Psychological Fiction ~ ENGL 3321 – Revised for summer 2012 (LAU 207)
Dr. Jonathan Alexander
609-894-9311 x1123
E-mail: jalexand@bcc.edu (please use my BCC e-mail address)
http://staff.bcc.edu/faculty_websites/jalexand/3321syl.htm

Texts
Available in the Mt. Laurel Bookstore:
-- The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee Williams (1945)
(E-text: http://staff.bcc.edu/faculty_websites/jalexand/Williams--The_Glass_Menagerie.htm)
-- Oleanna by David Mamet (1992)
(E-text: http://staff.bcc.edu/faculty_websites/jalexand/Mamet--Oleanna.htm)

Available online via this syllabus:
-- Edgar Allen Poe, “William Wilson” (1839)
-- Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1853)
-- Anton Chekhov, “The Lady with the Dog” (1899)

Available via handouts:
-- Primo Levi Selected Poems

COURSE EXPECTATIONS

Attendance: If the student is to profit from any course, he or she must attend class on a consistent basis.

·         Students must attend all classes for the full duration of each session. Should you need to miss a class for observance of religious holidays, jury duty, military duty, bereavement, or illness, you must notify the instructor by telephone or e-mail either prior to or within 24 hours after the class. Without such communication, students forfeit the right to make up missed work. If such communication is made, students will be permitted to make up missed work at the beginning of the following class meeting.

·         Entering class late or leaving class early (without prior authorization) is considered disrespectful and will not be tolerated.

Academic Etiquette: Students will respect themselves, their peers and their instructors by considering the following:

·         Cell phones must be kept on silent. No calls are to be made or received during class. If you are expecting an important call during the class meeting time, notify me prior to class and quietly excuse yourself if the call is received. No text-messaging or game-playing will be tolerated.

·         Students who wish to use the restrooms may do so by quietly leaving and re-entering the room. If a student believes he or she will require an absence of more than a few minutes, it is his responsibility to notify me accordingly.

Communication: Many means of communication are available to the student including telephone, e-mail and mailbox.

·         If you leave a message on my office voice-mail, please remember to speak clearly and provide your name, course information, and phone number if you request a return call.

·         If you contact me via e-mail, always include your full name and class information in the subject line. Too often students forget to sign e-mail or have e-mail addresses without obvious identifiers. If you do not include your name in the subject line, I will not open the message.

·         Students who send me e-mail and do not receive a reply of any kind within 48 hours should assume it was never received. Such e-mails should be resent. I do not mind receiving redundant messages if you are unsure whether your message was transmitted (though I may only reply to the first). If your message doesn’t present itself as urgent, I may reply quickly and briefly and ask to get back to you before long.

·         Students who send e-mails containing attachments must save these documents with one of the following extensions: DOC, DOCX, TXT, RTF, or WPS. Please convert all MAC files to DOC or TXT.

Class Assignments:

·         All work written and submitted should utilize standard rules of grammar, sentence organization, paragraph organization, and diction.

·         All formal papers are to be typed, double spaced, stapled, and carefully proofread.

·         All assignments are due on the date specified on the syllabus without exception. Assignments which are not submitted during the class session they are due will be penalized 15% for each subsequent day they are late.

·         When a student is absent the day an assignment is due, he or she must submit the assignment as an attachment via e-mail on or before the date it is due.

·         Since students are provided with all assignments and deadlines on the first day of the semester, excuses such as “crashed computers,” “misplaced data,” “misplaced disks,” or “empty printer ink cartridges” will not be accepted. All computer work should be saved twice (hard drive and floppy/flash).

·         Plagiarism will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Be aware that plagiarism includes (but is not limited to) copying someone else’s words without crediting the source; paraphrasing someone else’s words without crediting the source; using someone else’s ideas without crediting the source (even if rephrased in your own words); using facts not universally known which are obtained from a source without crediting the source; asking someone else to write your paper, either in whole or in part; or obtaining a paper or portion thereof by any means and submitting it as an original document. The penalty for plagiarism is failure of the assignment and potentially failure of the course (at the instructor’s discretion), and it may result in suspension or expulsion from the University. Please refer to FDU’s Academic Integrity Policy for more information: http://fduinfo.com/studentlife/handbook/?c=caf&n=05&html=fduacademicintegrity.htm

ASSIGNMENTS

Pt. Value

Due date

In-class Contribution

20

Various

E-mailed Responses

20

Various

The Hours Analysis

25

Th, June7

Primo Levi Analysis

25

Th, June 21

Jeopardy

10

T, June 26

 


 


Grades will be based on the following equivalents:

Points Earned

Final Grade

Points Earned

Final Grade

92-100

A

81-82

B-

89-91

A-

79-80

C+

87-88

B+

75-78

C

83-86

B

70-74

D

 

DAILY CLASS SCHEDULE

T, May 22

Assignment and Presentation Procedures

Background of Psychoanalysis (outline at end of syllabus)

 

 

 

 

 

Th, May 24

Film—The Hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

E-mailed Responses before Tuesday May 29th (The Hours)

 

 

 

Answer four of the following six questions in at least 100 words each.

1.  Which of the three female protagonists (Virginia Woolf, Laura Brown, or Clarissa Vaughn) do you think sees herself most differently from how she is seen by outsiders? Explain.

 

2.  Which of the three female protagonists seemed to be living most for someone else rather than for herself?

 

3.  Which of the three supporting characters (Leonard Woolf, Dan Brown, or Sally Lester) do you think knew the most about his or her significant other? Which knew the least? Explain.

 

4.  How do the three “kissing” episodes tie the protagonists’ stories together? What is similar about their kissing? What is different?

 

5.  We know that it is not the protagonist Clarissa (Streep) who “dies” in Woolf’s novel; instead, it is Richard. Why did it prove significant to Woolf that the “poet/visionary” should die rather than her protagonist?

 

6.  After convincing her husband that she needed to return to London for her own well being, why did Virginia still decided to take her life? What similarities or differences are there among this suicide, Richard’s suicide, and Laura Brown leaving her husband and children rather than committing suicide?

 

 

 

 

 

Th, May 31st

Edgar Allen Poe, “William Wilson” (1839)
Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1853)
Anton Chekhov, “The Lady with the Dog”  (1899)

 

 

 

 

 

 

E-mailed Responses before Tuesday June 5th (Poe, Melville, Chekhov)

 

 

 

Answer two of the following three questions in at least 250 words each.

 

1. If Bartleby can be seen not as a separate character but as a metaphoric extension of the lawyer/narrator, analyze Bartleby’s behaviors and explain how they may allow us to understand better the lawyer’s true self. What repressed fears or desires has the lawyer inadvertently unleashed through his dealings with Bartleby? How do you explain his difficulty in terminating Bartleby? Why does he hire (and tolerate) the type of people in the office?

 

2. How can Freud’s topographical model of the id, ego and superego be applied to the “two” William Wilsons? Based on how the narrator feels about the “other,” what does this say about himself? How might the apparently absurd choices and assumptions made by William Wilson seem rather familiar to us in our daily lives? What might we (un)fortunately see of ourselves in this character?

 

3. What shared qualities or traits brought Anna and Dmitri together? What did each of them wish for, both consciously and unconsciously? What did each struggle with? Do you perceive that Anna and Dmitri did or did not have sexual relations? Justify what is to be learned from their experiences based on your perception. How do you interpret the meaning of the characters’ “intolerable bondage?”

 

 

 

 

Th, June 7

Primo Levi Selected Poems

 

 

 

5,  10,  16,  27,  34,  47, 56,  57,  59,  60,  62,  64,  98

The Hours Analysis Due

 

 

 

 

 

E-mailed Responses before Tuesday June 12th (Levi)

 

 

 

Answer the following question in at least 250 words.

 

In her text On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages that an individual experiences when informed of a terminal prognosis. The stages Kubler-Ross identified are as follows: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Since many people believe that these stages of grief can also be  experienced by people when they have lost a loved one, we will apply this concept to Primo Levi, who may be experiencing the loss of himself.

 

Select four of the five stages listed above. You will then identify four different poems by Primo Levi which you believe most effectively illustrate each of the concepts of the particular “grief-stage” selected (one poem per stage). For this assignment, we will ignore the chronological order of these stages—that is, the poems may represent stages out of order. You can therefore pick any four stages and any poem to satisfy each stage no matter when the poem was written. (For example, it is acceptable to argue that a poem written in 1980 illustrates “denial”—an earlier stage—while a poem written in 1946 illustrates “depression”—a later stage.) Each poem selected must be analyzed and interpreted, making at least one textual reference to illustrate your argumentative point.

 

 

 

 

 

Th, June 14

Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

 

 

 

 

E-mailed Responses before Tuesday June 19th (Williams)

 

 

Answer two of the following four questions in at least 250 words each.

1.  Tom clearly struggles between his obligation to his family and his desire to be independent. How does this internal conflict manifest itself in his relationships with his mother and sister? What do the movies mean to him that would cause him to spend so much time there? How is longing to sail the seas as a Merchant Marine indicative of his true spiritual calling ? How can the fire escape symbolically represent everything Tom wants as well as everything he fears?

 

2.  Considering that this is a memory play and everything you receive is supposedly through Tom’s preconscious, how does this influence your understand of the characters and their actions? What do you believe Tom considers most important and therefore most worthy of recall? What do you imagine he is repressing?  How do the items displayed through the “screens” and “legends” of the stage directions relate to Tom’s unconscious mind and the disguises it creates to protect the ego from harm?

 

3.  The unicorn of the menagerie is apparently the only “animal” not of this world. While still in “perfect” condition (that is, unbroken), what does it tell you about Laura, what she thinks is important, and how she approaches life? Once it is broken, continuing to serve as a metaphor for Laura, how is she now defined by this broken unicorn?  Finally, when she gives the broken unicorn to Jim, what statement is she making about herself? About her perceived relationship with him? About her future?

 

4.  How does Amanda’s obvious desperation influence her two children? How is she ultimately affected by an ex-husband who is only referenced by a photograph and a postcard? What illusions does Amanda suffer from? Does she have a grasp on anything real? Do you believe her true intentions are to do what is best for her family, or does she consistently seem more self-absorbed in all that happens? Explain.

 

 

 

Th, June 21

David Mamet, Oleanna

 

 

Primo Levi Analysis Due

 

 

 

 

 

T, June 26

JEOPARDY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E-mailed Responses before Thursday June 28th (Mamet)

 

 

 

Answer the following questions in 750 words.

 

In Oleanna, short choppy sentences are carried on in fits and starts. Rarely is a sentence or even a thought completed. What effect does this have on the meaning of the play and your understanding of each character? Cite at least two moments of poignant dialogue which you believe illustrate the essence of the “relationship” between the characters.

 


Notes for Psychoanalytic Theory

 

Clinical Origins of Psychoanalysis

 

The unconscious mind

 

 

Repression

 

 

How the unconscious reveals itself

 

 

 

Meta-psychology

 

 

The dynamic model

 

 

The economic model (“displacement” and “condensation”)

 

 

The topographical model (conscious, preconscious, and the unconscious)

 

 

The id, the ego, and the superego

 

 


Psychosexuality

 

 

libido

 

 

pleasure principle.”

 

 

Three stages of psychosexual development: The oral stage, the anal stage, and the phallic stage

 

 

 

Psychoanalytic Process

 

Central crisis in human development

 

 

“Transference”

 

 

“Free-associations”

 

 

 


Psychoanalytical literary criticism

Biographical tendency

 

 

compromise formations”

 

 

manifest content

 

 

latent meaning

 

Archetypal Criticism: Carl Jung

 

collective unconscious”

 

 

archetypes

 

 

 

Structural Psychoanalysis: Jacques Lacan

Text as a linguistic structure

 

 

Three “orders” in human experience: the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real.

 

 

mirror stage”


Primo Levi Response Exercise                                  Name______________________________________________

 

“Buna” (5): How is the monotony and regularity of time illustrated in the poem?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Reveille” (10): Describe the shift that occurs between the stanzas and how this shift is affected by the passage of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 February 1946” (16): What does this poem say about life, mortality, and the relationship between man and God?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In The Beginning” (27): How does this poem ironically blend the seemingly contradictory elements of Biblical creationism and scientific evolution?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Girl-Child of Pompei” (34): Comment on the three historically-significant “girls” used as metaphoric victims (Pompei, the Holocaust, and Hiroshima) and state how each contributes something to the discussion of the value of life.

 

 

 

 

 

“Unfinished Business” (47): Considering that this resignation letter appears to double as a suicide note, break down the major “job” references and explain how they correlate to “life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Work” (56): What roles do order and harmony play for this writer, and what does the poem suggest about the process of revision and completion of a written work?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A Mouse” (57): Comment on how the mouse may represent the speaker’s conscience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Agave” (59): What seems to be the plant’s sole life ambition, and how might this correlate to Levi?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Pearl Oyster” (60): How does the oyster deal with its difficulties, and how does this relate to Levi’s “survival”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A Profession” (62): Comment on the speaker’s approach to the task of writing, identifying his priority, his obstacles, his triumphs and failures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Survivor” (64): What does the epigram (from Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”) have to do with this or earlier poems by Levi, and why might it be considered a fitting inscription for his entire body of work?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Almanac” (98): How does this scientist ultimately seem to feel about the order of the universe and its events, and about humanity and its chances for peace?


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1st half subtotal à

 

 

2nd half subtotal à

 

                                                                                                                                     TOTAL_______

FINAL ANSWER: ____________________________________

    FINAL WAGER + / - _______

____________________________________________________

                     GRAND TOTAL _______