ENG 436: Topics in World Literature                                                               Spring 2016

Instructor: Jake Jakaitis

Classroom: Root Hall A-011

Office:  Root Hall A209

Meeting Time:  Tu Th 2-3:15

Office Phone:  237-3269

Office Hours:  1-1:50, & 3:30-4:30 Tu Th and by appt.


Web Page: http://isu.indstate.edu/jakaitis/ 


English 436: Topics in World Literature was established as a requirement for all English and English teaching majors beginning in the fall of 2011, when the English Department determined it necessary to require two sections of American and two sections of British literature sophomore level surveys. This change necessitated the elimination of ENG 236 and ENG 237, the previously required surveys of world literature. ENG 436 was created to insure that our majors would have at least some exposure to world literatures to supplement their more intensive study of American and British literature. Our section of this varying topic course, will address world literature that has influenced contemporary American literature or that parallels trends in American literature while demonstrating that the concept of the novel [or of fiction in general] exists in a perpetual state of flux, is a constantly evolving form that responds to changes in the fabric of the social and the political.  Perhaps a few words from the conclusion of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s For a New Novel [1963] will clarify the emphases of this course:

“We find in this kind of remark—on the passing fashion, the pacification of the rebellious, the return to the healthy tradition, and other nonsense—only the good old attempt to prove, imperturbably, desperately, that ‘deep down nothing ever changes’ and that ‘there is never anything new under the sun’; whereas in truth everything is constantly changing and there is always something new. Academic criticism would even like to make the public believe that the new techniques will simply be absorbed by the ‘eternal’ novel and will some day serve to perfect some detail of the Balzacian character, of the chronological plot, and of a transcendent humanism.
It is possible that this day will come, as a matter of fact, and even quite soon. But once the New Novel begins ‘serving some purpose,’ whether psychological analysis, or the Catholic novel, or socialist realism, this will be the signal to the inventors that a New Novel is seeking to appear, and no one will yet know what it might serve—except literature.” (168)


Babel, Isaac. Red Cavalry and Other Stories. (9780140449976)
Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths.  (9780811216999)
Calvino, Italo. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. (9780156439619)
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude.  (9780060883287)
Lem, Stanislaw. Solaris. (9780156027601)
Murakami, Haruki. Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. (9780679743460)
Robbe-Grillet, Alain. Two Novels by Robbe-Grillet: Jealousy & In the Labyrinth. (9780802151063)
Yan, Mo. The Republic of Wine. (9781611457292)


1.  Attendance and Participation (10% = 100 Points)

Attendance:  Full attendance is expected.  If you accumulate 6 unexcused absences, you will fail this course.  Of course, all absences, excused or unexcused, affect your grade because each absence reduces your attendance and participation score.  If you have an excused absence for medical or other University approved reasons, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the material missed during your absence. You may do so either by consulting with other students or by scheduling an appointment with me, preferably before the next class meeting.  Of course, each unexcused absence will reduce your attendance score. Attendance will account for 5% of your course grade.

Participation:  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 attendance/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, I will assign you a letter grade for participation based on your accumulated point total. 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 short essays and the final project.  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.  If you do intend to meet with me during one of my office hours, it is best to let me know that you are coming so that I can reserve the time for you. A semester goes by rather quickly; please see me immediately if you begin having difficulty with any of the course materials.  Participation will account for 5% of your course grade.

Professional Courtesy:  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 this course 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. 


2. In-Class Writing [10% = 100 Points]

 You will write five in class responses to the assigned reading. Each assignment will be worth 20 points, or 2% of the final course grade. In these short essays, you will respond to a question about the assigned reading for the day, demonstrating that you have read and thought about the assignment. Because we will not have a final examination, these in-class writings, for the most part, will occur in the second half of the semester.

3. Response Papers (20% = 200 Points)

You will write two 3-4 page [1,000-1,300 word], typed response papers responding to topics provided in our on-line syllabus.  The papers will be typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins on all four sides of the page.  Use a standard Times New Roman or Cambria 12 font size.  Essays will be submitted by e-mail attachment and will be returned in the same manner.  Each essay will be worth 100 points. More detailed instructions for essay submissions, including an explanation of MLA documentation style and the course plagiarism policy, will appear in the essay assignment. Please note that plagiarism—presenting work that is not your own as if it were your own writing—will result in failure in this course.

4.  Mid-Term Examination (30% = 300 Points)

During week nine, you will write a mid-term examination including both short answer questions about concepts, terms, and assigned works discussed in class and essay questions.  These examinations will cover the readings as well as the broad issues in American literature discussed in class. It is crucial that you attend the scheduled review class meeting for the examination. The mid-term examination is worth 300 points or 30% of the course grade.

5.  Final Research Paper (30% = 300 Points)

Over the second half of the semester, you will research and develop a 6-8 page [1,800-2,400 word] research paper discussing the work of one of the authors whose work has been discussed in this class. The specific options for and format of the assignment will be posted in our on-line syllabus.  The final paper will be submitted during our final examination class meeting on Thursday, May 5, at 3:00 in Root Hall A-011.


The following point totals are tentative guidelines and are subject to change based, for example, on the number of quizzes actually given during the semester.  I reserve the right to alter assignments and percentage values as the semester progresses.  If changes become necessary, I will inform the class in advance and post all changes on this site:


Attendance/Participation [10%]


In-Class Writing [10%]


Response Papers [20%]


Mid-Term Exam [30%]


Final Research Paper [30%]





We will work on a 1,000–point system. In accord with the University's grading policy, including minus final grades, the following scale will be used: 920 points or higher = A; 900 = A-; 850 = B+; 820 = B; 800 = B-; 750 = C+; 720 = C; 700 = C-; 650 = D+; 620 = D; 600 = D-; less than 600 = F.

 ****Retain this policy statement and 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 436: Topics in World Literature                                                           Spring 2016 Syllabus

This is a tentative schedule of readings and is subject to change as the semester continues. Please check the on-line syllabus and schedule of readings regularly, for I will frequently update with additional links and supporting information on texts and authors. 


WEEK ONE:  Course Introduction

 1-12  [Tu]     Course Introduction
 1-14 [Th]      In Red Cavalry and Other Stories by Isaac Babel: “Childhood. At Grandmother’s” (21-27), “The Story of My Dovecot” (27-40],

                      “First Love” (41-49), “The Journey” (80-88).  Leon Trotsky.     Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.


1-19 [Tu]       In Red Cavalry and Other Stories: The Red Cavalry Stories [91-232).

1-21 [Th]       from Robbe-Grillet’s For a New Novel: “On Several Obsolete Notions” (25-47) & “From Realism to Reality” (157-168)—Handout

                      Watch beginning of Last Year at Marienbad. [dir: Alain Resnais; scriptwriter: Alain Robbe-Grillet. 1960.]  Film Commentary


1-26 [Tu]       In Two Novels by Robbe-Grillet: “Objective Literature: Alain Robbe-Grillet” by Barthes (11-25) & “A Note on Jealousy” by Anne Minor (27-31).

                      Finish Last Year at Marienbad. Alan Resnais on the Script

1-28 [Th]       In Two Novels by Robbe-Grillet: Jealousy (35-138). Discussion Questions


2-2  [Tu]         Hiroshima Mon Amor: Script & Film. [dir: Alain Resnais; script: Marguerite Duras. 1959.] Cast and Crew   SQ

2-4  [Th]         Hiroshima Mon Amour: Script & Film. The Nausea of Choice    RESPONSE PAPER #1 TOPICS


2-9   [Tu]        Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges: “Introduction” [xiii-xxiii], “The Lottery in Babylon” [30-35], & “The Library of Babel” [51-58].                          

2-11 [Th]       Labyrinths: “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” [3-18], “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” [36-44], & “The Circular Ruins” [45-50].                                                           

Response Paper #1 Due Sunday, 2-14, by 11:59 p.m.


2-16 [Tu]       Labyrinths: “The Garden of Forking Paths” [19-29] & “Death and the Compass” [76-87].

2-18  [Th]      One Hundred Years of Solitudeby Gabriel Garcia Marquez: 1-78.


2-23 [Tu]       One Hundred Years of Solitude: 79-243. Interim Grades Due.

2-25 [Th]       One Hundred Years of Solitude: 245-313.


3-1   [Tu]        One Hundred Years of Solitude: 315-417. In-Class Writing Teach for America  Scoring Chart: 4 Points  Scoring Chart: 20 Points

3-3   [Th]        If on a Winter’s Night a Travelerby Italo Calvino: 1-90. Study Questions for Calvino


3-8    [Tu]       If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler: 91-260.

3-10  [Th]                             MID-TERM EXAMINATION            



3-22  [Tu]                              POPULAR CULTURE ASSOCIATION MEETING

3-24  [Th]                              POPULAR CULTURE ASSOCIATION MEETING


3-29 [Tu]       Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami: Chs. 1-15 [1-166]. MolloyDialogue

3-31 [Th]       Hard Boiled Wonderland: Chs. 16-21 [167-221].


4-5  [Tu]         Hard Boiled Wonderland: Chs. 22-30 [222-318]. In-Class Writing

4-7  [Th]         Hard Boiled Wonderland: Chs. 31-40 [319-400].


4-12 [Tu]       Solaris by Stanislaw Lem: “The Arrival” through “The Little Apocrypha” [1-89].   

4-14 [Th]       Solaris: “The Conference” through “The Liquid Oxygen” [90-146].


4-19 [Tu]       Solaris: “Conversation” to the end [147-204]. In-Class Writing Assignment.  Response Paper #2 Assignment

4-21 [Th]       The Republic of Wineby Mo Yan: Chapters 1-3 [1-113].

Response Paper #2 Due on Sunday, April 24, @ 11:59 pm


4-26 [Tu]       The Republic of Wine: Chapters 4-7 [114-270].   Final Paper Project

4-28 [Th]       The Republic of Wine: Chapters 8-10 [271-356]. In-Class Writing Assignment.

FINAL EXAM MEETING: THURSDAY, MAY 5, @ 3:00 in Root Hall A-011.
[Attendance at the final examination period is mandatory.]