Professor Diana Joseph Office Hours:
MW 2:00-3:45 PA 104 Office: 201L Armstrong Hall
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 389-5144
English 449/549: Southern Women Writers
This course examines selected fiction and nonfiction prose by Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, and Dorothy Allison. Through class discussion, short papers and presentations, and researched literary analysis, we will explore the following questions: how are these texts crafted? How do the styles of individual authors compare and contrast? Is knowledge of the author’s life significant to understanding her work, or is the author “dead”? How does awareness of the critical response a book receives enlighten a reader’s understanding of it? How does the historical moment in which a text is set—along with that moment’s cultural, political, philosophical, racial, religious, and gendered influences—impact its meaning?
O’Connor, Flannery Mystery and Manners
The Complete Stories
Walker, Alice The Color Purple
In Love & Trouble
Allison, Dorothy Bastard Out of Carolina
Two or Three Things I Know for Sure
Participation=25% of final grade
Merely showing up is not participation. I define participation as your active engagement with the class, demonstrated through evidence of preparedness, and thoughtful contributions to discussions. Because this class relies so heavily on participation, you can’t sit silently and expect to do well (that’s intellectual freeloading.) But I also don’t want one voice to dominate class discussions (that’s just tedious.) Expect to listen as much as you talk.
Response Papers=50% of final grade
You’ll write a short paper—no more than one single-spaced page, 12 point font—in response to the assigned novel, short story or non-fiction book. MLA format. Each response will address the text in ONE of the following ways:
1. The Art
This approach requires that you limit your focus to a single aspect of craft. You might examine how metaphors are used. You might analyze the rhetorical effects of a single passage. You might discuss some aspect of characterization. The possibilities are wide, but your idea must be specific. Make sure your response goes beyond merely making observations; explain why your point is significant.
2. The Artist
This way to respond focuses on the author, but it should not be just a biography. Your point about the author must in some way enhance or deepen our understanding of the text.
3. The Scholarship
How have literary scholars responded to the work? Read a single critical essay about the text; write a brief summary of key points. How do you respond to the idea? How can you contribute to the dialogue?
4. The Universe
When was this text written? How have the cultural, social, political, historical, religious, philosophical, racial, gendered, etc. influences of the time lent meaning or significance to the text? How does knowing this enrich or deepen our understanding of the text?
Because your response cannot be more than a single-spaced page, make sure your idea is specific. I’m not interested in rambling or cloudy prose. Your response should not describe or discuss your personal feelings about the text, whether you liked it or disliked it. It should contain a clear, direct thesis as its first sentence; every claim it makes should be supported by evidence; how and why that evidence supports your idea must be clearly explained. Some responses require outside research; use MLA format. Each paper will be assessed on a scale of 1 to 10.
UNDERGRADUATES: YOU WILL WRITE 8 RESPONSE PAPERS; YOU MUST WRITE ABOUT EACH CATEGORY TWICE.
GRADUATE STUDENTS: YOU WILL WRITE 15 RESPONSE PAPERS; YOU MUST WRITE ABOUT EACH CATEGORY THREE TIMES. WHAT CATEGORY YOU WRITE ABOUT FOR THE THREE REMAINING PAPERS IS UP TO YOU.
As part of your participation grade, you will be asked to present your papers. Be prepared for this. Bring two copies to each class meeting: one to give to me; and one to place on the document camera for your presentation.
Researched Literary Analysis=25%
This assignment includes an annotated bibliography; a survey of scholarship; researched literary analysis in which you refute or advance the scholarly debate; and a reflective preface. MLA format.
UNDERGRADUATES: YOUR LITERARY ANALYSIS WILL BE A MINIMUM OF 10-15 PAGES.
GRADUATE STUDENTS: YOUR ESSAY ANALYSIS A MINIMUM OF 15-20 PAGES.
The annotated bibliography and reflective preface do not factor into the page count.
If you are uncertain about proper documentation techniques, refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. For your research, investigate the multiple resources available via electronic databases, especially JSTOR.
1. A clear thesis that makes a significant (original, not trite, clichéd or obvious) point
2. Logical claims that support the thesis without contradicting the facts of the texts.
3. There is adequate and relevant evidence to support each claim
4. There is well-developed explanation/discussion of how/why the evidence supports each claim
5. The ideas in the essay show originality and imagination
6. The essay is well-organized
7. The writer does not rely too heavily on any one source
8. The prose is readable: the writer varies sentence lengths and structure, uses strong verbs, has a strong voice, and avoids distracting mechanical and surface errors
Grade 90-100: significant thesis; excellent support of thesis; excellent discussion, logical organization, varied sentence lengths and structures; readable prose; practically error-free in grammar, spelling, and punctuation
Grade of 80-89: significant thesis; adequate support; good organization; competent sentences; precise diction; infrequent mechanical errors
Grade of 70-79: obvious thesis with relevant support; good organization; mechanically correct sentences; boring prose; occasional mechanical errors
Grade of 60-69: obvious or insignificant thesis with inadequate or irrelevant support; weak organization; tedious prose; many mechanical errors
Below 60: trivial thesis; lack of supporting material; lack of organization; frequent structural errors; frequent and repetitious mechanical errors; unreadable/incomprehensible prose
Do the work. Missed assignments cannot be made up. No late work is accepted. Your final grade will drop 5% for every class you miss over three. I don’t distinguish between excused and unexcused absences. Frequent tardiness will negatively affect your participation grade. Plagiarism results in failure of the course. All coursework must be completed to pass this class. Writing done for this class is considered public text. Assignments are tentative and subject to change.
Schedule of Events
Monday, January 14
O’Connor, Mystery and Manners, “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” 63
Wednesday, January 16
Mystery and Manners, “Writing Short Stories,” 87
O’Connor, Complete Stories, “Good Country People,” 271
Monday, January 21—NO CLASS—MLK DAY
Wednesday, January 23
Mystery and Manners, “The Church and the Fiction Writer,” 143
Complete Stories, “Revelation,” 488
Monday, January 28
Mystery and Manners, “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction,” 36
Complete Stories, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” 117
Wednesday, January 30—NO CLASS—JOSEPH AT AWP CONFERENCE
Monday, February 4
Mystery and Manners, “The Fiction Writer and His Country,” 25
Complete Stories, “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” 405
Wednesday, February 6
Writing a survey of scholarship
Monday, February 11
Mystery and Manners, “The Teaching of Literature,” 121
Walker, In Lover & Trouble, “Roselily,” 3
Wednesday, February 13
Mystery and Manners, “Total Effect and the Eighth Grade,” 135
In Love & Trouble, “The Child Who Favored Daughter,” 35
Monday, February 18
Mystery and Manners, “Southern Fiction,” 36
In Love & Trouble, “The Revenge of Hannah Kemhuff,” 60
Wednesday, February 20
Mystery and Manners, “A Memoir of Mary Ann.” 213
Monday, February 25
Allison, “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure”
Wednesday, February 27
Mystery and Manners, “Novelist and Believer,” 154
Monday, March 3
Mystery and Manners, “Catholic Novelists and Their Readers,” 169
Wednesday, March 5
Mystery and Manners, “The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South,” 191
Monday March 10—NO CLASS—SPRING BREAK
Wednesday, March 12—NO CLASS—SPRING BREAK
Monday, March 17
O’Connor, Wise Blood
Wednesday, March 19
Monday, March 24
Wednesday, March 26
Monday, March 31
Complete Stories, “Enoch and the Gorilla,” 108
Wednesday, April 2
Film of Wise Blood
Monday, April 7
Mystery and Manners, “The Regional Writer,” 51
Allison, Bastard out of Carolina
Wednesday, April 9
Bastard out of Carolina
Monday, April 14
Bastard out of Carolina
Wednesday, April 16
Bastard out of Carolina
Monday, April 21
Film of Bastard out of Carolina
Wednesday, April 23
Walker, The Color Purple
Monday, April 28
The Color Purple
Wednesday, April 30
Film of The Color Purple
Monday, May 5
Working on Literary Analysis
Wednesday, May 7
Last Day of Class