Fall 2009 Syllabus

Murphy Hall 106; 9:30-10:50 T, Th

Professor: Dr. Roberts
Office: Eder Hall 222G
Phone: 816-271-5810
E-mail: robertsi@missouriwestern.edu
Office Hours: 11:00-12:30 TR, 2:00-3:00 TW

Course Description and Objectives

This course covers literature responding to an age of scientific discovery and the creation of the modern world. We'll see how artists responded to the Civil War, urbanization, scientific materialism, and the rise of a consumer culture. Prerequisites: ENG 108 or 112 and ENG 210 or 220. LAS International/Intercultural.

"Our civilization is still in a middle stage, scarcely beast, in that it is no longer wholly guided by instinct; scarcely human, in that it is not yet wholly guided by reason." Theodore Dreiser

Meaningful education relates directly to one's personal beliefs and values. If education does not challenge one's outlook and lead to conscious examination of its bases, consistency, justification, and consequences, then it is little more than window dressing or superficial job training. Our discussions may cause discomfort to anyone without previous exposure to significantly different points of view or who is unaccustomed to serious reflection about subjects with profound social, political, ethical, and metaphysical implications. However, through reading, writing, research, reflection, and open-minded debate, you can expect to grow in self-knowledge and the knowledge of others. Such growth is the true goal of education, and it is essential to your development as a mature student, citizen, and human being.

In all of its programs, the department encourages its students to grow in self-knowledge and the knowledge of others through its emphasis on the humane and liberal characteristics of its offerings.

Required Materials

  • Bayme, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature: 1865-1914. (Vol. C) 6th ed. New York: Norton, 2003.
  • Christ, Carol T., ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Victorian Age. (Vol. 2B) 7th ed. New York: Norton, 2000.
  • Bierce, Ambrose. Civil War Stories. New York: Dover, 1994.
  • Chopin, Kate. A Pair of Silk Stockings and Other Stories. New York: Dover, 1996.
  • Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Dover, 1990.
  • Doyle, Arthur Conan. Six Great Sherlock Holmes Stories. New York: Dover, 1992.
  • Hardy, Thomas. Hardy's Selected Poems. New York: Dover, 1995.
  • London, Jack. Five Great Short Stories. New York: Dover, 1992.
  • Wells, H. G. The Island of Dr. Moreau. 1896 ed. New York: Dover, 1996.
  • Access to numerous electronic texts online and in WebCT
  • An up-to-date unabridged college dictionary
  • A college handbook (guide to style, grammar and usage)
  • At least two computer disks
  • Stamina and good humor

Recommended Books

  • Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003.
  • Holman, C. Hugh and William Harmon. A Handbook to Literature. 11th ed. New Jersey: Pearson, 2009.

Instructor's Attendance Policy

Regular attendance is an essential part of the student's educational experience and a requirement for an adequate evaluation of student academic progress. For this and other reasons, attendance is mandatory. If you have more than two unexcused absences during the semester, your final grade may be seriously affected. Excessive absences will result in failure of the course.

Chronic lateness and/or leaving early will count toward absences. Excused absences involve acting as an official representative of the university after prior notification from the faculty/staff supervisor of the event. At the instructor's discretion, an absence will be excused in the case of a documented and unforeseen emergency. All other absences will be deemed unexcused.

"Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors." T. H. Huxley

You are responsible for material covered or assignments given during your absence, so ask another student to inform you of what happened while you were gone. Note that not all in-class activities and assignments can fairly and adequately be "made up," even in the case of an excused absence. For example, unless you have a time machine, you cannot go back and participate in carefully scheduled and directed classroom discussions or group activities after the fact. Moreover, such context dependent and interpersonal participation is central to the course.

If I should be unable to meet class, you will be notified by the secretary, a fellow instructor, or by an officially stamped and dated note on the classroom door.

Policy on Late Work

All out of class assignments are due at the beginning of the hour on the due date. Learning is a cumulative process, and each assignment is designed to build on the previous one. As late work disrupts this important aspect of the learning process, late work will not be accepted without prior notification and approval. When reasonably possible, however, missed assignments will be accepted after the due date in the case of an excused absence (see above).

Preparation and Participation

You are required to make significant contributions to class in the form of preparation and participation. Preparation includes completing the readings and daily assignments, as well as bringing your assignments, textbook, and other materials with you on the appropriate days. If you come unprepared, you will receive a zero for any work due that day.

Participation includes the help you give to fellow writers and the contributions you make to class discussion. Active and insightful contributions to class discussion are therefore not "extra credit." Like the written assignments, your tactful and substantive comments are part of the minimal requirements for successful completion of the course. If you are a naturally quiet person, force yourself to be more vocal; do not assume that if I do not call on you that you need not participate, as it is your responsibility to voice your observations at appropriate and relevant times. Conversely, if you are a naturally talkative person, you may have to restrain yourself so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

Why is discussion such a large part of your grade? Because live classroom discussion:

  • allows me to better determine how to regulate time and assignments for your greatest benefit.
  • gives me an additional indication of how closely and thoughtfully you have read, enabling me to evaluate your knowledge and abilities more fairly and accurately.
  • helps you think in terms of the subject matter by giving you practice in thinking.
  • helps you learn to evaluate the logic of and evidence for your own and others' positions.
  • helps you learn what counts as evidence and how to evaluate knowledge claims.
  • helps you understand how knowledge is arrived at in the discipline.
  • gives you practice arguing with others respectfully and professionally.
  • gives you opportunities to formulate applications of principles.
  • helps you become aware of and formulate problems using information from lectures and readings.
  • helps you construct knowledge you can recall and apply when needed.
  • gives you prompt feedback on difficult or confusing issues and material.
  • increases your retention of material through explaining, summarizing, and questioning.
  • stimulates new ideas, approaches, questions, reading and research.

Student Conduct

As a condition to remaining at MWSU, the college expects all students to conduct themselves so as to maintain an effective environment for learning, to act responsibly in accordance with good taste, and to respect fully the rights of others. Behavior that disrupts the classroom environment or interferes with other students' learning will result in dismissal from the classroom. Passionate and forceful language is sometimes appropriate. Intolerance, intimidation, and dogmatism are not.

Assignment Requirements

All out of class written assignments for this course must be word processed unless otherwise specified. Non-word processed submissions will be returned with no credit. Assignments should follow MLA format, using no larger than twelve point type and one inch margins. Pages should be stapled together before you come to class (do not use folders or paper clips and do not fold down the corners of papers). Do not throw away any work you do for this class, from notes to drafts to final papers, and keep back-up copies of all papers you turn in.


All the guidelines and standards for classes at MWSU are similar to those used by other colleges and universities throughout the country. You, as a serious student, will appreciate the fact that we hold high standards for your work. Your grade will be determined by the quality of your daily work, short writings, and exams, as well as by your preparation and participation. Assignments will be evaluated according to how well they meet the requirements and the following general scale.

A = Superior
B = Above Average
C = Average
D = Minimum = passing below average
F = Failing

Short Writings and Daily Assignments = 25%
Mid-Term Exam = 25%
Final Exam = 25%
Critical Paper = 25%

Institutional Policy on Academic Honesty and Due Process

Academic honesty is required in all academic endeavors. Violations of academic honesty include any instance of plagiarism, cheating, seeking credit for another's work, falsifying documents or academic records, or any other fraudulent activity. Violations of academic honesty may result in a failing grade on the assignment, failure in the course, or expulsion from the University. When a student's grade has been affected, violations of academic honesty will be reported to the provost or designated representative on the Academic Honesty Violation Report forms. Please see the Student Handbook for specific activities identified as violations of this policy and the student due process procedure.


Any student who has a disability that prevents the fullest expression of abilities should contact me immediately so that we can discuss class requireents.


This syllabus is of a contractual nature, and by remaining in the course you acknowledge your acceptance of its stipulations in their entirety. If the goals, policies, procedures, standards, expectations, or obligations are unclear, then you should speak with me immediately. If they are clear but unacceptable to you, then you should drop the course.

If you choose to remain in the course, be sure to keep a copy of this syllabus with you and to refer to it regularly. Policies are enforced without exception to ensure uniformity and predictability, to avoid confusion and anxiety, and to facilitate fairness and objectivity for all students. In the interest of efficiency, however, I reserve the right to make necessary alterations to this syllabus and to make announced changes in daily plans. Any announcements made in class automatically supersede this syllabus. It is your responsibility to find out about announced changes.

Final Thoughts

For further explanations, comments, and advice, I am available during office hours. For additional help outside of class, I strongly recommend the Center for Academic Support.

I genuinely want you to succeed in this class and at MWSU generally. I therefore urge you to keep in mind that what you gain from this course, and your from your education generally, is proportional to the amount of productive time and careful attention you devote to it. In the words of Abigail Adams (1744-1818), "Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence."

Course Outline

This outline shows major readings and assignments, but additional readings and assignments will be given in class throughout the semester.

8/25 Syllabus; discuss Norton Introductions
8/27 Twain's "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (1865); Bret Harte's "The Luck of Roaring Camp" (1868)
9/1 Dickinson's poems (1858-84); Film: Voices and Visions
9/3 Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" (1881); Film: Voices and Visions
9/8 Bierce's "Chickamauga," "The Coup de Grâce" (1889), "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (1890), Film: "Parker Adderson, Philosopher" (1891)
9/10 Darwin's Ch. 3: "Struggle for Existence," "Recapitulation and Conclusion" from The Origin of Species by Means of Natural SelectionM (1859), Ch. 21: "Natural Selection and Sexual Selection" from The Descent of Man (1871)
9/15 Huxley's "Agnosticism Defined" (1889); Hardy's "The Impercipient" (1898), "The Problem" (1901), "God's Education" (1909), "A Plaint to Man," and "God's Funeral" (1914) (All on WebCT)
9/17 Huxley's "Science and Culture" (1880); Arnold's "Literature and Science" (1883/85)
9/22 Wells' The War of the Worlds (1898), p. 1-71 (Beginning through Bk. 1: Ch. 15), Film: H. G. Wells biography
9/24 Wells' The War of the Worlds, p. 71-145 (Bk. 1: Ch. 16 through end of novel); Film: A Voyage to the Moon (1902)
9/29 Twain's "The £1,000,000 Bank-Note" (1893, web), "Man's Place in the Animal World" (1896, WebCT) and "Was the World Made for Man?" (1903, WebCT), selection from film Mark Twain Tonight!
10/1 Convocation: No Class
10/6 Film: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Stevens 1886/Mamoulian 1932)
10/8 Midterm Exam
10/13 London's "The White Silence" (1899), "In a Far Country" (1899), "The Law of Life" (1901), "Love of Life" (1905, web)
10/15 Chesnutt's "The Goophered Grapevine" (1887), "The Wife of His Youth" (1899)
10/20 Jewett's "A White Heron" (1886); Garland's "Under the Lion's Paw" (1889); Film: 1900 House episode
10/22 Crane's "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" (1898, web), Crane's "The Open Boat" (1897), poems (1896, 99)
10/27 Freeman's "The Revolt of 'Mother'" (1891), Film: The Revolt of Mother; Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892)
10/29 Chopin's "The Dream of an Hour" (1894), "A Respectable Woman" (1897); Wharton's "The Other Two" (1904)
11/3 Begin Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1902); Film: Apocalypse Now (1979)
11/5 Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now continued
11/10 Discuss Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now
11/12 Hardy's "Hap," "Nature's Questioning" (1898), "The Subalterns," "The Ruined Maid," "Drummer Hodge," "The Darkling Thrush" (1901), "Channel Firing," "The Convergence of the Twain," "The Voice," "Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?," "In the Time of 'The Breaking of Nations'" (1914)
11/17 Doyle's "A Scandal in Bohemia" (1891), "The Speckled Band" (1892), Film: Sherlock Holmes
11/19 No Class: Work on papers
11/24 Paper Drafts Due: Bring 4 copies to critique
11/29 No Class: Thanksgiving
12/1 Paper Final Revision, Formatting, and Editing
12/3 Final Paper Due
12/10 Final Exam 8:30-10:20 a.m.