Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Leroy F Searle
C LIT 250
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Comparative Literature: Literature and Culture

Study of literature in its relation to culture. Focuses on literature as a cultural institution, directly related to the construction of individual identity and the dissemination and critique of values.

Class description

Comp Lit 250 / English 242 Literature and Culture Professor Leroy Searle TAs: Treza Rosado: section AA/GA MGH 271 2:30 W section AB/GB JHN 026 3:30 W Darius Klein: section AC/GC MGH 251 2:30 W section AD/GD CMU 228 3:30 W

course website:

The agenda for this course is to read four major narratives (one dramatic and three prose fiction texts, available at U Bookstore), together with carefully selected poems, essays, and shorter fiction—available on line and in a course reader you can purchase at Professional Copy and Print. The reading is the main work, and writing about what you read will constitute most of the assignments. You will not be asked to write conventional academic papers, but to use writing as the chief reflective tool for understanding more thoroughly what you read. The major assignments will be based on writing commentary on specific passages or problems from King Lear, Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Letter, and Anna Karenina. These texts are major in every way, and the organization of the course is set up to assist you in following and developing ideas directly derived from the reading. At your choice, you may take the final (option) to replace one writing assignment. The design of this class begins from the premise that major texts are not merely stories, but sustained and extraordinary examples of thinking, not as an abstract enterprise, but in and through the exact details of the narratives, the characters, and the implications of the precise writing that created the texts. They need to be taught & studied, discussed and connected to multiple contexts. We will start with a few poems by William Blake that introduce concepts and terms that will be employed throughout the quarter. The texts selected are distinctive in foregrounding the intimate link between formal literary writing and culture touching upon issues of children and parents, of desire and disappointment, of development and catastrophe that are not alien or distant from the experience of any human being. The discussion sections, all meeting on Wednesdays, are intended not merely to follow the lectures on Tuesday and Thursday, but to provide an opportunity for you to talk about the reading, and to learn how to do it cooperatively. So too, the writing assignments will be very specific, just as they will be sequentially ordered to facilitate the development of your thinking and writing. In addition to the four major assignments, there will be a number of simple one page exercises, designed to help you with the longer assignments. There will also be a MID TERM PARTY at my house, where you will be properly fed, and otherwise induced to talk to each other. The assigned texts are not easy, but they are profoundly coherent and revealing. We do not expect that all of you will be equally comfortable with reading, for many reasons, and we will do our best to help you in accordance with what you need. Everything we will read is in English, and for those of you who may not be comforted by that fact, the pace will be such that you will not sink—so ask for help if you need it. New this year is a project to develop, for this course, a common core glossary, detailing a selection of major and specific concepts that will figure in the course all quarter. The glossary will be developed in a multi-lingual format, with translation to Chinese, Spanish, and other languages represented among the members of the class. This is an experiment, and will take cooperation. We will discuss this in detail in class. All of the texts (except Anna Karenina) are available digitally on the course website, in PDF format. The library has secured an on-line version of Anna Karenina in the translation we are using. You should be able to download them to portable devices or your computer, if you wish, or consult them on-line. That will not replace the need for the printed texts. Bring the text for the day to class: serious grief if you do not. -->A few simple rules will be in force. Come to class. Recordings of all lectures with visuals will be posted on line, but mark well, they do not and will not replace attendance in class. Follow instructions on assignments as if your life depended on it (it does). After today, all communication, both ways, will be electronic. No hard copy written assignments will be accepted, and electronic submissions must follow instructions exactly. Each assignment will come with a detail description of topics and procedures. -->Grading: Short exercises & Written Assignments 75%; weekly quizzes 10%; participation 15% TEXTS: in the University Bookstore, William Shakespeare: King Lear, Dover Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre, Dover Nathaniel Hawthorne: Scarlet Letter, Norton Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina, Penguin Classics THESE EDITIONS ONLY, NO EXCEPTIONS

READER at Professional Copy and Print, 42nd & Univ. Way William Blake: poems from Songs of Innocence & of Experience William Blake:Book of Thel & Visions of the Daughters of Albion Ezra Pound, “How to Read“ Charles S Peirce, “A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God"? Poems & stories by Stevens, Yeats, Rilke, Hawthorne, Tamer.

The course has no prerequisites, and carries both VLPA distribution credit and "W" course credit. The selected texts will be read in English.

Student learning goals

The most important goal will be learning to read accurately and exactly, and to develop sound and interesting arguments about what you read.

Considerable attention will be devoted to understanding the strategies of the texts assigned, to see exactly why they are constructed as they are, and to follow complicated developmental patterns intelligently. As noted below, this course, while demanding, will include extra assistance for students whose first language is not English.

The historical range of the material, from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century, will foreground sustained patterns of reflection on fundamental human experiences--and the particular sequence of the texts will trace the development of significant ways of thinking about individual and cultural experience that are still pertinent.

Writing will be important in this course, but the assignments are designed to provide help where students may need it. Writing assignments are sequential, and structured to leave many options for writing. There will be additional help for non-native speakers of English. This year, we will be developing a "common core glossary" of essential concepts used in the class, in multilingual editions. Students fluent in other languages will be invited to assist in developing translations into Chinese, Spanish, and other languages. This is obviously experimental, but for all students, there will be a conceptual guide to the course that should help considerably in following arguments and discussions that will continue over the entire quarter.

General method of instruction

This is a lecture course, with required discussion sections. In the lectures (two days a week, for two hours), questions will be welcome and will be answered, though for each class meeting, there will be an agenda of issues to be covered. Attendance is necessary, but the lectures will be recorded and put on line after class, together with any Powerpoint slides and other documents on the course website.

Recommended preparation

There are no prerequisites for this course. Typical enrollment in the course is very diverse, and we will try to provide pertinent help with reading the assigned texts.

Class assignments and grading

There will be FOUR major writing assignments (typically 3-5 pages), the first three of which can be revised. An optional final exam can be substituted for any of the four major writing assignments. There will be in addition a number of very brief written exercises, designed to lead into the major assignments. The course will carry W credit.

In addition, there will be a short weekly quiz on assigned reading. These are short (taking only about 5 minutes), on details from the reading material for the week.

Required written assignments: 75%; (includes using the final in place of 1 writing assignment) Participation (incl. attendance): 15% Weekly quizzes: 10%

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Leroy F Searle
Date: 09/23/2012