This class is intended to provide you with some of the fundamentals of critical reading and interpretation by looking at a series of, mostly, English and American poems, short stories, novels, and plays. You will be exposed to an impressive array of well and lesser known writers. Welcome, and enjoy!
The class is also intended to give you the opportunity to articulate your ideas and opinions on the readings through class discussions and written take-home assignments. The relaxed teaching format of the class should allow you to speak freely. I will emphasize from the very beginning the value of (frequently conflicting) readings which a particular text may invite. Just as there is no absolute right or wrong, there is also no absolute right or wrong reading of a text. Such an "open" approach toward reading should make it possible for you to speak freely in class. Participation in classroom discussion, in fact, is expected of each of you. Regular attendance will enable you to make regular contributions to the class. The more you contribute, the better—both for the intellectual climate of the classroom and for your final grade.
While our conversation will range in various directions, guided largely by our readings and our interests, we will at times home in on a Big Question that underlies all current WSU General Education classes. For our Introduction to Literature class, the question will be: what is the principal value of reading & speaking and thinking & writing about "literature" in a culture of mass consumption and information (overload)? If "knowledge of books" had once enjoyed enormous cultural prestige (as recent as with the generation of your parents and grandparents), today it is often seen as a cottage industry overshadowed by other forms of expression and artistic consumption, ranging from film and network TV to rap and hip-hop, among others.
Here, then, for good measure is the (less exciting :) description from the WSU Course Catalogue: An introduction to three major literary genres, fiction, poetry, and drama, drawn from a diverse range of authors from various cultures and historical periods. Students will learn how to read literary texts closely and critically, and how literature -- reading more generally -- can have a meaningful part of their daily lives. Course includes relevant practice in the principles of successful writing, including drafting, revising, and editing.