

Lost Highway discussion

Chapter 5 Plot and Structure

Paper 1 Draft 2 Due

W, 10-18

Lost Highway criticism (online, criticism)

Chapter 7 Idea and Theme

In Class Activity: Annotating Scholarly Criticism

Informal Writing 4 Due

F, 10-20

Lost Highway criticism, concluded

Paper 2 Prompt

Week 9
M, 10-23

Television Screening: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "The Becoming, Part 1" script (online)

W, 10-25

Television Screening: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "The Becoming, Part 2" script (online)

F, 10-27

Buffy the Vampire Slayer discussion

Week 10
M, 10-30

Buffy the Vampire Slayer criticism (online, criticism)

In Class Activity: Composing Theses

W, 11-1

Literary Research Methods

F, 11-3

Sexton, Love Poems (online, selected)

Roberts, Chapter 8 Imagery

Paper 2 Draft 1 Due

Week 11
M, 11-6

Sexton, continued

Roberts, Chapter 9 Metaphor and Simile

W, 11-8

Sexton, continued

Informal Writing 5 Due

F, 11-10

Paper 3 Prompt

Paper 2 Peer Response Due

Week 12
M, 11-13

Ai, Vice (online, selected)

Roberts, Chapter 18 The Research Essay

W, 11-15

Ai, continued

F, 11-17

Ai, criticism (online, criticism)

Paper 2 Draft 2 Due

Week 13
M, 11-20

Individual Conference regarding Paper 3

Group Project meeting time

Paper 3 Thesis and Sources Due

W, 11-22
No Class: Thanksgiving Recess
F, 11-24
No Class: Thanksgiving Recess
Week 14
M, 11-27

Individual Conference regarding Paper 3

Group Projects meeting time

W, 11-29

Individual Conference regarding Paper 3

Group Projects meeting time

F, 12-1

Individual Conference regarding Paper 3

Group Projects meeting time

Week 15
M, 12-4

Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls Presentation

Norman, 'night, Mother Presentation

W, 12-6

Plath Presentation

Hitchcock, Vertigo Presentation

F, 12-8
T, 12-12

Paper 3 Due