ENG 2004: Exploring
Escape or Encounter?
By asking us to consider the challenge of growing in responsibility to self and society, fantasy fiction gives us more than just the pleasure of escape. It also offers the opportunity to discover how we could, should, and would act in situations that threaten our values, our lives, perhaps even our world. Through the works of Tolkien, Rowling, LeGuin, and others, we will examine the power of word magic to create complete and compelling worlds. To explore these worlds will take thought, imagination, self-knowledge, and compassion.
--think about the serious uses of fantasy fiction
--know more about fantasy as a literary genre
--recognize how style creates the substance of literary worlds
--enjoy more fully the pleasure fantasy offers.
The Parable of the Sower
Ursula Le Guin:
The Wizard of Earthsea
The Tombs of Atuan
The Farthest Shore
The Hero and the Crown
J. K. Rowling:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
J. R. R. Tolkien:
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
"On Fairy Stories" from Tree and Leaf*
"The Tale of Beren and Luthien," from
The asterisked short texts will be available on ERes or online; the URLs will be given in the daily assignment section of Blackboard. "On Fairy Stories" is available on ERes but not online. The major texts will be available at the College Bookstore. Many of you may already own the three volumes of LOTR, but though the text is the same in all editions, the page numbers may be different. If you are not using the one in the bookstore, please tell me what edition you are using so I can tell you how to locate specific references in your edition. NB Always read the introductions to the texts that have them, always bring to class the book we will be discussing.
Introduction to Course: what is fantasy and how does it work?
Fantasy centuries ago: Alice In
Wonderland, chapter 6*
Labor Day (Enjoy not laboring!)
Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, chapters 9-17
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, chapters 12-22
The Lord of the Rings II (FRb)
Day (no class)
of the Rings V (RKa)
Tolkien, "On Fairy Stories"*
Myth created ("The Tale of Beren and Luthien,"* "The Tale of
Aragorn and Arwen")
Preparation for group reports on Leguin's Earthsea trilogy
The Tombs of Atuan
McKinley, The Hero and the Crown
Lowry, The Giver
Butler (cont.), pulling together and course evaluations
TBA: final exam (TBA)
ASSIGNMENTS If you have misplaced your syllabus, you will find under Course Information a copy of the syllabus on Blackboard, the program we will use for group discussion outside of class as well as for turning in most class preparation exercises. The most up-to-date information about what we will be doing in class can be found in Blackboard's Assignment section. If school is closed, you will find any adjustments to the syllabus there. Please observe the deadlines for electronic submissions carefully: I often shape class according to what I see when I skim the preparation exercises. Late contributions to the Discussion Board are no more helpful to your learning than are hasty, thoughtless ones.
WRITTEN WORK: Roughly once a week you may be asked to answer (and perhaps to construct) a brief but probing question--one whose answer requires some analysis or reasoning rather than just a fact or plot summary. The night before class you are to e-mail to me (email@example.com) your paragraph answering your question or mine. Because l may begin class by asking a student to start off discussion in relation to his question, it must be a thoughtful one that cannot be answered by just a few words or without exploration. You will also be asked to write a short paper, a midterm and a final exam.
STANDARDS: I expect you to read the assigned material before class. What I look for from you is evidence that you have thought about what you have read and written. An essay that makes no clear point or contains many writing problems strongly suggests that the writer has not given it much thought--a writer who is not clear about what he is trying to say seldom says it clearly.
GRADING: The work for the course will be weighted thus:
15% discussion (in class or on Blackboard)
The usual class preparation exercise, a probing question that cannot be answered by "yes" or "no," a fact, or plot summary, will be graded + (good), = (average), - (not very good), or x (not submitted). At the end of the semester, if the average of grades is borderline, which grade the student gets depends upon attendance, contribution to class discussion, and whether written work came in on time.
ATTENDANCE is necessary because your active participation in class discussion is part of the learning experience for us all. More than three unexcused absences will lower your semester grade, so do not cut except for emergencies. Whether written work is due in class or online, please meet the deadline. Place all written work to be submitted in class on the teacher's desk as you enter; work will not be accepted after discussion of it has begun. A lateness of more than 10 minutes will count as half an absence, so come prepared and on time.
MY OFFICE HOURS:
WELCOME TO THE COURSE!