English 4110/5110 Literary Criticism, Fall 2010

Section 01 (CRN 80023/80024): MW 2:00-3:15PM, Arts & Sciences 368


Professor: Dr. Alex E. Blazer



Phone: 478.445.0964


Office: Arts & Sciences 330

Office Hours:

MW 5:00-5:30 A&S 330,

T 2:00-3:15 A&S 330,

R 2:00-3:05 Blackbird, by appt


Course Description


While English 3900 is a survey of critical approaches to literature such as New Criticism and formalism, structuralism and semiotics, poststructuralism and postmodernism, reader-response criticism, deconstruction, New Historism, post colonialism, psychoanalytic criticism, Marxist criticism, feminist criticism, African-American criticism, and lesbian/gay/queer criticism, English 4110/5110 is a focused study of two or three interpretive methodologies. This course's Academic Assessment page describes our topics:

as well as course outcomes:

This semester, we will concentrate on psychoanalytic criticism, existentialism, and reader-response criticism. For each method, we will read both an introductory overview (Tyson for psychoanalytic and reader-response criticism and Solomon for existentialist criticism) and a collection of theoretical essays (Psychoanalytic Criticism, Existentialism, and Reader-Response Criticism); then we will practice interpreting a work of literature using the questions raised by the theory (McCarthy's Blood Meridian for psychoanalytic criticism, Sartre's Nausea for existentialist criticism, Dahlen's A Reading for reader-response criticism, and a film to be determined to practice the overlap of the theories). Undergraduate assignments include a discussion board response summarizing a theoretical article, an in class examination of the theory and practice of psychoanalytic criticism, and two take home exams on the theory and practice of existentialist and reader-response criticism, respectively. Graduate assignments include a teaching presentation of a theoretical article, an exam, a theoretical paper, and an interpretive research paper. 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 undergraduate course's prerequisite is ENGL 2110 or IDST 2305.


Course Materials


required (GCSU Bookstore or

McCarthy, Blood Meridian

Sartre, Nausea

Solomon, ed., Existentialism, 2nd ed.

Tompkins, ed., Reader-Response Criticism

Vice, ed., Psychoanalytic Criticism: A Reader

required (online)

various stories and articles

recommended (GCSU Bookstore or

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed.


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4110 Undergraduate Students


two article summaries, 5% each

You will write two 3-4 page article summaries that will summarize the theorist's approach to literature (culminating in an articulation of the theorist's primary interpretive question asked of any work of literature) and then responding to, evaluating, and asking questions of the theoretical method. Undergraduates will also be asked to informally present their response to the class.

three exams, 30% each

The first exam will be taken in class; the second and third exams will be taken at home. Exams will ask you to compare and contrast theories as well as practice theories in interpretive essays. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


5110 Graduate Students


presentation, 10%

You will give a 30-40 minute presentation, essentially teach an article to the class and leading class discussion.

take-home exam, 30%

You will take a 10-12 page take-home exam that will ask you to compare and contrast theories as well as practice theories in interpretive essays.

theoretical paper, 30%

You will write an 8-10 page theoretical paper examining an issue of importance to a theory.

interpretive paper, 30%

You will write a 15-20 page interpretive paper that applies the theoretical methodlogies of at least two theorists and incorporates at least five works of scholarly criticism. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


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 for each reading. We're going to be working with challenging texts; 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 Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course, of literature. 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.


The syllabus is available at We will be using GeorgiaVIEW and TurnItIn for assignments. It is your responsibility to learn GeorgiaView and TurnItIn. Check your university email for course-related messages. I suggest using a a free cloud computing service such as Dropbox, Live Mesh, or Mozy to save your work-in-progress. Students who text and web surf in class will be marked absent.


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond three days. Therefore, missing four class periods will result in a one letter final grade deduction and missing seven classes will result in automatic failure of the course. I suggest you use your three days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies, consistently leaving class early, texting, and surfing the internet will be treated as absences. Excuses like work, family, and scheduled doctor's appointments will be declined. The only acceptable excuses are death in one's immediate family and one's own medical emergency. If you participate in an extracurricular activity that you anticipate will cause you to miss class, I suggest you switch sections now. You can check your attendance online by looking for your course number and the last four digits of your student identification number.

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 three categories, for a possible one letter grade deduction total: 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. I encourage students to use my MS Word template.

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 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. Failing to submit 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 a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course.

Length Requirements

A formal paper or take-home exam will be penalized one-third of a letter grade if it does not end at least halfway down on the minimum page length while implementing 12 pt Times New Roman font, double-spacing, and 1" margins. Each additional page short of the minimum requirement will result in an a one-third letter grade penalty.


Do not do it. The Honor Code defines plagiarism as "presenting as one's own work the words or ideas of an author or fellow student. Students should document quotes through quotation marks and footnotes or other accepted citation methods. Ignorance of these rules concerning plagiarism is not an excuse. When in doubt, students should seek clarification from the professor who made the assignment." Section 3.01 of the Academic Affairs Handbook elaborates other examples of academic dishonesty and outlines disciplinary procedures and appeals for academic misconduct. Submitting the same paper in two different courses constitutes academic dishonesty. As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, any student found guilty of willful plagiarism or dishonesty will fail the assignment and the course. Students must submit all formal papers to

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. By contrast, students who regularly attend class, complete their work with academic integrity, and submit assignments on time will pass the course.


The last day to add a course is Wednesday, August 18. The last day to drop a course without fee penalty is Friday, August 20. The last day to withdraw from all courses without academic penalty (unless previously assigned an F by professor for absences) is Thursday, October 14.

Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability

If you have a disability as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, you may be eligible to receive accommodations to assist in programmatic and physical accessibility.  Disability Services, a unit of the GCSU Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, can assist you in formulating a reasonable accommodation plan and in providing support in developing appropriate accommodations to ensure equal access to all GCSU programs and facilities. Course requirements will not be waived, but accommodations may assist you in meeting the requirements.  For documentation requirements and for additional information, we recommend that you contact Disability Services located in Maxwell Student Union at 478-445-5931 or 478-445-4233.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is a free service available to all members of the university community. Consultants assist writers in the writing process, from conception and organization of compositions to revision to documentation of research. Located in Lanier Hall 209, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Fire Drills

Fire drills will be conducted during the semester.  In the event of a fire alarm signal, students will exit the building in a quick and orderly manner through the nearest hallway exit.  Learn the floor plan and exits of the A & S Building.  Do not use elevators.  Crawl on the floor if you encounter heavy smoke.  Assist disabled persons and others if possible without endangering your own life.  Assemble for a head count on front lawn main campus.


Course Schedule


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

Readings without links are from textbooks; readings with links are available online.


Week 1
M, 8-16

Literary Criticism

W, 8-18

Psychoanalytic Criticism

Tyson, "Psychoanalytic Criticism" (online)

Vice, Introduction (Vice 1-18)

Vice, Part I The Oedipus Complex and the Pleasure Principle (Vice 19-24)

Bloom, "A Meditation upon Priority, and a Synopsis" (Vice 25-29)

***The Bookstore says that Vice is out of print. Order a copy from Amazon Marketplace today.

Week 2
M, 8-23

Vice, Part II Sigmund Freud: The 'Wolf Man' (Vice 41-45)

Freud, "The Seduction and Its Immediate Consequences (Vice 46-9)

Nicholls, "The Belated Postmodern: History, Phantoms and Toni Morrison" (Vice 50-74)

Recommended: Freud, selected (online)

Recommended: Morrison, Beloved

W, 8-25

Vice, Part III Sigmund Freud versus Jacques Lacan: Edgar Allan Poe and Henry James (Vice 75-81)

Bonaparte, "Tales of the Mother" (Vice 82-3)

Johnson, "The Frame of Reference: Poe, Lacan, Derrida" (Vice 84-99)

Wilson, "The Ambiguity of Henry James" (Vice 100-5)

Felman, "Turning the Screw of Interpretation" (Vice 106-14)

Recommended: Poe, "The Purloined Letter" (online)

Recommended: James, The Turn of the Screw (online)

Week 3
M, 8-30

Vice, Part IV Jacques Lacan: the Unconscious Structured as a Language (Vice 115-9)

Lacan, "The Meaning of the Phallus" (Vice 120-9)

Rose, "Feminine Sexuality: Introduction" (Vice 130-5)

Grosz, "The Penis and the Phallus" (Vice 136-50)

In Class Activity: Reading Theory

W, 9-1

Vice, Part V Julia Kristeva: the Abjkect and the Semiotic (Vice 151-4)

Kristeva, "Approaching Abjection" (Vice 155-7)

Moi, "Language, Femininity, Revolution" (Vice 158-63)

Minow-Pinkney, "Mrs Dalloway" (Vice 164-73)

Week 4
M, 9-6
No Class: Labor Day
W, 9-8

Vice, Part VI Luce Irigaray: Femininity, Film and the Masquerade" (Vice 174-81)

Irigaray, "Women, the Sacred and Money" (Vice 182-92)

Doane, "Woman's Stake: Filming the Female Body" (Vice 193-210)

Week 5
M, 9-13

McCarthy, Blood Meridian

In Class Activity: Psychoanalyzing Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian

W, 9-15

Ai, poetry (online)

In Class Activity: Psychoanalyzing Ai's poetry

Week 6

M, 9-20

Undergraduate Exam 1 (In Class)

W, 9-22

Existentialist Criticism

Solomon, Introduction (Solomon xi-xx)

Dufrenne, "Existentialism and Existentialisms" (online)

In Class Activity: Some Questions Existentialist Critics Ask about Literary Texts

Graduate Exam Due at 2:00PM

Week 7
M, 9-27

Recommended (Existentialism): Hughes, "Existential Song"

Recommended (Existentialism): Frost, "The Road Not Taken"

Recommended (Existentialism): Violent Femmes, "Kiss Off"

Kierkegaard (Solomon 3-33; focus on "Truth Is Subjectivity" and "On Becoming a Chrisitian")

Recommended (Kierkegaard): Kierkegaard (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Recommended (Kierkegaard): Sexton, "Rowing"

Dostoevsky (Solomon 36-64)

W, 9-29

Nietzsche (Solomon 67-102; focus on from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, from Beyond Good and Evil and "On Truth")

Kafka (Solomon 171-3)

Camus (Solomon 184-205; focus on from The Myth of Sisyphus)

Recommended: Nine Inch Nails, "The Becoming"

Week 8
M, 10-4

Sartre (Solomon 206-72; focus on "The Origin of Nothingness," "Patterns of Bad Faith," and "Being-for-Others")

Sartre, "Why Write?" (online)

Recommended (Sartre, "The Origin of Nothingness"): Bell, "The Book of the Dead Man (#3)

Recommended (Sartre, "The Origin of Nothingness"): Bell, "The Book of the Dead Man" (Nothing)

Recommended (Sartre, "Patterns of Bad Faith): Plath, "In Plaster"

Recommended (Sartre, "Being-for-Others"): Plath, "Lady Lazarus"

In Class Activity: Existentialism Soundtrack

W, 10-6

de Beauvoir (Solomon 292-307)

Barnes (Solomon 308-18)

Week 9
M, 10-11

No Class: Fall Break

W, 10-13

Barnes, "Possibilities" (online)

Magliola, "Philosophical and Linguistic Background" (online)

In Class Activity: Phenomenology: From Existentialism to Reader-Response Criticism

Week 10
M, 10-18

Sartre, Nausea

In Class Activity: Interpreting Sartre's Nausea

W, 10-20

Beckett, Act Without Words (Solomon 365-9)

Rilke, poetry (online)

Week 11
M, 10-25

Reader-Response Criticism

Tyson, "Reader-Response Criticism" (online)

Tompkins, "An Introduction to Reader-Response Criticism" (Tompkins ix-xxvi)

Graham, "The Surface"

In Class Activity: Responding to Graham's "The Surface"

Undergraduate Exam 2 Due at 2:00PM

Graduate Theoretical Paper Due at 2:00PM

W, 10-27

Gibson, "Authors, Speakers, Readers, and Mock Readers" (Tompkins 1-6)

Prince, "Introduction to the Study of the Narratee" (Tompkins 7-25)

Riffaterre, "Describing Poetic Structures: Two Approaches to Baudelaire's 'Les Chats'" (Tompkins 26-40)

Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown" (online)

In Class Activity: Responding to Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown": Readers, Narratees, and Structures

Week 12
M, 11-1

Poulet, "Criticism and the Experience of Interiority" (Tompkins 41-9)

Iser, "The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach" (Tompkins 50-69)

W, 11-3

Fish, "Literature in the Reader: Affective Stylistics" (Tompkins 70-100)

Culler, "Literary Competence" (Tompkins 101-17)

In Class Activity: Responding to Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown": Affective Stylistics

Week 13
M, 11-8

Holland, "Unity Identity Text Self" (Tompkins 118-33)

Fish, "Interpreting the Variorium" (Tompkins 164-84)

W, 11-10

Michaels, "The Interpreter's Self: Peirce on the Cartesian 'Subject'" (Tompkins 185-200)

Tompkins, "The Reader in History: The Changing Shape of Literary Response" (Tompkins 201-32)

Week 14
M, 11-15

Davis, Chapter 10 Perchance to Dream (online)

Davis, Chapter 13 The Crown Prince (online)

In Class Activity: Responding to a Reader Reading (Novelist)

W, 11-17

Dahlen, "A Reading 7," "15," and "18" (online)

Recommended: Alexander, "Reading A Reading 18-20"

Recommended: Dahlen, reading March 15, 2008

Recommended: Dahlen, reading April 14, 2007

In Class Activity: Responding to a Reader Reading (Poet)

Week 15
M, 11-22

Film screening: Donnie Darko

W, 11-24

No Class: Thanksgiving

Week 16
M, 11-29

Film screening, concluded

W, 12-1

Film discussion

Exam 3 Abstracts Due

Graduate Interpretive Paper Abstract Due

Student Opinion Surveys (Bring your laptops)

M, 12-6

Last Day of Class

F, 12-10

Exam 3 Due at 2:00PM

Graduate Interpretive Paper Due at 2:00PM