21L.003 | Fall 2003 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Fiction


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

This is a HASS -CI course. Like other communications-intensive courses in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, it allows students to produce 20 pages of polished writing with careful attention to revision. It also offers substantial opportunities for oral expression, through presentations of written work, student-led discussion, and class participation. The class has a low enrollment that ensures maximum attention to student writing and oral expression; regular meetings with a writing tutor on drafts and revisions are helpful and are required. Because of the revision, there is no final exam. This course investigates the uses and boundaries of fiction in a range of novels and narrative styles - traditional and innovative, western and nonwestern - and raises questions about the pleasures and meanings of verbal texts in different cultures, times, and forms. Toward the end of the term, we will be particularly concerned with the relationship between art and war in a diverse selection of works.

Required Reading

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. Penguin.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Penguin.
Melville, Herman. Typee. Penguin.
Tolstoy, Leo. “Hadji Murad”. Great Short Works. Harper & Row.
Keller, Nora Okja. Comfort Woman. Penguin.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Penguin.
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. Penguin.
Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. Harcourt Brace.

Course Expectations

  • Attendance and Participation (30 %) This is a discussion course where your active attendance and participation in class are vital to your success and that of the group. Bring your text to class and be prepared to read aloud, debate vigorously, listen, and enjoy. Contributions to the classroom discussion list figure in classroom participation, and students will be asked to lead discussions and classroom workshops as well. If you must miss class because of a medical or personal emergency, you should notify me beforehand of the fact by phone, email, or in person, and get the information you missed. Any unexcused absence deducts a percentage point from your final grade: two latenesses count as one absence. If you have a conflict, like a recitation, sports commitment, or job that meets during this class, you should not take the course. Attendance at meetings with the course tutor and at the special events with Nora Okja Keller is required.
  • Written Work (70 %-First essay and revision 10% each, next two essays 15% each, final essay 20%). Essays are due at the beginning of class on the day assigned. If you need an extension (to the next class period), you must get permission before the paper is due. A paper coming in after the next class loses one third of a grade for each day it is late. You must meet with the course tutor and revise the first essay by the due date and may revise any other (except the last), if you schedule a conference with the course tutor immediately after receiving the graded essay and submit a new essay within a week of getting it back. A revision grade will replace the original grade only if it is higher. Essays must be typed or word-processed, double-spaced, and adequately margined, should include a title, and need to observe the conventions of grammar and spelling.

Statement on Plagiarism

Plagiarism attacks the freedom and integrity of thought. Especially in a class that will depend to some extent on online research, you must know what constitutes plagiarism and avoid it. The Literature Department has formulated this statement and policy for all plagiarism cases


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 see the MIT Web site on plagiarism.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2003
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments