Our main text will be X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia's An Introduction to Fiction, 8th Edition (paperback). Find out how to get a copy by clicking here.
Before printing off a copy of this schedule, be sure to read the pointers about using the Course Schedule.
Schedule of Assignments for the first 2weeks
For the first week I'll be giving listing a reading-and-reflection assignment per day. From then on, there will generally be 3 assignments per week, somewhat longer.
For a while the page references to our textbook will be blank ("XXX"). This is because the text has moved into a new edition for which we are awaiting delivery. When the text arrives at Claflin Books, I myself will finally have a copy and be able to update the page references. Meanwhile, all that we need for the first couple of weeks will be available on the web, via a link below.
20 Aug (M): After our first class session, you should review the following items on our course web site, to get a basic idea of what we will be up to, and why.
You may well have some questions about what you find here. Bring them to our next class.
21 Aug (T): Print off a copy of each of the following mini-stories (all are on the web). Give them some thought. Bring them to class on Wednesday.
(1) Aesop (legendary: 6th C. BC?), "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse" (comparing version 1 and version 2), "The Man and the Serpent", and "The Oak and the Reeds". Also, read "The Ass and the Lapdog" in two different versions bequeathed to us by tradition: V1 and V2. (These two texts are assigned quite different morals. Could they just as well be switched, or do the differences in the details of the stories lead in different directions, for the "lessons" they teach? Could one of them be adapted to support the same moral as is often assigned to Aesop's "The Fox and the Grapes"?)
Begin by reading Leo Groarke Wilfrid's account of what is known (not known, but often treated as known) about the life of Aesop. (Worth bookmarking is John R. Long's comprehensive site on the fables of Aesop: this is something you'll probably want to dip into later on.)
(2) Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95), "The Donkey and the Lapdog" and "The Oak and the Reed" (from Fables choisis mises en vers [Selected Fables Set into Verse], 12 volumes, 1668-94).
Start by reading the introduction to La Fontaine's collection provided on this web site. (If you've had some French, you can also read the text of La Fontaine's version of Aesop's tales in the original.)
(3) "The Appointment in Samarra" (a traditional tale, retold by W. Somerset Maugham).
This little tale appears in our course textbook (Kennedy & Gioia) on p. 4.
(4) the Brothers Grimm, "Godfather Death" (transcribed, mid-19th Century in Hesse, Germany).
The story also appears in our course textbook (Kennedy & Gioia) on pp. 6-8, as well as elsewhere on the web, for example, here and here. (This last website has divided the story into 3 pages, so be sure to click "Next" when you get to the bottom of the first 2 pages.) A site of special interest is D.L. Ashliman's translation of the folklorist Aarne-Thompson's renowned compilation of world folktales by "type." Here you can find several variants of the type to which Aarne-Thompson assigned the tale the Grimm brothers included in their famous collection. (What are the elements in the three tales provided here that invite us to form a "type" concept of which each is a "variation"? Notice that the text of the Grimm brothers' version given here leaves out an element of the version you find in the other citations given here. What is this element? In your view, is the story better if this element is omitted, or if it is included?) (Worth book-marking is Ashliman's comprehensive site, The Grimm Brothers' Home Page, with links to lots of stuff that will be fun to explore later.)
Not required but highly recommended: The poet Anne Sexton had a lot of fun devising "bent" versions of famous fairy tales. You'll enjoy checking out her version of "Godfather Death". If you know German, you might want to check out the original text that the Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm published back in 1812, in Kinder- und Hausmărchen (Childhood and Household Tales). (It's also here.)
22 Aug (W): Print off a copy of each of the following stories, and give them some thought in light of the study guides cited. Bring them to class today. Starting with the second of the pieces by Thurber linked to here, do you notice any difference between the way in which these tales make the meaning they make?
(1) a story from Haiti: "The Story of Owl". There are a number of places to find this on the web. Try one of these: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (On the last of these pages, it's the 3rd of the 3 stories presented.)
(2) James Thurber, "The Little Girl and the Wolf" and "The Owl Who Was God"
Have a quick look at a brief bio of Thurber compiled by a fan in Finland,
Check out the brief study guide to Thurber's "The Owl Who Was God."
(3) Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), "The Moral Principle and the Material Interest" (from Fantastic Fables).
Again, start by reading the brief introduction to Bierce's collection, which appears at the begining of the table of contents on this delightful web site.
23 Aug (Th): Have a look at a famous linked pair of New Testament parables -- traditionally known as the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Good Seed. The meaning of any element in a work of art depends on its particular role within the work as a whole. Does the element of "the seed" play the same role in these two stories?
24 Aug (F): Review again the the fables and fairy tales we read for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then work through the lead entry in our on-line glossary of critical concepts on the concept of psychological repression. (Follow up by tracing out Freud's analogy for explaining his concept of repression, and his parable on alternatives to it.)
27 Aug (M): Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour". (If you already have our textbook, you'll find this story in it, on p. XXX. [Don't forget to read the biographical sketch on p. XXX.] Otherwise you'll need to print it off from the web link just given.) Work through the story in the light of our Study Guide for it. If you don't have access to the biographical sketch in our main text, have a look at Jennifer Mathews and David Lewis's introduction to Chopin, which is actually more informative.
You can also find the story on the web in a number of additional places. Here's one and here's another. Many sites offer links to useful study questions. Among them is this site, with links to some useful study questions. Another useful site is this one, which also offers a series of helpful prompts to effective readerly questions. Still another is to be found here.
29 Aug (W): Read the anecdote about the Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu. Read it through a couple of times before reviewing it more closely in the light of the headnote and the two series of questions provided on the same page. (If you already have our textbook, you'll find this anecdote, with headnote and 3 questions, on p. 8. But there are some additional questions on the web page linked to here that you'll want to work through.)
Aug 31 (F): By now all students will probably have in hand copies of our text (Kennedy & Gioia).
Suggestions are welcome. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Contents copyright © 2001 by Lyman A. Baker.
This page last updated 19 August 2001.