David W. Clippinger, Ph.D.

David Clippinger



Dr. David Clippinger                                                         English 482

Office   LB 115                                                             MTWTF 9:00 to 1:00

Phone 724-773-3884                                                     16 June through 27 June 2003

e-mail dwc8@psu.edu                                                 Office Hours: By appointment



English 482 

"Making it New": Literature and its Critical Readers



Overview:    In this two week course, we will review the major schools of literary interpretation and explore the most significant developments in literary theory over the last fifty years including structuralist, post-structuralist, and post-colonial theories. Our goal in the course will be to hone our understanding of theoretical approaches to literature and to trace how these approaches have impacted how literature is defined and conceived.  By using a number of novels, short stories, and poems as the touchstones, we will apply various theoretical approaches to these literary works.  More, in an effort to enhance our understanding of the literary theory and literature as a whole, the course will be driven by the  "practice" of literary theory-its application as interpretative strategies and as ways of making literature come alive both in and out of the classroom. In this regard, this course will offer insight into how to approach the field of literature and how to teach literature as a significant rejoinder to contemporary culture.  The course has been designed especially for educators and with a pedagogical focus that introduces fresh approaches to literature as well as possible curricular sequences and assignments.

    For the focus of the course, we will read a number of “classic” literary works as well as how various critics have responded to and interpreted those works. Possible texts under consideration for the course are critical editions of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, James Joyce’s The Dead, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, as well as some short stories and poems.  In addition, the course will draw extensively upon an anthology of contemporary theory,  The Critical Tradition.  Each of the literary works under consideration have been selected since they are used frequently in high school curriculums, and many of those enrolled in the course may already be familiar with these works and/or their authors.  Subsequently, it will be expected that all of the literary works will be read before the class begins in June.


Required Texts:  All texts are available at the Penn State campus bookstore.


Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, Norton Critical Edition, Second Edition

James Joyce, The Dead, Norton Critical Edition

David H. Richter, The Critical Tradition, Second Edition


Course Requirements and Grades:   The final grade for the course will be determined according to your performance on the following assignments:


2 Presentations 20%

4 Position Papers on topic of choice (2 Pages) 20%

Final Project 40% (Curriculum Project 12+ pages)

Participation 20%


Final grades are based on the following distribution of points:

A         93-100%   C+ 77-79%

A-       90-92%     C 70-76%

B+       87-89%     D 60-69%

B         83-86%     F 0-59%

B-        80-82%


Attendance:  Since the course builds upon itself, it would be in your best interest not to miss any classes, and it will be impossible for a student to comprehend the materials of the class with more than one absence.


Format for Presentations:


1.  Presentations will be 20 minutes long with a question and answer component to be included in the final five minutes

2.  The presentation should use images—photographs, handouts, charts, and the like—in order to enhance the class comprehension of the literary works.

3.  The core objective of the presentation is to present an overview of the theoretical approach and apply that approach to the literary work at hand.

4.  The grade for the presentation will be determined by the quality of the material covered as well as the delivery of that material.


Format for Papers: 

1.  The paper must be typed and double-spaced in a 12 point font with one-inch margins

        on the left, right, top, and bottom of the page. 

2.  Two copies of the paper must be turned in. 

3.  The paper should be stapled in the upper-left hand corner and the name and page

        number should appear on every page in the upper right-hand corner; e.g., see the

        top of the next page.

 4.  As needed, all papers will use MLA format for citations and works cited page.


Late Papers: Late work will not be accepted unless arrangements have been made with me in advance.  The paper is due at the beginning of class.


Office Hours: I would encourage you to visit me during office hours so that we can have an opportunity to talk individually.  Such meetings help me to better help you, but it also demonstrates your commitment to your education. Some conference dates may be scheduled throughout the semester (see syllabus for dates), but the more active a role you take in your education, the more beneficial and relevant this course will be to you.


Writing Center:  The writing center, located in the basement of the General Classroom Building (1 GCB), is an invaluable resource for writing papers.  The student writing assistants and Professor Koutoulakis are available to help develop, write, edit, and revise papers.  The hours for the center are posted on the door, and it is necessary to sign up for an appointment.  I would encourage you to use this resource for the writing of papers in this class as well as in all of your courses.


Academic Integrity: “All students are expected to act with civility and personal integrity; respect other students' dignity, rights and property; and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their own efforts. An environment of academic integrity is requisite to respect for self and others in a civil community. Academic integrity includes a commitment to not engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty include cheating or copying, plagiarizing, submitting another person's work as one's own, using Internet sources without citation, fabricating field data or citations, "ghosting" (taking or having another student take an exam), stealing examinations, tampering with the academic work of another student, facilitating other students' acts of academic dishonesty, etc. Students charged with a breach of academic integrity will receive due process and, if the charge is found valid, academic sanctions may range, depending on the severity of the offense, from F for the assignment to F for the course.”


Disabilities: “The Pennsylvania State University is committed to providing access to a quality education for all students, including those with documented disabilities. If a student has a disability and wants to request an accommodation for a course, it is the responsibility of the student to first obtain a University accommodation letter confirming the disability and suggesting appropriate remedies. This letter can be obtained from the Penn State Office for Disability Services or the campus Disability Contact Liaisons. The contact person at Penn State Beaver is the campus nurse whose office is located in the Administration Building, (724) 773-3955. Students are encouraged to request their accommodation needs early in the semester, and once identified, a reasonable accommodation will be implemented in a timely manner. Students may also access the website for the Office of Disability Services at University Park.”




Course Schedule



June 16-20


Monday            Historical Background and Critical Overview;

                        Plato, Republic and Ion,  17

                        Aristotle, Poetics, 38


Tuesday            Discussion of Structuralism

                        Read Saussure, Nature of the Linguistic Sign,  832

                        Culler, Literary Competence, 853


Wednesday      Discussion of Structuralism

                        Read Freud, Creative Writers and Daydreaming  and The Theme of the

                        Three Caskets, 481

                        Marx, Consciousness Derived from Material Conditions and

                        On Greek Art in its Time, 385


Thursday            Continuation of Post-Structuralism

                        Read Derrida, Structure, Sign and Play, 878

                        "Deconstruction and The Dead" in The Dead, 206

                        Presentations on The Dead


Friday              Continuation of Post-Structuralism

                        Read Foucault, What is an Author, 889

                        Barthes, From Work to Text, 900

                        Presentations on The Dead

                        Position Papers 1 and 2 Due

June 23-27


Monday            Discussion of Feminism

                        Read Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Infection in the Sentence, 1360

                        Read Showalter, Toward a Feminist Poetics, 1374             

                        "Feminist Criticism and The Dead," in The Dead 178


Tuesday            Gender Studies

                        Read Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 1472

                        Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet, 1481

                        Presentations on The Turn of the Screw


Wednesday      Discussion of Culture Studies

                        Read Smith, Contingencies of Value, 1552

                        Gates, Writing, ‘Race,’ and the Difference it Makes, 1576


Thursday            Discussion of Culture Studies

                        Read Handouts on Teaching Achebe

                        Essays on Cultural Studies

                        Presentations on Things Fall Apart


Friday              Presentations on Things Fall Apart

                        Position Papers 3 and 4 Due

                        Conferences Regarding Final Project


July 3

Thursday            Final Projects Due