English 250: Introduction to Fiction

Dr. Richard Ruppel: Chapman University—Department of English
Updated May 8, 2012

Useful Links

Office: 24A - Wilkinson
Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday, 9:45-11:45am & by appointment
Phone: 997-6754 (office) 
Email: ruppel@chapman.edu 
Class Meetings: Tuesday & Thursday:  8:30-9:45am.  Beckman Hall 205


·         The Art of the Story: An International Anthology of Contemporary Short Stories, ed. by Daniel Halpern

·         The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

·         Miss Garnet’s Angel, Salley Vickers

·         A Pale View of Hills, Kazuo Ishiguro

Course Description and Objectives: This course will introduce (or, for many of you, re-introduce) the elements of fiction:  plot, character, scene, style, point of view, symbols, themes, and conflict.  And we’ll look at the stories and novels from several different theoretical points of view:  feminist, Marxist, and new-historical, always paying close attention and reading closely.  We’ll read stories and novels by authors who are still living, so this is a course focusing on contemporary fiction.  English is increasingly an international language – spoken as the official language in fifty countries, and the most preferred second language.  So we’ll read novels and stories by authors from all over the world.   

Because we will pay attention not only to the themes and cultural implications of our readings but also to fiction as an art form, English 250 satisfies the “Artistic Inquiry” General Education requirement. 

Like all literature courses, this class has an important writing component.  We will devote class time to developing your essay topics, and we'll go over the criteria I'll use to evaluate your essays.  You will discuss and clear your topics with me, and I will accept a revision of one of your essays.  You can expect me to read your essays closely. 

Finally, 250 is one of the electives you may take to fulfill the English literature major.  We will pay special attention to numbers 1, 2, 4, and 6 of the English Literature Program Learning Objectives listed below, and you will be able to develop and demonstrate these skills in your discussion board responses, formal essays, and essay exam: 

1.    Skill in critical reading, or the practice of identifying and interpreting the formal, rhetorical, and stylistic features of a text


2.    Ability to identify and compare key literary movements and genres


3.    Ability to explain and apply significant theoretical and critical approaches in the field of English studies


4.    Skill in writing grammatically, coherently, and persuasively


5.    Skill in finding, analyzing, and utilizing secondary sources (including the appropriate methods of citation)


6.    Skill in crafting a compelling thesis-driven essay, with substantiating evidence

Weekly Syllabus*

Week 1 – January 31-February 2:  Introductions and one story from the anthology. 
Week 2 – February 7-9: Stories by Richard Bausch, Russell Banks, and Raymond Carver.

Week 3 – February 14-16: Stories by Sandra Cisneros, Lydia Davis, Tobias Wolff, and Jim Blaylock, “The Dry Spell.” (Jim will be in class Thursday to discuss the story.)  
Week 4 – February 21-23: 1st student presentation (Tuesday): “Dirt Angel,” by Jeanne Wilmot, and “The Twenty-Seventh Man,” by Nathan Englander and A Handmaid’s Tale
Week 5 – February 28-March 1: Stories, including
"The Immortals" by Martin Amis (25) and "Night Women" by Edwidge Danticat (196) for the Group 2 presentation Thursday. 
Week 6 – March 6-8:  One story and discussion of paper topics - Essay writing workshop – bring introductory paragraph (two copies) to class Tuesday (March 6). 
Week 7 – March 13-15:  Miss Garnet’s Angel and student story selection and presentation 3 (Paper 1 due March 15) 
Week 8
 – March 20-22: Stories, including student selection and presentation 4. 
Week 9
 – March 27-29: Stories including student selection and presentation 5. 

                                                          Spring Break

Week 10 – April 10-12:  A Pale View of Hills and Group 6 presentation:  Mary Morris, “The Lifeguard,” and Joyce Carol Oates, “Mark of Satan.”   

Week 11 – April 17-19:  Stories, including group 7’s presentation on Ishiguro’s “A Family Supper” and Murakami’s “The Elephant Vanishes.”.   
Week 12 – April 24-26:  Stories including student selection and presentation (8) and discussion of paper topics. 
Week 13 – May 1-3:  Stories. (Paper 2 due)
Week 14 – May 8-10:  Last words, preparation for final.  
Week 15 - Final: 8-10:30am, Tuesday, May 15.       

*These dates may change, but I'll give you plenty of notice, and I'll keep the syllabus updated on the Web.  

Course and Paper Requirements

Final drafts of your papers should be submitted both as hard copies in class and via email.  All students will write one of the required essays.  But some of you might decide to submit some other project in lieu of one of the essays.  We’ll discuss possibilities in class. 

If you anticipate having trouble getting an assignment in on time, let me know in advance. Unexcused late papers or projects will be marked down one letter grade per week.

You will be allowed 4 free absences through the semester. Any absences after that will affect your grade, and you can't pass this class if you miss 7 or more classes.

Keep on top of the reading and other work through the semester. If you haven't read the assignment, you will find our class discussion both incomprehensible and dull.

Assignments & Participation
*: 20% 
Presentation:  10%
Essay 1: 15% (5-6 pages)
Essay 2: 25% (6-7 pages)
Final: 30%

*This is primarily your grade on the Blackboard Discussion Board posts and for your work leading class discussions.  Here are my criteria for evaluating your posts:

1. The posting should respond as specifically as possible to the prompt (or you should indicate why you’re modifying the prompt).

2. The posting should reveal close engagement with the work under discussion.

3. The posting should contribute to the discussion, so later postings should not simply repeat earlier postings, and they should reflect some engagement with earlier postings.

4. Postings should be substantive. 

Student-led discussions:  You and one or two other colleagues will lead one class discussion this semester, beginning February 23.  (The schedule is posted in the “Contents” section of Blackboard.)

Chapman University Academic Integrity Policy

Chapman University is a community of scholars that emphasizes the mutual responsibility of all members to seek knowledge honestly and in good faith.  Students are responsible for doing their own work, and academic dishonesty of any kind will be subject to sanction by the instructor and referral to the university's Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose additional sanctions up to and including dismissal.  (See the Undergraduate Catalog for the full policy.)

Chapman's Students with Disabilities Policy:

In compliance with ADA guidelines, students who have any condition, either permanent or temporary, that might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the beginning of the term. The University, through the Disability Services Office, will work with the appropriate faculty member who is asked to provide the accommodations for a student in determining what accommodations are suitable based on the documentation and the individual student needs. The granting of any accommodation will not be retroactive and cannot jeopardize the academic standards or integrity of the course.

Useful Links:


·         Essay on “The Management of Grief.”  Drexel interview with Bharati Mukherjee. 

·         Interview with Salley Vickers about Miss Garnet’s Angel.  Vickers’ pages devoted to the novel. 

·         Amos Oz YouTube.

·         Perceptive, early New York Times review of A Pale View of Hills.



For Thursday, February 2 (Ground Hog’s Day):  Read Salmon Rushdie’s “The Prophet’s Hair.”
For Tuesday, February 7:  Read Richard Bausch’s “Aren’t You Happy For Me” (85-95). 
For Thursday, February 9:  Read Russell Banks’ “My Mothers Memoirs, My Father’s Lie, and Other Stories” (63-68), and Raymond Carver’s “Are These Actual Miles?” (146-151).
For Tuesday, February 14:  Read Sandra Cisneros’s “Never Marry a Mexican” (179-188) and Lydia Davis’s “The House Behind” (199-202).  Answer the question on Blackboard.
For Thursday, February 16:  Read “The Dry Spell,” by Jim Blaylock, and “The Night in Question,” by Tobias Wolff.  Formulate one question for Professor Blaylock.  Begin reading Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale.
For Tuesday, February 21:  Read the first 24 chapters of The Handmaid’s Tale and, to prepare for the first presentation, “Dirt Angel,” by Jeanne Wilmot (618-28), and “The Twenty-Seventh Man,” by Nathan Englander (248-60). 
For Thursday, February 23:  Finish The Handmaid’s Tale and answer the question in Blackboard by 7pm Wednesday. 
For Tuesday, February 28:  No new assignment. 
For Thursday, March 1:  For Group 2’s presentation, read "The Immortals" by Martin Amis (25) and "Night Women" by Edwidge Danticat (196).  And read “Dharma” (163-178), by Vikram Chandra. 
For Tuesday, March 6:  Read the description of essay 1 posted in Blackboard, and bring in two copies of your introductory paragraph.  We’ll discuss “The Night in Question” and “Dharma,” so review those stories and be sure to bring your book to class.

For Thursday, March 8:  Read “The Management of Grief,” by Bharati Mukherjee (435-47). 
For Tuesday, March 13:  Bring two copies of the polished draft of your first essay to class.  Begin reading Miss Garnet’s Angel.  (We may begin discussing it Tuesday.)
For Thursday, March 15:  Be sure to have read through page 180 of Miss Garnet’s Angel.  Read Abdulrazak Gurnah’s “Escort” (298-306) and Ben Okri’s “In the Shadow of War” (477-480) for Group 3’s presentation.  (I’ll assign the Blackboard Discussion Board question for next week.) Your first essay is due – please send me an electronic copy (straight to my email – ruppel@chapman.edu) and bring a hard copy to class. 

For Tuesday, March 20:  Finish Miss Garnet’s Angel and answer the Blackboard question by 7pm Monday (March 19). 
For Thursday, March 22:  Read Steven Millhauser’s “Behind the Blue Curtain,” 404-410, for Group 4’s presentation.  And be sure to bring both the anthology and Miss Garnet’s Angel to class. 
For Tuesday, March 27:  Read Amos Oz’s “Where the Jackals Howl,” 481-493.  Answer the questions in Blackboard about the story.
For Thursday, March 29:  Read “The Lifeguard” (424-431) by Mary Morris and “The First Day” (349-352) by Edward Jones for Group 5’s presentation.  And remember to bring both the anthology and Miss Garnet to class. 
For Tuesday, April 10:  Read Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills.  And answer the Blackboard question by 7pm Monday, April 9.  Review “The Lifeguard” (424-431) by Mary Morris and “The First Day” (349-352) by Edward Jones for Group 5’s presentation.
For Thursday, April 12:  Read Joyce Carol Oates’ “Mark of Satan” for Group 6’s presentation. 
For Tuesday, April 17: No new assignment.  Bring ideas for your second paper (or project) to class along with the anthology and A Pale View of Hills. 
For Thursday, April 19: Read Ishiguro’s “A Family Supper” (338-345) and Haruki Murakami’s “The Elephant Vanishes” (453-465) for Group 7’s presentation. 
For Tuesday, April 24:  By 7pm Monday, April 23, respond to the Blackboard Discussion question about one story you’d l”ike to read this semester. 
For Thursday, April 26: Read Margaret Atwood’s “Wilderness Tips” (42-57).  Bring the first paragraph of your second paper.  If you’re doing an alternative project, bring a one-paragraph description of the project. 
For Tuesday, May 1:  Read Angela Carter’s “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon” (137-145) and Hanif Kureishi’s “Intimacy” (361-372). 
For Thursday, May 3:  No new reading assignment.  Bring a hard copy of your second essay to class, and send an electronic copy to me (ruppel@chapman.edu). 
For Tuesday, May 8:  Read Banana Yoshimoto’s “Helix” (650-655) and Colum McCann’s “Everything in this Country Must” (387-392). 
For Thursday, May 10:  No new reading assignment.  All papers, projects, and revisions are due by Friday, May 11.

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