Love, Betrayal, and Obsession: Narratives of Relationships Gone Wrong

(English 132 Section 5: Man and Woman in Literature Fall 2004)

Instructor: Bridget Marshall                         E-mail:

Class Meetings: Mondays and Wednesdays 4:00 pm in Bartlett ???

Office Location: Bartlett 457                       Office Hours:  M & W 1:15 - 2:30 & by appointment

Office Phone: 545-5512                               Mailbox: Bartlett 1st floor hallway

In our course we will consider the very broad theme of "Man and Woman in Literature" though the lens of how men and women relate in relationships and how they relate those relationships to others.  Our stories range from the 19th century to the present, and all were originally written in English.  In selecting these stories, novels, and poems, I found that most of them were about troubled or troubling relationships; we'll talk too about why literature is so full of such relationships.  We will be reading fictions by both men and women, questioning how they perceive their relationships, and how they present them to the reader.  What can we learn about the nature of men and women through these stories?  What can we learn about the nature of male and female authors through these stories?  What might we learn about ourselves and the men and women in our lives?

There are many things that I hope to accomplish in this class.  Foremost among them are the following:

As you might guess, the above are all inter-related.  Part of enjoying what you read means reading it closely to appreciate its details and nuances.  Reading closely is necessary in order to think about, talk about, and write about texts.  And ideally, your thinking, talking, and writing will all improve with practice and by working with your classmates. 


Course books are available at Amherst Books (8 Main Street, 256-1547).  I have tried to keep the student budget in mind by ordering less expensive editions of all texts.  Feel free to use editions other than those listed (used, borrowed, from the library, etc.) so long as you can read the assignments for the days they are due.  You will also need to own (or share) a copy of the course packet, which is available at Copy Cat Print Shop (35 East Pleasant Street, 549-2854).

Class Requirements: 

Attendance is required.  We need you here to help with class discussion and group work.  You have two "Freebies," no questions asked.  This is the equivalent of one week of class.  For every class beyond those two that you miss, your final grade for the class will be lowered half a grade.

If you miss class, you should send your assignment to class with a peer or leave it in my mailbox on the first floor of Bartlett.  DO NOT leave papers under my office door, where they are likely to be lost.  When you return to class, you are responsible for having the assignment due on that day, as well as any work you missed on previous days.  Consult the syllabus, contact a friend in the class, or send me an e-mail in order to find out what will be due on the day you return to class.  If you know in advance that you are going to miss class, I highly recommend that you let me know this so that you can keep up with the work.

Good classroom citizenship is required.  This includes participating in the discussion by sharing your thoughts and actively listening to the thoughts and comments of your peers.  Please be considerate of your classmates and make the classroom a space where everyone can speak their mind.  We will have both full-class discussions and small group work.  If you are not particularly comfortable speaking in the full-class discussion, be sure you are making up for it in the smaller group discussions.  Also, as a courtesy to everyone in the room, please turn off your cell phone before class begins.

You will be required to share your writing and respond to the writing of your peers.  On days when response papers are due, we will divide the class into small groups for the purpose of sharing (and ideally, improving) our writing.  We do this to stress the point that you are not just writing for a teacher or for a grade; we are writing for a community of writers.  Become comfortable with sharing your writing; this is a necessary step in improving your writing and becoming part of the academic community.  We will also do peer review on the final papers.

Writing Assignments

There will be frequent short in-class and take-home writing assignments.  I will often start the class with a short (five- to ten-minute) writing assignment, which we will use to start discussion, and which I will collect at some point during the class.  I will read and respond to your comments, and you will receive a "check" in my grade book for your writing.  In some cases, I may ask you to come to class with the writing already done so that we can get our discussion started right away.  I will announce this at the class before I expect the writing to be done, and will explain any requirements (length, etc.) at that time.  Please keep all of these short writing assignments, as they may help you to develop longer writing assignments, and they will also include my responses to your thoughts, ideas, and writing.

There are two Response Papers due during the semester.  These should be focused writings of about 3 pages, illustrating your knowledge of and interest in a particular text that we have read in the class so far.  You MUST have a paper in class on the day it is due.  As mentioned above, we will share our papers in small groups during class as a start to the day's class discussion.  I will respond to the papers with detailed comments on both content and form, so that you will get an idea of what I am expecting for the final paper. 

There is one Group Presentation during the semester.  Groups will be responsible for leading discussion on the chosen text on the class period assigned.  There can be no "make-up" for this assignment.  It is equivalent to one response paper grade.

There is a final paper, 6 to 8 pages in length.  The topic is open, though you must focus on a text we have read in the course.  I will ask that you have a topic approved by me by the last week of the semester.  We will have peer response sessions during the last week of class to help you develop your ideas.  There is no final exam.

Evaluation and Grading

Grading is my least favorite aspect of the course; however, grades are necessary, not only to the University, but also in many cases in order to motivate students.  I will give a grade or a number for the two short papers and the group presentations, and "checks" for each day's attendance and for your short writing assignments.  Particularly active class participation or strong short writing assignments will earn a "check plus."  Following is a breakdown of final grades:

If you have a concern about a grade or a question about your standing in the class, I am quite happy to talk with you.  This type of conversation is best suited to an individual conference.  You can see me during my office hours, or schedule an appointment at another time.

A final word on the unpleasant part of grades, specifically the bad ones:  I hope that all my students will strive to do their best work in this course, but if you are determined to do only the minimal amount of work and get the minimum passing grade, you might want to know what the bottom line is.  This much is nonnegotiable: you are not eligible for a passing grade of D unless you have attended at least 11 of 14 weeks worth of classes, and completed 90% of the assignments. 

Semester Schedule

Below you will find a schedule for the semester's reading and writing assignments.  If you miss a class, you are still responsible for what was due on the day(s) you missed and on the day you return, so ALWAYS consult the syllabus (or a classmate, or me) if you have missed or will miss a class.

Wednesday 8 September


"The Story of an Hour" Kate Chopin (handout)

Monday 13 September

Kate Chopin: The Awakening to the end of chapter 14

Wednesday 15 September

Kate Chopin: The Awakening to the end of chapter 25

Monday 20 September

Kate Chopin: The Awakening to the end

Wednesday 22 September

Margaret Atwood: "Hairball" and "Weight"

Monday 27 September

Zora Neal Hurston: "Spunk" and "Sweat

Wednesday 29 September

Alice Munro: "Tell Me Yes or No"

Monday 4 October

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: "The Yellow Wallpaper"

Wednesday 6 October

First Response Paper Due

Monday 11 October


Wednesday 13 October

Henry James: Daisy Miller (book) pp. 1 - 39

Monday 18 October

Henry James: Daisy Miller (book) pp. 40 - 83 (end)

Wednesday 20 October

Abraham Cahan: "A Sweatshop Romance"

Monday 25 October

William Faulkner: "A Rose for Emily"

Wednesday 27 October

Edgar Allan Poe:  "The Black Cat," "The Raven," and "To Helen"

Monday 1 November

Sarah Helen Whitman: Selected poems in packet

Elizabeth Oakes-Smith: Selected poems in packet

Wednesday 3 November

Emily Dickinson: Selected poems in packet

Monday 8 November

Second Response Paper Due

Wednesday 10 November

Robert Browning: "My Last Duchess"

Monday 15 November

Charles Chesnutt: "The Sheriff's Children"

Wednesday 17 November

James Baldwin: "Sonny's Blues"

Monday 22 November

NO CLASS (University Thursday Schedule)

Wednesday 24 November

Class cancelled to enable holiday travel; complete alternate assignment (online discussion contribution) before next class meeting

Monday 29 November

Joyce Carol Oates: "Love and Death"

Wednesday 1 December

Jhumpa Lahiri: "A Temporary Matter"

Monday 6 December

Tim O'Brien: "The Things They Carried"

Wednesday 8 December

Sandra Cisneros: "The House on Mango Street," "What Sally Said," "Linoleum Roses," "A House of My Own," "Only Daughter"

Monday 13 December

Last Day of Class: In-class peer review of final paper drafts

Thursday December 16

Final Papers due by NOON

About Academic Honesty

All University policies on plagiarism apply to all writing assignments in this course.  This means that if you plagiarize an assignment, you will receive an "F" for the course, and you are subject to other discipline (including expulsion from the University) at the discretion of the instructor and the University.

Unintentional plagiarism is still plagiarism.  You must cite all sources that you use, including online sources.  Also, remember that "using" a source includes DIRECTLY QUOTING, PARAPHRASING, AND USING IDEAS from any source.  There is nothing wrong with "getting help" from other writers, just be sure to acknowledge it by using quotation marks or author/page citation appropriately.  Please take the time to give proper credit to the work of other authors.  It is a matter of respect - for yourself, for other authors, for your classmates, and for me.

I know that it is easy to find information and indeed whole papers on the internet.  You should know that it is also easy for me to find these sources.  If I suspect you've done this, I will take the time to find the source, and there is every likelihood you will be caught.  Please don't waste your time or mine by plagiarizing a paper.  If you're having difficulty with a writing assignment, please talk to me before the day it is due.