EN380 Literary Theory & Criticism

for SP 2007

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EN 380 Literary Theory and Criticism


SP 2007 HO


Okerstrom, Dennis R.


Associate Professsor of English


Ph.D., English and History

Office Location

305 Copley Hall

Office Hours

8:40 -- 10:10 T-R; 9:30 -- 11 M-F

Daytime Phone




Semester Dates

16 January -- 11 May 2007

Class Days


Class Time

11:00 - 12:15 PM

Credit Hours



The Secret Sharer, by Joseph Conrad.  From Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism, Bedford/St. Martin's, Boston.  1997.
Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice, by Charles E. Bressler.  4th ed.  Pearson/Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. 2007.

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

Additional journal articles and other material will occasionally be provided by the professor.

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email helpdesk@park.edu or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information http://www.park.edu/Current/.

Course Description:
An examination of key questions in contemporary theory and their historical roots, along with the practice of literary criticism today. English Majors only. 3:0:3

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze a range of theoretical issues dealing with contemporary approaches to authors, texts, and readers
  2. Compare different critical perspectives on a single literary text
  3. Analyze and interpret literary texts from distinct critical orientations

Core Assessment:

All Park University courses will include a Core Assessment with rubric. This will include ¾ of the Core Learning Outcomes listed above. The Core Assessment in this course will be a major critical paper of no fewer than 5 pages, which will include research and MLA documentation. The project will be completed in the final quarter of the term.

 The rubric for this assignment is published so the student can see the expectations.

Class Assessment:

Assessment will be based on attendance and participation; short papers on the various schools of literary criticism as they relate to the work of fiction; a presentation on a single school of criticism; a major research paper applying a specific type of literary criticism to an outside text. 


Grades will be determined according to a grading contract.  For a C, students will read The Secret Sharer, attend class and participate in discussions of the various schools of literary criticism, write 3-page responses (typed, ds, 12-pt) to three types of criticism, and write a 10-page analysis of an outside work using a single critical approach.
For a B, students will do all of the above, and write two additional 3-page responses (a total of five responses).
For an A, students will do all of the above, and give a 30-minute presentation of their research findings for the extended paper.  This presentation should include class interaction and have a visual component.

Late Submission of Course Materials:

Late material is a major pain for your professor and unfair to other students.  Unless you are in hospital, submit your work when it is due.  Acceptance of late material will be determined on an individual basis.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

You are all adults, so you know what is expected in a college classroom.   Rude or disruptive behavior will mean the end of your career in EN380.  Additionally, turn off your cell phones (If you are expecting an emergency call, turn it to vibrate mode, then take the call outside the classroom)

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

This course will be conducted as a seminar, emphasizing student discussion, so it will be critical to be current with the readings. It is equally obvious, I hope, that the following is merely a trail guide, and we may wander from the trail occasionally.
Week One: Introduction. Theories of Literature. Discussion of writer, reader, and text. Begin reading The Secret Sharer.
Week Two: Discussion of Conrad's work in traditional mode of elements of fiction. What is literary criticism? What does it add?
Week Three: Historical overview. Reading and interpretation. Modern linguistics and the language of literature.
Week Four: Russian formalism. Art as technique. Modernism. First short paper due.
Week Five: Rhetoric and reader response. Literature as equipment for living.
Week Six: Structuralism and semiotics. Second short paper due.
Week Seven: Deconstruction. Derrida and the politics of meaning.
Week Eight: Psychology and psychoanalysis. Third short paper due.
Week Nine: Marxism and economic interpretations.
Week Ten: New Historicism. Fourth paper due.
Week Eleven: Feminist criticism, feminist literature.
Week Twelve: Ecocriticism. The politics and language of nature.
Week Thirteen: Culture and Ethnicity. Fifth short paper due.
Weeks Fourteen and Fifteen: Presentation of research findings. You may choose any school of criticism, whether you have previously written a short response paper on it or not. Your presentation should include handouts, if possible, or visual apparatus relevant to your topic; an explanation of your selection; a discussion of how your approach changes more traditional responses to your chosen text. It should also include your own valorization of the writer-text-reader triad, and an articulation of implications for the classroom are manifest in your approach.

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87-89

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87
Intentional plagiarism will result in a student's failing the course.

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "W".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90
Two unexcused absences.  After that, the final grade will be lowered by one grade for each additional two absences.

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .


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Last Updated:1/9/2007 4:31:31 PM