ENG 239: Slipstream Fiction                                                              Summer II  2016

Instructor: Jake Jakaitis

Classroom: Root Hall A-274

Office: Root Hall A-209

Meeting Time: 12-2:20 M,Tu,W, Th, F

Office Phone: 812-237-3269

Office Hours: 3-4 M & W & by apt.

e-mail: jake.jakaitis@indstate.edu

Home Page: isu.indstate.edu/jakaitis



English 239 Literature and Human Experience—Understanding how writers have imagined and represented human experience through the study of recurrent themes in literature. Foundational Studies Credit: Literary Studies.

English 239, Literature and Human Experience, is a Foundational Studies course that introduces students to literature that reflects on some aspect of human experience. In an effort to deepen students’ “awareness and understanding of the aesthetic and cultural dimensions of literary . . . studies,” each section of English 239 focuses on a distinct theme, thereby allowing students to explore their individual interests (Foundational Studies 2010). The course explores a variety of texts—poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and drama, and sometimes film or music—and uses reading, writing, discussion, group work, and presentations to ensure that students’ experiences with literature are multidimensional.

This section of ENG 239 will investigate Slipstream Fiction, alternatively called Fiction of Estrangement or The New Weird. Our goal while studying this literature will be to determine whether or not this sub-genre of literature exists in any meaningful way and, if so, to fashion a working definition of Slipstream Fiction.

After students complete English 239, they should be able to

  • write about elements of literary texts—themes, techniques, motifs, and so on.
  • discuss ideas that are intrinsic to the literature.
  • form and express independent judgments about literary works.
  • articulate the ways in which literary works reflect individual and societal experiences.
  • apply the principles of close reading in their discussions and in their writing.
  • express themselves clearly in both written and spoken forms.


This course addresses all Literary Studies criteria as defined in Foundational Studies. For additional information about Foundational Studies, including the “Sycamore Standard,” academic freedom, and the rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities, go to  http://www.indstate.edu/fs/learning_objectives/literaryStudies.htm


Kelly, James Patrick and John Kessel, eds. Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2006. ISBN 1-892391-35-x
Link, Kelly and Gavin J. Grant, eds. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. New York: Ballantine Books, 2007. ISBN 978-0-345-49913-4
A few additional readings will be provided through links and PDFs.


Because this is a four-week, summer version of the course, the reading will be heavy at times. To succeed, you must complete the assigned reading for each class discussion and carefully consider study questions when they are available for particular readings. Since we will have examinations each Friday, beginning with the second week of the course, and a final examination on Friday, July 29, it is essential that you come prepared for each class discussion and take notes to help you review for the examinations. Bring the texts to each class meeting. Study questions to focus your reading will appear as links in the on-line syllabus in advance of the due dates for the assigned readings. It is your responsibility to check our web syllabus regularly, for I will often withhold posting of study questions for later assignments or revise previously posted study questions so that I can tailor the questions to address issues and concerns raised in class discussions of the previous works.  The study questions will sustain the expectation that you have carefully read and thought about the assigned readings and that you are prepared to participate in meaningful discussion and interpretive analysis of the assigned literary works.  See #3 below for descriptions of the examinations.

  • Attendance (10%)

 Full attendance is expected and punctuality is crucial to your success.  If you arrive more than five minutes late, you will lose the attendance points for that class meeting.  If you accumulate 2 unexcused absences, you will fail this portion of the course; 3 unexcused absences will result in failure in the course.  Of course, absences, excused or unexcused, will also reduce your participation score.  If you have an excused absence for medical or other University approved reasons, it is your responsibility to make up missed work by appointment with me.

  • Participation (15%)

Much of our time will be spent discussing the assigned readings.  Exemplary performance in these activities will demonstrate that you are effectively preparing and thinking about the material and will significantly increase your participation score.  After each class meeting, I will assign participation points to students who actively comment on the readings and promote meaningful discussion related to the specified goals of the course. At semester's end, students will receive a letter grade for participation based on my estimation of their cumulative performance. It is in your best interest to take notes and come to class prepared to ask questions or provoke discussion.  These practices will also prepare you to perform well on the exams.  Conferences are not required but are encouraged. If you wish to meet with me but cannot attend my office hours, please arrange a conference with me at a more convenient time.  A summer term goes by rather quickly; please see me immediately if you begin having difficulty with any of the course materials.
Professional Courtesy: Your classroom behaviors will also affect your participation and final course grades. You will be expected to behave professionally in this college classroom.  Turn off cell phones before entering the room.  From the moment that you enter the classroom, you should be focused on the materials and assignments in this course.  Reading of newspapers or other material not directly related to work in ENG 239 will not be allowed in the classroom--neither before class has started nor during our formal class session.   If you are interested in reading newspapers or other materials unrelated to this course as you wait for class to begin, do so outside the classroom. Students who behave rudely, or who have to be asked to put down newspapers or other reading materials will lose participation points.  Under extreme circumstances, such students will be removed from the classroom or dropped from this course.  Laptops may be used for note taking and for review of course materials posted in our on-line syllabus or for searches during class to support our discussions.  However, this privilege will be revoked for anyone using a laptop for e-mail, instant messaging, or any purpose not directly related to the ongoing class discussion.  If laptop use appears to become a problem, I reserve the right to demand that an individual immediately turn the display toward me for inspection.  Any student viewing material irrelevant to this course will be removed from the class. Students engaging in private conversations not related to course material during our discussions or during films will also lose participation points; repetition of this kind of rude behavior will result in the dismissal of students from the course.
Plagiarism: Presenting work by other writers, either professional writers or other students, without attribution and documentation is considered plagiarism and will result in failure on an assignment. More serious forms of plagiarism that include lengthy passages copied from another source or entire papers written by someone other than the submitting student will result in failure in the course.

  • Examinations (75%)

You will complete three examinations in this four-week course. The exams are scheduled for each Friday, beginning with the second week of classes, so your exam dates are July 15, 22, and 29 Each exam will count for 25% of the course grade. The exams will include both short answer questions and a longer essay question. The short answer questions will be of two types: 1) Identifying the stories in which quotations appear and 2) discussing the significance of an image, symbol, or object to a particular story. The essay question for each exam will ask you to continue to refine your definition of Slipstream Fiction by drawing on examples from the readings covered that week. The final exam will not be cumulative; that is, it will only cover the readings assigned in week four. 


Attendance (10%)
100 Points
Participation (15%)
150 Points
Exam 1 (25%)
250 Points
Exam 2 (25%)
250 Points
Exam 3 (25%) 
250 Points
Total (100%) 
1,000 Points


Final Grade Scale:  A=920 points; A- = 900 points; B+=850 points; B = 820 points, B- =800 points; C+=750 points; C=720 points; C- =700 Points; D+=650 points; D=620 points; D- = 600 points; F= less than 600 points. 
**** Retain all graded assignments until you receive your final grade.  You will have little chance for grade review unless you are able to re-submit your graded work.

ENG 239: Slipstream Fiction  SII 2016                        Schedule of Assignments

The schedule below is tentative.  As the course progresses, I reserve the right to alter the schedule, so please check our website regularly. I will also continue to develop our on-line syllabus by adding author information and study questions. It is your responsibility to consult study questions and maintain awareness of changes in our schedule.

DATE                         ASSIGNMENT [LCRW = Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristband]


7-5 [Tu]                   Course Introduction; Preliminary Slipstream Definitions
                                Bruce Sterling: “Slipstream” [1-8]PDF] Sterling and Spinrad SQ
                                Film: Un Chien Andalou SQ

7-6  [W]                   Norman Spinrad: “The New Weird” [226-237]PDF
                                 Franz Kafka: “The Metamorphosis” [PDF: 6-34]SQ
                                 Film: Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life

7-7 [Th]                   Jorge Luis Borges: “Death and the Compass” [PDF: 1-8] & “The Garden of Forking Paths” [PDF:                                 1-10]SQ & Gabriel Garcia Marquez: "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" [PDF:1-4]SQ
                                 Bruce Sterling: Slipstream 2 [PDF: 1-5]

7-8   [F]                    In LCRW: “A Parenthetical Preface” [viii-xi]; “An Introduction” [xvii-xx]
                                 In Feeling Very Strange: “Slipstream: The Genre That Isn’t” [viii-xv]
                                 Film: Lulu on the Bridge—written and directed by Paul Auster SQ


7-11  [M]                In Feeling Very Strange: “Al” by Carol Emshwiller [3-13]; “The Little Magic Shop” by Bruce Sterling                                [14-26]; & “Hell is the Absence of God” by Ted Chiang [123-150] SQ

7-12 [Tu]               In LCRW: “Music Lessons” by Douglas Lain [218-245] SQ
                              In Feeling Very Strange: “Light and the Sufferer” by Jonathan Lethem [53-86] SQ

7-13  [W]               In LCRW: “Bay” by David Erik Nelson [133-145]
                               In Feeling Very Strange: The Specialist’s Hat” by Kelly Link [39-52] SQ for Both Stories

7-14 [Th]                 In LCRW: “Heartland” by Karen Joy Fowler [58-63] SQ & “Pretending” by Ray Vukcevich [66-76] SQ   

7-15   [F]                 Examination #1 [25%]  Matching Key   Exam #1 Preparation   Stories in Order
                                 Film: Don’t Look Now [1973]; Director: Nicholas Roeg SQ

Scoring Charts for Examination #1:   90 Point  50 Point   60 Point   160 Point  250 Point   Comments on Examination 1


7-18  [M]                In Feeling Very Strange: “The God of Dark Laughter” by Michael Chabon [208-226] SQ &
                                In LCRW: “You Were Neither Hot, Nor Cold, But Lukewarm, So I Spit You Out” by Cara Spindler and David Erik Nelson [355-372] SQ

7-19 [Tu]                 In LCRW: “Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland” by Sarah Monette [116-131] “Serpents” by Veronica Schanoes [198-208]   SQ   

7-20 [W]                  In LCRW: “Travels with the Snow Queen” by Kelly Link [3-23] SQ, “Help Wanted” by Karen Russell [254-261] SQ, & “The Well-Dressed Wolf: A Comic” by Laurence Schimel and Sara Rojo [269-276]
7-21 [Th]                 In LCRW: “The Pirate’s True Love” by Seana Graham [292-297]; “Happier Days” by Jan Lars Jensen [149-156] SQ , & “The Red Phone” [266-269]

7-22   [F]                 Examination #2 [25%] Exam #2 Preparation   150 Point Scoring Chart  Stories in Order
                                Film: Bubba Ho-Tep


7-25 [M]                  In Feeling Very Strange: “Bright Morning” by Jeffrey Ford [159-180] & In LCWR: “What’s Sure to Come” by Jeffrey Ford [87-101] SQ for both Ford Stories
7-26 [Tu]                 In Feeling Very Strange: “Sea Oak” by George Saunders [87-111] SQ & “You have Never Been Here” by M.Rickert [272-284] SQ

7-27 [W]                 In LCRW: “The Rapid Advance of Sorrow” by Theodora Goss [107-113] &
                                In Feeling Very Strange: “The Lions Are Asleep This Night” by Howard Waldrop[250-271] SQ for both stories.

7-28 [Th]                 In LCRW: “ The Ichthyomancer Writes His Friend with an Account of the Yeti’s Birthday Party” by  David J. Schwartz [189-195] &
                                In Feeling Very Strange: “Biographical Notes to a Discourse ‘On the Nature of Causality, with Airplanes’” [185-207] SQ for both stories

7-29   [F]                 Examination #3 [25%]Final Examination Preparation

Stories in Order