EN234 Introduction to Fiction

for FA 2009

Printer Friendly

Mission Statement: The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.

Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


EN 234 Introduction to Fiction


FA 2009 HO


Okerstrom, Dennis R.


Associate Professor, English and Liberal Studies


Ph.D., English and History

Office Location

305 Copley

Office Hours

7:30 -- 9, 11 -- 12 MWF; 2:45 -- 3:30 p.m. MW, or by appointment

Daytime Phone




Semester Dates

17 August - 11 Dec 2009

Class Days


Class Time

10:00 - 10:50 AM

Credit Hours



The Story and Its Writer (brief version) by Charters (ed.).  Bedford/St. Martin's, 7th ed. ISBN: 0312442718
Additional materials: loose-leaf paper for in-class quizzes

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

The Purdue University On-line Writing Lab:  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/
This site offers exercises for grammar, punctuation and mechanics and guidance for essay development and format. It also offers proper MLA format guidance.
The Park University Academic Success Center: http://www.park.edu/support/
Visit this site to learn of the many services offered through Park's ASC, located on campus across the hall from the library.
Students should work with tutors prior to submission of both essays assigned for this course.

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:
Introduction to fiction allows a student to perform a close reading of selected works of English and American prose fiction, emphasizing the historical develoment of the novel and short story. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:


Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify the definitive features of fiction as a literary genre
  2. Discuss a representative range of fictional texts
  3. Articulate a response/ interpretation of a single text or body of related texts

Core Assessment:

The Core Assessment for En 234 is a critical paper consisting of no fewer than 5-8 pages of original literary analysis using personal insights and primary and secondary sources. MLA documentation, including a Work Cited page, is also required. A minimum of 3 sources are required, and must include a range of types of sources, including online and traditional print sources. The core assessment must account for no less than 25 % of the final grade.

 The rubric for this assignment is included below.

Link to Class Rubric

Class Assessment:


Assessment will be based on:

1) Essay 1: 750 –1000 words in length, the first essay will focus on a short story from the text. Prewriting will be due; note due dates on schedule. 
2) Essay 2: 1250-2000 words in length, the second essay will focus on Conrad's Heart of Darkness and requires the correct use of sources; MLA format knowledge is expected for students in this class. Prewriting will be due; the final draft will be due during finals week. 
3) Frequent quizzes or group work will be administered at the beginning of class throughout the semester to measure student comprehension of reading assigned for that day. No makeup of quizzes or in-class work allowed.

4) Presentations; students will present key ideas of specific literary approaches in small groups, leading class discussion.  More information about content of the presentation will be provided.

5) A reading journal with a total of five (5) typed entries on stories of your choice is required. Please access the form attached below.



Please study the course rubric closely to gain a thorough understanding of evaluation of your assignments. Please note that e-companion will be utilized for certain aspects of this course. Access to a computer is required. Computers are available on campus.

Essay 1 (25 prewriting)                    75
Essay 2 (50 prewriting)                  125                                         
15 Quizzes (10 points each)           150 
Group Presentation                         100                                        
Reading journal (10 points ea)         50                                                                               

TOTAL POINTS                            525 



Late Submission of Course Materials:

Late submissions are a pain to the prof and unfair to other students.  Late work will lose 10 points for the first day it is late (including non-class days), 25 points if it is two days late, and no work will be accepted after three days.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

You know the rules: don't run with scissors, eat a good breakfast, no cutting in line.  Arrive on time for class.  Now the really important one: TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE, including the texting thingee.  Text in class, you will be asked to leave and counted absent.  See class attendance policy for how that affects your final grade. 

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week One:  Introductions: students, professor, texts.  What is fiction?  How is that any different than a lie?  Why do we read fiction?  Other kinds of reading.  What do we as readers bring to a text?  What factors influence how we read and what we see in fiction.  Read: "The Story of an Hour," 158.  Discussion.
Week Two:  Ways of reading.  Literary criticism and the reader's position in a culture.  Awareness of history, politics, culture, and how we are products of all that.  Read Alexie, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven," 15.  Does this story connect with you?  How, exactly?  Does a reader have to be Native American for this story to have meaning?   Read Atwood, "Happy Endings," 33.  What is your response to this short text?  Write it down immediately upon completing a first reading.  The read it again, and think of fairy tales.  A guy named Hemingway once said, "All stories, if carried far enough, end in death."  We know that, of course, but how does it affect our reading of fiction?
Week Three:  The triad: Author, Reader, text.  Read Updike, "A & P," 783.  How do you relate to the main character?  In what ways has the author prepared you for the ending?  Have you had similar experiences?  Is this a story mainly for young men?  Why or why not?  Read O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," 648.  1st journal entry due.
Week Four:  Interpretations and analysis.  Read "The Yellow Wallpaper," 313.  What is the historical (hysterical?) backdrop for this story?  What does it say about the valorization or denigration of women in the 19th and 20th centuries (and before)?  What is a feminist?  Why should we read any text through a particular lens?  Read Kincaid. "Girl," 477. 
Week Five:  Essay one topic due.  Read "The Things They Carried," 608.  What kinds of things did these riflemen in Vietnam carry?  Why does O'Brien spend so much time detailing the physical items carried?  What else did these men carry?   How did this story affect you as a reader?  How does it change your reception to know that the author was a combat vet of Vietnam?  Is it necessary that he be for you to buy into his story?  Read "Battle Royal," 266.  What is the war depicted in this story?   Group discussions of this story.
Week Six:  Writing workshop for essay one.  Read 1070--1085, Appendix 4.   Rough draft due Friday.
Week Seven:  Irony, plot twists, craft of the fiction writer.  Read "The Necklace," 523, and "A Rose for Emily," 286.  2nd journal entry due. 
Week Eight: Essay one due. Read "Civil Peace," 10; "Some Are Born to Sweet Delight," 327.  Read Achebe, 827.  Discussion of Conrad's "Heart of Darkness."   Scholars should begin reading Conrad, 165.  Mid-term exam Friday.
Week Nine: Fall Break!
Weeks Ten and Eleven: Conrad's "Heart of Darkness."  What is the historical background of this story?  What is the title saying?  How much of an author's life should be read into a work?   3rd journal entry due.
Week Twelve:  Writing workshop.  Choosing a topic related to "Heart of Darkness."  Group brainstorming, research, pre-writing.  Rough draft due Friday.
Week Thirteen:  Style.  Read Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants," 350; Jewett, "A White Heron," 382; Erdrich, "The Red Convertible," 277.  4th journal entry due.
Week Fourteen:  Read "Young Goodman Brown," 339; "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," 75;  "The Open Boat," 228.  More about the authors.
Week Fifteen: Read "Who's Irish?' 373; "Sweat," 355; "Yellow Woman," 722.  Race and Gender.  5th journal entry due.
Week Sixteen:  Final Exam periods.  Essay 2 due.

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 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

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 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92
If you have any questions about plagiarism, ask the professor.  If you turn in work that is not entirely your own, you will fail this class.

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 "F".
  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 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95
I will give each student 3 days (one week) of missed classes without questions or penalty. For each three absences after that, your final grade will be lowered by one letter grade.  If you face unusual circumstances, talk to me.

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 .

Journal submission form


CompetencyExceeds Expectation (3)Meets Expectation (2)Does Not Meet Expectation (1)No Evidence (0)
Provides well-chosen personal and critical insights into the literature through close reading that supports thesis. Makes adequate personal and critical statements into the literature, through close reading, though sometimes strays from thesis. Provides only plot summary or  biographical information. Paper shows ittle or no evidence of close reading of literature. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Integrates primary and secondary sources in original and perceptive ways, using MLA Documentation Style, that contribute innovative insights and new knowledge to the field, while retaining a personal voice. Integrates primary and secondary sources adequately, using MLA Documentation, though insights are not particularly innovative or personal. Integrates very little from primary/secondary sources, lacks control of MLA Documentation Style, and fails to bring new insights to the literature. Does not submit assignment, or uses inadequate or no sources or no MLA documentation of sources. 
Provides convincing and insightful connections between texts to illustrate the main focus of the essay. Provides connections between texts that are clear but mundane. Ideas sometimes stray from thesis. Provides vague and under-developed connections between texts. Does not submit assignment or provides no clear connections between texts. 
Content of Communication                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Skillfully supports interpretation with detailed analysis, logical organization, and convincing conclusion. Adequately supports interpretation, though more detailed discussion is needed. Organization is weak, and conclusion is predictable. Interpretation lacks clarity, plausibility, or adequate detail. Lack of a clear organizing principle obscures point. No plausible conclusion. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to requirements. 
Technical Skill in Communicating                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Employs conventions of Standard Written English with grace and style in a well organized, fully developed essay. Employs conventions of Standard Written English adequately in a reasonably well organized and well developed essay. Writing shows persistent problems with use of Standard Written English. Statements are often illogical or incomprehensible; organization and development of ideas do not support thesis. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to requirements. 
Provides new insights into specific, well-chosen passages from primary text. Adequately examines specific passages, though with little innovation. Does not examine specific passages or does so using vague generalities. Does not submit assignment or does not examine passages closely. 
Responds to a range of literary texts.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Analysis includes full discussion of elements of fiction as a genre and makes connections to a range of texts. Adequately discusses elements of fiction as a genre. Does not discuss elements of fiction; makes no meaningful connection to other texts. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to requirements. 


This material is protected by copyright and can not be reused without author permission.

Last Updated:8/16/2009 10:54:47 AM