ENG 239: Slipstream Fiction [Spring 2017]

Instructor: Jake Jakaitis
Meeting Time: 12:30 to 1:45 Tu Th
Office: Root Hall A-209
Classroom: Root Hall A-274

Office Hours: 2-3 Tu & Th and by appointment

Office Telephone: 812-237-3269


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 the following links: Foundational Studies website: at www.indstate.edu/fs, and Student Handbook.


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
Murakami, Haruki. Hard-Boiled wonderland and the End of the World. New York: Vintage Books, 1993. ISBN 0-679-74346-4  

This is a tentative syllabus. It is your responsibility to attend regularly, to be prepared for quizzes on the readings, and to adjust to changes in the reading or assignment schedule. Any changes will be posted in this syllabus. Please check the web site regularly, as additional supporting materials will be added to the site as the course proceeds.


While at times we will be reading only a single short work [story or novella] for a single class meeting, sometimes two or more stories or essays will be assigned for a single class meeting; most often, the longer assignments will be due on a Tuesday because there are five days between our Thursday and Tuesday class meetings. You will be expected to read carefully, take notes, and come to class prepared to take an objective test or to write short answer and essay responses to quiz questions about the assigned work.  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 and quizzes 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.  Familiarity with the literature will, of course, prepare you for interpretive analysis and discussion on quizzes, on the mid-term examination, on assigned papers, and on the final examination.  You are responsible for all of the assigned readings, even aspects of them not discussed in class.

1.  Attendance and Participation (100 Points)

Attendance:  Full attendance is expected.  Because we will open some class sessions with a quiz, punctuality is crucial to your success.  If you arrive late, it will be impossible to give you additional time to complete the assignment and since the class discussion following each quiz will rely on students’ responses to the quizzes, completing the work after class is not an acceptable option.  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 quiz and 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 before the next class meeting.

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, 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 short essays and examinations.  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 semester goes by rather quickly; please see me immediately if you begin having difficulty with any of the course materials.

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 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. The ISU “Code of Conduct” can be found at http://www.indstate.edu/sci/link1-code/.

2.  Essays (200 Points)

You will write two short essays (3-4 typewritten pages:  1,000 to 1,300 words). The first essay will require you to analyze one of the stories assigned in the class, while the second will allow you to either write a second story analysis or to produce your own slipstream short story following the pattern established by one of our assigned stories. Your analytical paper(s) will be supported by quotations from the storyl functioning as evidence to support your claims and will conform to MLA documentation style. Plagiarism—the intentional presentation of work that is not your own—will result in failure on these assignments. In more severe cases of plagiarism, the result will be failure in the course and notice of the offense being sent to Student Judicial. The essays will be submitted by e-mail attachment and will be returned in the same manner. Due dates and more specific instructions for documentation procedures and essay submission will appear in the assignment. Each essay will be worth 100 points.

3.  Two Examinations (300 Points)

You will write two examinations including short answer questions and an extended response to an essay question.  Each examination will be worth 150 points. The short answer component will include a matching section asking you to link quotations from the stories to the appropriate story titles. Regular attendance and note taking will be crucial to your success on this portion of these examinations. 30 Point Scoring Chart     60 Point Scoring Chart   150 Point Scoring Chart    90 Point Scoring Chart

4.  Final Examination (200 Points)

You will complete a final examination covering Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Tthe final, an essay on the novel, will be written at home and submitted as hard copy during our final examination meeting on Tuesday, May 9, at 1:00 in Root Hall 274.


100 Points
Essay #1
100 Points
Essay #2
100 Points
Exam #1
150 Points
Exam #2
150 Points
Final Exam
200 Points
800 Points

Final Grade Scale:  95% = A+, 92% = A, 90% = A-, 85% = B+, etc. Since we are working with an 800 point total, your final grade in the course will be determined by where your total point score falls on the following scale: A = 735 points; A- = 720; B+ = 680 ; B = 656; B- = 640; C+ = 600; C = 576; C- = 560; D+ =520; D = 496;  D- = 480; F = fewer than 480 points.  The same percentage scale applies to each assignment.  For example, if you earn a B on the first short essay, I will assign you somewhere between 82% and 84% of the available points depending on my evaluation of your paper.  The letter grade and specific point score will be noted in my final comments on the paper.
**** 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.


DATE             ASSIGNMENT [LCRW = Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet; FVS =Feeling Very Strange]

WEEK ONE: Course Introduction

1-17 [Tu]       Course Introduction; Preliminary Slipstream Definitions; Film: Un Chien Andalou [Dir. Luis Bunuel; Art Design Salvador Dali; 1929] SQ

1-19 [Th]       Bruce Sterling: "Slipstream" [1-8]; Norman Spinrad: "The New Weird" [PDF: 226-237] SQ


1-23 [M]       Last Day to Add/Drop With No Grade

1-24 [Tu]       Franz Kafka: "The Metamorphosis" [PDF: 1-34] SQ   It's a Wonderful Life

1-26 [Th]       Jorge Luis Borges: "Death and the Compass" [ PDF: 1-8]; "The Garden of Forking Paths" [ PDF: 1-10] SQ


1-31 [Tu]       In Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet: "A (Parenthetical) Preface" [viii-xi] & "An Introduction" [xvii-xx]

                       In Feeling Very Strange: "Slipstream: The Genre That Isn't" [viii-xv]

2-2 [Th]        In Feeling Very Strange: "Al" by Carol Emshwiller [3-13] & "The Little Magic Shop" by Bruce Sterling [14-26] SQ

Essay Assignment #1    Plagiarism Handout


2-7 [Tu]         Film: Lulu on the Bridge [Written and Directed by Paul Auster. 103 minutes; 1998.] SQCast List.

2-9 [Th]         Finish Lulu on the Bridge.   Sample Works Cited Entries.


2-14 [Tu]        In LCRW: "Heartland" by Karen Joy Fowler [58-63] & "Music Lessons" by Douglas Lain [218-245] SQ

2-16 [Th]        In FVS: "Hell is the Absence of God" by Ted Chiang [123-150] SQ


2-21 [Tu]        In LCRW: "Bay" by David Erik Nelson [133-145]  Interim Grades Due by 4 p.m.

                       In FVS: "The Specialist's Hat" by Kelly Link [39-52] SQ for both stories

2-23 [Th]         In FVS: "Light and the Sufferer" by Jonathan Lethem [53-86] SQ   Examination #1 Review Season of the Witch


2-28 [Tu]        Examination #1Stories in Order

3-2 [Th]          Film: Don't Look Now [1973]; Director: Nicholas Roeg; starring Donald Southerland and Julie Christie SQ

Read "The Film Column" by William Smith in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet[77-79] before coming to class on Thursday.



3-7 [Tu]        Finish Don't Look Now

3-9 [Th]         In LCRW: "Pretending" by Ray Vukcevich [66-76] SQ   Assign Essay #2.


SPRING BREAK: 3-13 THROUGH 3-17                 


3-21 [Tu]        In FVS: "You Have Never Been Here" by M. Rickert [272-284]

In LCRW: "You Were Neither Hot Nor Cold, So I Spit You Out" by Spindler and Nelson[355-372] SQ for both stories

3-23 [Th]         In FVS: "The God of Dark Laughter" by Michael Chabon [208-226] SQ


3-28 [Tu]        In FVS: "Bright Morning" by Jeffrey Ford [159-180] SQ

3-30 [Th]        In FVS: "Sea Oak" by George Saunders [87-111]  SQ


4-4 [Tu]        In LCRW: "Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland" by Sarah Monette [116-131] & "Serpents" by Veronica Schanoes [198-208] SQ

4-6 [Th]         In LCRW: "The Pirate's True Love" by Seana Graham [292-297] & "Happier Days" by Jan Lars Jensen [149-156] SQ  Exam #2 Review



4-11 [Tu]      Examination #2  Stories in Order




4-18 [Tu]        Begin Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: Chs. 1-8, pp. 1-88. Final Essay Exam Assignment SQ

4-20 [Th]        Continue Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: Chs. 9-13, pp. 89-142.


4-25 [Tu]        Continue Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: Chs. 14-20, pp. 143-203.

4-27 [Th]        Continue Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: Chs. 21-24, pp. 204-249.


5-2 [Tu]         Continue Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: Chs. 25-30, pp. 250-318.

5-4 [Th]        Finish Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: Chs. 31-40, pp. 319-400.



Our examination is on Tuesday, May 9, @ 1:00 in Root Hall A-274