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English 481: Popular Then/Classic Now Previous Courses

English 481

Syllabus and Schedule of AssignmentsSpring 2012
12:00 noon – 1:15 Tuesdays and Thursdays
242 Murrow East


Dr. Donna Campbell
Avery 357 • 335-4831
Email (best way to reach me):
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:25-2:30
Virtual Office Hours via Skype or Google chat: dmcampbellwsu

Course blog:

This course will focus on selected American authors from 1865-1940, with special emphasis on their position in literary culture during their own time and their place in literary history today.  Our course will address the following questions: “Why were these authors popular or critically acclaimed in their own day?  Why do we still read them today?”  Rather than reading one work apiece by a greater number of authors, we’ll concentrate on reading several works by each selected author. We’ll also read responses to their work during their lifetimes and writing by others in their literary circles.

The goals for students in the course are as follows:

  • To read and closely analyze a number of works of classic American literature within the course materials described.
  • To understand that the reasons for an author’s popularity and critical reputation may shift over time, and to conduct independent research into those reasons.
  • To learn about significant movements and trends in American literature (realism, naturalism, and modernism, for example).
  • To work with and learn to evaluate primary and secondary resources, includinglocating primary print sources and digitized versions online, learning to use the MLA Bibliography and other databases to find secondary sources, and learning to assess web materials for reliability, and locating primary source materials.
  • To synthesize the knowledge thus gained into papers and presentations in order to disseminate those insights to the class.

Required Texts
Baym, Nina, ed.Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. C. 7th Ed. Norton, 2007. 978-0393927412.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises.Scribner, 2006. 978-0743297332.
Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome and Summer. Modern Library, 2001. 978-0375757280.

Important: You need to bring your book with you to class each day. Having your book in class is a vital part of class participation: you’ll be asked to read passages aloud, give page citations, and so forth. Reading the book online and then coming to class is not sufficient, and your class participation grade will be lower as a result.

Schedule of Assignments. This is a tentative guide to the assignments; it may change as the course progresses. If there are no page numbers, the reading is available on the Readings page or, for 20th-century works, in Angel (; please print it out and bring it to class. Use your common sense: if a page number appears to be incorrect, read the selection even if all the pages aren’t listed here.

Week Date Reading Assignments Writing Assignments
1 1/10 Introduction
1/12 Mark Twain
Twain, “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (104-108)
Twain,”A True Story” (online)
Twain, “A Visit to Niagara” (online)
Sign up for weblog, report, or both
2 1/17 Twain, “The Whittier Birthday Dinner Speech” (online)
Twain, “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences” (294-302)
Letters from the Earth (307-318)
“The War Prayer” (322-324)
1/19 WSU Snow Day: No Class Weblog post #1
3 1/24 Emily Dickinson: Versions and Revisions
Read all but especially 67, 124, 185, 199, 258, 409, 479, 591, 764. (We will not discuss all of them today.)(74-92)
1/26 Emily Dickinson in Context
Poems from the Household Book of Poetry (handout) and Dickinson poems; critical contexts for Dickinson
Laptop day: bring your laptop if you have one

Weblog post #2

4 1/31 Local Color and Regionalism
Freeman, “A New England Nun” (626-634)
Freeman, “The Revolt of ‘Mother'” (635-645)
2/2 Was it . . . MURDER?

Questions for discussion

Freeman, “The Long Arm” (also online here) (Note: Because this text is online and can’t easily be printed, you can bring a laptop for referring to the text.)
Freeman, “Old Woman Magoun” (also online here)
Laptop day: bring your laptop if you have one.

Weblog post #3
5 2/7 Workshop for Paper 1
Laptop day: bring your laptop if you have one
Bring draft of Paper 1
2/9 Chesnutt, “The Goophered Grapevine” (689-695)
“Dave’s Neckliss” 
Weblog post #4
Short Paper 1 due
6 2/14 Chesnutt, “The Wife of His Youth” (696-70)3
“The Passing of Grandison” (704-715)Laptop day: bring your laptop if you have one
2/16 Paul Laurence Dunbar (all) (1038-44)

Guest lecture by Susan Duba on comic books/graphic novels

Weblog post #5
7 2/21 Trip to the MASC
2/23 Exam 1
8 2/28 Naturalism
Jack London, “The Law of Life,” “To Build a Fire” (1052-1067)
3/1 London, “The Mexican,” “The House of Pride,” “Mauki” (1067-1104) Weblog post #6
9 3/6 Modernist Poetry/Popular PoetryThe Heirs of Emily Dickinson?
Stephen Crane, poems (handout)
Robert Frost, “Design,” “Desert Places,” “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and other poems (handout)
Laptop day: bring you laptop if you have one
3/8 Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man,” “Anecdote of the Jar,” “The Death of a Soldier,” “The Plain Sense of Things” (handout) Weblog post #7
Short Paper 2 due
10 3/12-16 Spring Break
11 3/20 Edith Wharton
“Roman Fever” (843-852)
“The Other Two” (829-843)
3/22 Wharton, Ethan Frome (all) Weblog post #8
12 3/27 Wharton, Summer (all) Proposal for Paper 4 due
3/29 No class Weblog post #9
Optional Short Paper 3 due
13 4/3 Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age
F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” “The Ice Palace” (Angel)
Precis assignment due
4/5 Fitzgerald, “May Day,” “Winter Dreams,” “Babylon Revisited”(Angel) Weblog post #10
14 4/10 Exam 2
4/12 No class
15 4/17 Hemingway and The Lost Generation
Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (read all)
4/19 The Sun Also Rises, discussion continued Optional weblog post #11 due
Paper 4 due
16 4/24 Presentations
4/26 Presentations

Requirements and Assignments

Attendance and Class Participation.  Attendance is expected, as is class participation; both are essential parts of the course. You have four free absences; a fifth absence means that you may fail the course.

Class participation is important, and you should come to class prepared to discuss each day’s reading. Since the syllabus is online, as are the readings not in your textbooks, you should have no trouble in reading the next day’s assignments even if you’re absent on the previous day. If you have questions about the day’s reading, don’t hesitate to ask; chances are good that someone else had the same question.

Because we will be reading and analyzing passages from the readings during the class period, bringing your book with you is an essential part of class participation and will count in your class participation grade. As mentioned above, reading the assignment online and then coming to class is not sufficient.

Formal Papers. Students in this class will write the following:

  • Two shorter papers of literary interpretation or analysis requiring no research (3-4 pages or 750-1000 words).
  • The third paper is optional; it includes a creative topics option and may substitute for either of the first two. In other words, if you complete all three short papers, the lowest short paper grade will be dropped.
  • One longer paper (8-10 pages) that will require either research or the reading of additional texts. This paper will be the subject of a final presentation. The longer paper may be a group project and may take the form of a web site, wiki, or video production; more details will be available later in the course

I will use abbreviations as references to grammatical principles on your corrected papers. The abbreviations and accompanying explanations are available on the “Key to Comments” document here:

Format. Papers must be neatly typed and carefully proofread. Citations should follow MLA style as outlined in the MLA Handbook, Bedford Handbook, or other such guides. See more formatting guidelines at this link:

Electronic Version. Paper versions of papers (hard copies) are due at the beginning of class on the deadline date. If you prefer, you can upload an electronic copy to Angel ( by 9 p.m. on the deadline date. Either a paper version or an electronic version is acceptable; paper versions will receive handwritten comments, and electronic versions will receive typed comments in the margins. Electronic versions will be returned through Angel in .pdf format.

If you upload your paper, name your file as follows: LastnameFirstinitial_ClassNumber_Papernumber. Example: If Joan Smith turns in her first paper, the file would be called SmithJ_481_Paper1.doc.

Late Papers and Extensions. Late papers are penalized at the rate of one letter grade (10 points) per class day late; a paper that would have received a “B” on Tuesday will receive a “C” if handed in on Thursday.

  • If you do not turn in a paper, you will receive a 0 for that portion of your grade. Papers received after four class days will receive 50 points but will not be formally graded.
  • You have one 48-hour extension in this class. This extension means that your paper will be due on the next class day, which could be more than 48 hours, without penalty.You must request the extension ahead of time, and you should save it for a true emergency, since no other extensions will be granted for illness, funerals, weddings, or any other reason.

Exams. This course has two exams. Exams in this course will consist of objective (multiple choice, short answer, matching) questions, identification questions, and an essay written in class. Exams cannot be made up without a doctor’s note.

Quizzes. Unannounced quizzes over the reading will be given frequently in this class. The quizzes test your specific knowledge of the reading assignment for that day and sometimes ask about information from a previous day’s class discussion or lecture. For example, you might be asked the name of a character, the meaning of a term discussed in the previous class, the character associated with a particular quotation, or the results of a specific action that occurs in a scene. Their purpose is to reinforce your close reading of the material by asking you about significant points in the book.

  • Quizzes are usually composed of 10 multiple-choice questions, although some quizzes will ask you to write a few sentences in response to a question. If you’ve done the reading and have paid attention in class, you should easily be able to get a 10/10 on them.
  • Quizzes cannot be made up, even if you are absent because of illness, but the lowest quiz grade will be dropped.
  • Quizzes are usually given in the first 10 minutes of class; if you come in late and the quiz is in progress, you will not be able to take the quiz.
  • An optional quiz will be given as a universal “make-up” quiz at the end of the semester.
  • Students who have their books will be able to look up material for the bonus questions on quizzes.

In-class writing and short assignments. Short, typed responses to the reading may be assigned from time to time, as will short pieces of in-class writing.

Précis. One of the out-of-class assignments will be to write a précis of a journal article. You can find the précis assignment online.

Reports and Blogs. Students in this class will either present a brief oral report to the class or keep an online journal (weblog) of their reading this semester. Both options will involve about the same amount of work, but with the blog option, you’ll be spreading the work out over the entire semester. Those who choose both to present a report and to keep a weblog will not have to take the second exam.

  • You’ll sign up for a report or a weblog in class. See the Reports and Blogs pages for more details.
  • To make the schedule updatable and available to all, it will be posted on our course site, as will the list of blogs.
  • Because the point of the weblog is to share your thoughts with others in the class, our main class site will contain a link with your name as part of the requirement. If you have any privacy concerns (under FERPA) about having people know that you are in this class or do not want your name posted anywhere on our class site, you should choose the Reports option instead. You’ll also need to write to me (on paper) requesting that your name be omitted from the Reports page.


Plagiarism Policy. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of someone else’s words or ideas. This definition includes not only deliberately handing in someone else’s work as your own but failing to cite your sources, including Web pages and Internet sources.

  • For a first offense, any paper plagiarized in whole or in part will receive an “F” (0 points), and the incident must be reported to the WSU Office of Student Conduct.  You will NOT be allowed to rewrite the plagiarized paper for a better grade.
  • Penalties for a second offense can range from failing the course to suspension from the university.

WSU Statement on Academic Integrity. As an institution of higher education, Washington State University is committed to principles of truth and academic honesty. All members of the University community share the responsibility for maintaining and supporting these principles. When a student enrolls in Washington State University, the student assumes an obligation to pursue academic endeavors in a manner consistent with the standards of academic integrity adopted by the University. To maintain the academic integrity of the community, the University cannot tolerate acts of academic dishonesty including any forms of cheating, plagiarism, or fabrication. Washington State University reserves the right and the power to discipline or to exclude students who engage in academic dishonesty.

Electronics PolicyRecent studies have shown that people remember material better when they take notes by hand rather than on the computer, since typing on the computer tends to produce a transcription rather than the kind of selective note-taking that leads to understanding. Also, students participate more actively when they are not using a laptop, which benefits their class participation grade, and there arefewer distractions in the classroom without laptops. The following policies thus apply in this class:

  • No cell phones or texting. Those using cell phones or texting will be counted as absent for the day.
  • No laptops (iPads, netbooks, etc.) except on laptop days unless you have a reason that you’ve cleared with me ahead of time. If you must have a laptop open, the wireless should be turned off except on laptop days.

WSU Policy on Students with Disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and may need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please visit the Access Center. All accommodations MUST be approved through the Access Center (Washington Building, Room 217). Please stop by or call 509-335-3417 to make an appointment with an Access Advisor.

Safety Policy. See also the WSU Safety Policy ( and Safety Plan (

General Grading Criteria: List available

Because of FERPA and privacy issues, no grades will be discussed or transmitted by e-mail or instant messaging.

Exams (exams, 10% each) 20 percent
Short papers (2 at 15% each) 30 percent
Precis assignment 5 percent
Report or weblog 10 percent
Longer Paper or Project (20%) plus presentation (5%) 25 percent
Quizzes, class participation, group presentations, and in-class writings 10 percent