Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

This course offers students ways to become more engaged and curious readers for life. By learning the language of selected short stories and novels, students learn the language of literary description. There will be a strong emphasis on class discussion and writing. Readings will include fiction by O'Conner, Joyce, Tolstoy, Mann, Shelley, and Baldwin.

Course Goals

"Reading Fiction" has several aims over the arc of the semester: primarily, to increase ways for you to become engaged and more curious readers for life; to increase your confidence in coming to greater consciousness as writers thinking about literary texts; and to provide you with the language for literary description, just as you already have the language for other kinds of description. With as much presence of mind as possible, we will read essays, short stories and novels, the forms and structures of which you will intuit readily.

Course Readings

Buy at Amazon Bishop, Elizabeth. "The Moose." In Poems, Prose, and Letters. Edited by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. New York, NY: Library of America, 2008. ISBN: 9781598530179.

Buy at Amazon Welty, Eudora. "Finding A Voice." In One Writer's Beginnings. New York, NY: Warner Books, 1985, pp. 71-105. ISBN: 9780446329835.

Buy at Amazon Schwartz, Delmore. In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories. New York, NY: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1978, pp. 1-10. ISBN: 9780811206808.

Required Texts

Buy at Amazon Joyce, James. "Araby." In The Dubliners. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1996, pp. 29-35. ISBN: 9780140247749.

Buy at Amazon O'Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. New York, NY: Harcourt, 1992. ISBN: 9780151365043.

Buy at Amazon Mann, Thomas. Death in Venice and Other Stories. New York, NY: Bantam Classics, 1988. ISBN: 9780553213331.

Buy at Amazon Tolstoy, Leo. Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth. New York, NY: Penguin Classics, 1964. ISBN: 9780140441390.

Buy at Amazon Baldwin, James. Giovanni's Room. Peaslake, Surrey GU5 9SW: Delta, 2000, chapters 1-3. ISBN: 9780385334587.

Buy at Amazon Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Foster City, CA: Cliff Notes, 2001. ISBN: 9780764587269.

Recommended Texts

Buy at Amazon Strunk, William, and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. Burnt Mill, Harlow, Essex, England: Longman, 2008. ISBN: 9780205632640.

Buy at Amazon Hacker, Diana. A Writer's Reference. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1992. ISBN: 9780312052546.

Course Requirements

Both written and oral communication will be required. Students are expected to write a minimum of 20 pages of revised writing in spread over four essays and frequent reading responses. One oral presentation as well as active class participation is also required. There will be no examinations.

Class Participation (including oral presentation): 20%

Class and conference attendance as well as active participation in both are required.

Oral Presentation

Every student is required to present a talk in class (7 minutes) on a passage of your choosing from an assigned text on its assigned date. The talk should help stimulate a discussion through arguments and questions.

Written Work: 80%

There will be four papers including one required revision during the semester. Late essays will result in 1/3 letter grade reduction for every day (not class) they are overdue. The paper assignments will follow that of the oral presentation; each will be grounded in your primary response and evolving analysis of that work through a specific passage that leads you to larger considerations of the work as a whole.

Course Grades

Class participation (including oral presentation) 20%
Written work 80%


MIT Literature Statement on Plagiarism

Plagiarism—use of another's intellectual work without acknowledgement—is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else's work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student's own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution, consult the style guides available at the Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.




Bishop, The Moose

2 Bishop, The Moose (cont.)  

Bishop, The Moose (cont.)

Welty, Finding a Voice

4 Joyce, Araby  
5 Joyce, Araby (cont.)  
6 Tolstoy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth  
7 Tolstoy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (cont.)  
8 Tolstoy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (cont.) Essay 1 due (5 pages)
9 Tolstoy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (cont.)  
10 Mann, Tonio Kruger  
11 Mann, Tonio Kruger (cont.)  
12 Baldwin, Giovanni's Room (chapters 1-3)  
13 Baldwin, Giovanni's Room (chapters 3-5)  
14 Baldwin, Giovanni's Room  
15 Shelley, Frankenstein (volume 1) Essay 2 due (5 pages)
16 Shelley, Frankenstein (volume 2)  
17 Shelley, Frankenstein (volume 3)  
18 Shelley, Frankenstein (volume 3) (cont.)  
19 O'Conner, A Good Man is Hard to Find  
20 O'Conner, A Good Man is Hard to Find (cont.)  
21 Joyce, The Dead Essay 3 due (5 pages)
22 Joyce, The Dead (cont.)  
23 Schwartz, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities  
24 Schwartz, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities (cont.)  
25 Last class Essay 4 due (rewrite)