English 105-06: Heroes and Monsters: Narratives of Identity and Alterity

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English 105-06: Heroes and Monsters: Narratives of Identity and Alterity

Course Syllabus

Instructor: Melissa “Melle” Ridley Elmes Office: MHRA 3112 G

T/R 12:30-1:45 p.m. Office Hours: T/R 10:00-11:00 (or by appointment)

Building/Room: Bryan 206 Email: maelmes@uncg.edu
Course Description and Student Learning Outcomes

This course will provide a variety of critical lenses for considering the relationships between culture and narrative, focusing on the themes of heroism and monstrosity. Drawing on a selection of narratives ranging from epic poetry, medieval romance, and the gothic novel to middle-grade fantasy, YA paranormal romance, and the graphic novel, we will consider the relevance of stories and storytelling to our daily lives, how our narratives shape the roles we play in society, and the various conventions of identity and otherness that they reinforce or undermine. We’ll look closely at what constitutes a narrative, how narrative forms change and develop over time and between cultures, how narratives codify and subvert cultural beliefs, and how writers and readers use narrative to articulate their own ideologies. We will develop a vocabulary for discussing, analyzing, and writing about narrative documents. As we read the texts for this class, we will also be asking and constructing answers for the following questions: What is a hero? What is a monster? Can a hero be monstrous? Can a monster be heroic? What is the role of heroes and monsters in a culture? And finally, (why) do we need heroes and monsters?

GLT Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs): Upon successful completion of this course, the student will:

1. Demonstrate the reading skill required for the student of literary texts. (LG3)

2. Identify and/or describe some of the varied characteristics of literary texts. (LG3)

3. Demonstrate orally, in writing, or by some other means, a fundamental ability to use some

of the techniques and/or methods of literary analysis. (LG 1 and LG 3)

4. Identify and/or describe some of the various social, historical, cultural, and/or theoretical

contexts in which literary texts have been written and interpreted. (LG3)

Those SLOs labeled (LG3) relate to UNCG’s Learning Goal #3 for General Education,

which says students will “Describe, interpret, and evaluate the ideas, events, and expressive

traditions that have shaped collective and individual human experience through inquiry and

analysis in the diverse disciplines of the humanities, religions, languages, histories, and the arts.”


Those SLOs labeled (LG1) relate to UNCG’s Learning Goal #1 for General Education, which says students will “think critically, communicate effectively, and develop appropriate fundamental skills in quantitative and information literacies.” (http://web.uncg.edu/reg/Bulletin/Current/UnivReq/GECProgram.aspx)

Required Texts

The following texts must be purchased and are available at the University Bookstore:

Scott Thomas Gibson, Tammy Lancaster & Summar Sparks, Lenses: Perspectives on Literature

ISBN: 978-073805105-5

Seamus Heaney, trans. Beowulf ISBN: 978-0393320978

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ISBN: 978-0590353427
Bram Stoker, Dracula ISBN: 978-0393970128

Stephanie Meyer, Twilight ISBN: 978-0316015844
John Byrne & Mike Mignola, Hellboy, Volume 9: The Wild Hunt ISBN: 978-1595824318

The following texts will be available on Blackboard and should be printed out and brought to class on the dates on which we are discussing them:

Joseph Campbell: The Hero’s Journey

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen: Monster Culture: Seven Theses
Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur (excerpts)

Arthur and Gorlagon”

Marie de France, “Bisclavret”

The Holy Bible: Exodus chapters 1-5

Other materials:

Please bring paper, pen and/or pencil, highlighter, your textbooks, essay drafts and writings done for class, and print outs of assigned readings posted to Blackboard with you to each class session. Failure to come to class prepared with these materials will result in the loss of participation points. Multiple infractions concerning your preparedness for class will result in your being asked to leave and counted absent for the day.


My grading system is in keeping with university grading policies. UNCG defines an A as excellent; a B as good; a C as average; a D as lowest passing grade; and an F as failure. In adherence to this scale, you should understand that a C means you successfully met the requirements of the course, not that you did poorly, which would be indicated by either a D or an F. Likewise, an A or B indicate that you met and exceeded course requirements. A basic standards sheet is included at the end of this syllabus for your general awareness.

Your final course grade is calculated as follows:

Class Participation: 20% of your final course grade

This class is predicated on the notion that in order to become better readers and writers, students must read, think and write about what they read, and discuss and analyze texts both individually and in the company of others. As such, while there will be some lecturing, the majority of class time will be spent actively engaged in these activities, and all students are required to participate both in individual and group endeavors. Class participation will be gauged through attendance, completion of assigned reading and writing prior to class, quizzes, informal in-class writings, workshopping papers, involvement in class discussions and quality postings to Blackboard discussions. It is necessary to participate actively in class in order to meet the stated student learning outcomes for the course.

Blackboard Discussions: You will be divided into discussion groups to facilitate online discussions. Every week after class on Monday a discussion question germane to the topics being covered that week will be posted to Blackboard. You are required to respond to this question by 5 p.m. Wednesday, and then to have responded to and/or elaborated on the postings of at least two of your classmates by 5 p.m. Friday. Blackboard discussions count towards your class participation grade, so be sure your postings are meaningful and consist of more than simple agree/disagree statements or superficial comments. You should aim for between 4 and 6 well-crafted sentences in each posting.

Reading Responses: You are required to write 500-700 word responses (approximately one single-spaced, typewritten page) for your choice of any three of our course readings throughout the term. These responses can consist of personal reflection, elaboration on a discussion thread, or be analytical in nature, but should reflect your own, original thinking on the texts, not simply regurgitation of what we discussed in class. They will be collected, read, and commented on, but not assigned grades. All responses must be completed prior to Week Fourteen (i.e. the last day on which a response can be turned in is Thursday, November 14.) These reading responses may be used as the foundation for your formal essays.

Workshopping Papers: The week before each of your two formal papers for this class are due, we will be workshopping your roughdrafts in class. You are required to bring 3 printed copies of your completed roughdraft to class on these days. If your roughdraft is not complete, 10% will be deducted from the final grade on your final draft. If you do not participate in workshopping, you can earn no higher than a grade of “C” on the final paper.

Reading Quizzes: 10% of your final course grade. There will be a reading quiz for each text we cover in this course. Reading quizzes are a measure of whether or not you read; as such, they will comprise basic questions concerning character, plot, author, genre, dates, and the like. The lowest reading quiz grade will be dropped.

Student-led discussion: 10% of your final grade in the course. You will each sign up to lead class discussion once during the term. On the day for which you sign up, you should come to class prepared with four questions designed to generate discussion. Examples of acceptable student-generated discussion questions will be provided. I encourage you to come see me during my office hours prior to leading class discussion to go over your questions if you are concerned as to whether or not they will meet expectations.

Essay One: 2-3 pages, 15% of your final course grade Subject: thematic or character analysis, text of choice. Refer to assignment sheet for further instructions.

Essay Two: 5 pages, 20% of your final course grade Open Topic; research component. Refer to assignment sheet for further details.

Failure to turn in any final essay will count against your participation grade as well as the essay grade.

Midterm examination: 15% of your final course grade

Final Examination: 10% of your final course grade


My basic expectation of you as university students is that you will be in class on time and prepared, that you will participate actively, that you will conduct yourselves responsibly and with respect for everyone in class, and that you will give me your best effort. Beyond that:

Academic Integrity: “Academic integrity is founded upon and encompasses the following five values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Violations include, for example, cheating, plagiarism, misuse of academic resources, falsification, and facilitating academic dishonesty. If knowledge is to be gained and properly evaluated, it must be pursued under conditions free from dishonesty. Deceit and misrepresentations are incompatible with the fundamental activity of this academic institution and shall not be tolerated” (from UNCG’s Academic Integrity Policy). To ensure that you understand the university’s policy on academic integrity, review the guidelines and list of violations at http://sa.uncg.edu/dean/academic-integrity

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the most common violation of academic integrity. In its most blatant form, you are plagiarizing when you download a paper off of the Internet, turn in a paper someone else wrote for another class, or have someone else write your essays for you. You are also plagiarizing when you engage in verbatim copying OR paraphrasing from a source without proper acknowledgement, and when you use someone else’s ideas without acknowledgement. Per UNCG regulations, penalties for plagiarism range from the minimum of an F on the assignment in question to expulsion from the university. Please familiarize yourself with the university policies on plagiarism at the following web address: http://sa.uncg.edu/dean/academic-integrity/violation/plagiarism. I will be going over proper techniques for citing and documenting sources, you have access to the MLA handbook and your textbook for examples, and you can also look up proper citation on the Internet – there is simply no excuse for plagiarism at the college level. It is better to err on the side of over-documenting; when in doubt, ask!

All papers for this class are to follow the MLA citation guidelines and format.

In my course, a first violation of the academic integrity and/or plagiarism policies as laid forth by the University will result in a grade of “F” on the assignment in question, while two violations will constitute automatic failure of the class.

Accommodations: Students with documentation of special needs should see me about accommodations as soon as possible. If you believe you could benefit from such accommodations, you must first register with the Office of Accessibility Resources and Services on campus before such accommodations can be made. The office is located on the second floor of the Elliott University Center (EUC) in Suite 215, and the office is open 8am to 5pm, Monday - Friday. Telephone: 334-5440; e-mail: ods@uncg.edu.

Attendance: Class attendance is mandatory, and I do not differentiate between excused and unexcused absences. Because “life happens,” you are permitted three (3) absences with no penalty. A fourth and fifth absence will result in a half letter grade deduction each from your final grade, while six absences will result in a non-negotiable failure of the course for the term. Student athletes are not exempt from the attendance policy; if you are an athlete, you are strongly encouraged to check your schedule to determine whether there will be too many conflicts to support your continued enrollment in this section. When absent, you are responsible for all materials missed and for turning in any due assignments before you miss class. ALWAYS check blackboard for updates on assignments and due dates when you are absent from class.

Tardiness: I take attendance at the beginning of class, and we will not hold off on the day’s planned activities for latecomers. If you are tardy to class you run the risk of being counted absent for the day. Three tardies constitute an absence. Anything you miss as a result of being tardy cannot be made up and will count against your grade. Leaving early without prior agreement will be marked as an absence as well, and anything you miss as a result of leaving class early also cannot be made up.

Religious Observances: You are by state law allowed two excused absences due to religious holidays. These absences do not count toward the total maximum allowed above. If you plan to miss class due to a religious holiday, you must notify me by email at least 48 hours prior to the absence. You are still responsible for all of the materials you miss and for turning in due assignments before missing class.

Electronic Devices: This is not a technology course. Laptops, cell phones, Ipads, Ipods, MP3 players – whatever electronic devices you possess, don’t bring them to class. If you do bring them to class, don’t turn them on. Print out hard copies of reading assignments and essay drafts to bring to class with you. In-class writings will be done by hand unless you have a registered disability requiring you to use a laptop. Students who willfully choose to ignore this policy will be called out publicly for disrupting the class; repeat offenders will be asked to leave and counted as absent.

Assignments and Due Dates: Assignments are due on or before their due date, regardless of circumstances. Technological problems, malfunctions, or misunderstandings, are not grounds for excuse or exemption from this policy. If you are absent the day an assignment is due, you must have it in to me before or on that day and by our normal meeting time or it will not be counted. If you are in class the day an assignment is due, it is due at the beginning of class. I do not accept late work. Assignments may be handed in early. If you are struggling, come see me before, not after, an assignment is due.

Discussing/Disputing a Grade: You are required to wait 24 hours from the time you receive a graded paper before discussing it with me. I will not discuss your grades during class time or in front of other students. If you have questions or concerns about your performance in the class, please stop by during my office hours or make an appointment to see me individually.

Need More Help? The University Writing Center, located in MHRA room 3211, is a resource funded by your university activity fee and available to all UNCG students. Bring your writing assignment at any stage of its completion, paper, and pen or pencil, and a staff member will hold a one-on-one consultation with you to help you develop your work. No appointment is necessary; the writing center works on a first-come, first-serve basis. For assignments five pages or fewer in length, you can also use the online writing center via Meebo Chat on the Writing Center’s website or by messaging uncgaskthewc@gmail.com through your iSpartan account.

Writing Center Hours: M-R 9am – 8pm, Friday 9am – 3pm, Sunday 5pm – 8pm

Additionally, the Learning Assistance Center is located in McIver Hall, rooms 101-104, and 150. Telephone: 334-3878. E-mail: lac@uncg.edu.

Contacting Me: Aside from my regular office hours or setting up an appointment, the best way to reach me is by email: maelmes@uncg.edu. It is reasonable to expect a response within 24 hours; if you do not hear back from me after 24 hours have passed, please re-send the message. For all communication related to this course, please do me the courtesy of putting your last name and English 101 or Writing I in the subject line, so I know what this is in reference to; using your UNCG email account will best prevent me from accidentally deleting your message in the mistaken belief that anything from Lovethebruins@hotmail.com must be spam.

In any situation not expressly covered in this syllabus my word… is the last word.

Course Schedule

Please note that every effort will be made to adhere to the schedule as presented here. In the instance that the schedule must be altered you will be verbally informed in class (when possible) and an announcement will be posted on Blackboard. Any changes are intended to benefit or accommodate students, i.e. I will not move the due date of an assignment up or add more reading, but I may move a due date back or drop a reading. It is your responsibility to keep up with any changes made to the syllabus.

Major assignments/due dates are highlighted in Bold Print

Week One: Course Introduction; defining the terms; critical perspectives on narrative; critical perspectives on heroes and monsters

T 8/20 Go over syllabus; Lenses, pp. 1-7; in-class writing; class-generated terms and definitions

R 8/22 The Hero’s Journey & Monster Culture: Seven Theses; Student-led discussion

Week Two: The Classic Figures: Epic heroes and monsters in the Anglo-Saxon tradition

T 8/27 Lenses, pp. 25-30 and 69-79; Beowulf

R 8/29 Beowulf; reading quiz; Student-led discussion

Week Three: The Quintessential Hero: King Arthur in the English tradition

T 9/3 Lenses, pp. 35-37, 60-63, and 81-87; Morte Darthur

R 9/5 Morte Darthur; reading quiz; student-led discussion

Week Four: King Arthur, cont’d

T 9/10 Morte Darthur; Lenses pp. 9-22

R 9/12 Morte Darthur; student-led discussion

Week Five: The Updated Hero: Moses, King Arthur, and Harry Potter

Exodus; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

T 9/17 Exodus; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

R 9/19 reading quiz; WORKSHOPPING ROUGHDRAFTS, Essay One. Bring 3 copies of your roughdraft to class on this date

Week Six: Heroes for Children…? Harry Potter, cont’d

T 9/24 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

R 9/26 [No quiz this week] ESSAY ONE DUE. 2-3 pages. Subject: thematic or character analysis, text of choice. Refer to assignment sheet for further instructions. Midterm Examination Review

Week Seven: Midterms


R 10/3 Meet in MHRA 1305 at 12:30 p.m. for library research orientation session in preparation for your final paper.

Week Eight: It’s a man! It’s a wolf! Classic werewolves in the English tradition

T 10/8 Arthur and Gorlagon; Bisclavret (Lenses, pp. 25-30 and 69-79)

R 10/10 Arthur and Gorlagon; Bisclavret; reading quiz; student-led discussion

Week Nine: The Quintessential Vampire: Count Dracula

**Lenses, pp. 95-104 and 107-112; Bram Stoker’s Dracula should be read for Thursday’s class**


R 10/17 reading quiz; Lenses, pp. 95-104 and 107-112; Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Week Ten: Dracula, continued

T 10/22 Bram Stoker’s Dracula

R 10/24 Bram Stoker’s Dracula; reading quiz; student-led discussion

Week Eleven The Monster Mash! New Spins On Old Favorites for the YA Crowd

T 10/29 Lenses pp. 63-65; Twilight

R 10/31 Twilight; reading quiz; student-led discussion

Week Twelve: Who’s Your Hero? Race, Gender, and Challenging the Canon with Twilight

T 11/5 Twilight

R 11/7 Twilight; student-led discussion

Week Thirteen: Getting Graphic: Heroes and Monsters in visual narrative texts

Readings: Hellboy, Volume Seven: The Hunt

T 11/12 graphic theory reading, Hellboy, Volume Seven: The Hunt

R 11/14 reading quiz; WORKSHOPPING ROUGHDRAFTS, Essay Two. Bring 3 copies of your roughdraft to class on this date

Week Fourteen: Visual narratives, continued

T 11/19 Hellboy, Volume Seven: The Hunt; student-led discussion

R 11/21 Hellboy, Volume Seven: The Hunt [No reading response or quiz this week] ESSAY TWO DUE. 5 pages. Open Topic; research component. Refer to assignment sheet for further details.

Week Fifteen: Review for Final Examination

T 11/26 exam review; course evaluations


Week Sixteen

T Reading Day – NO CLASS

R FINAL EXAMINATION 12:00-3:00 p.m.

Grading Standards

In general, everything being graded in this course, from your performance in class writings and discussion to your formal essays, is being considered against the following basic rubric:











Clearly exceeds expectations

Exceeds/attempts more or less successfully to go beyond basic expectations

Meets basic expectations

Falls short of basic expectations

Does not meet expectations

Demonstrates mastery of the skill

Demonstrates emerging mastery of the skill

Demonstrates competence in the skill

Demonstrates developing competence in the skill

Does not demonstrate evidence of competence

Polished; very few errors or lapses in grammar, vocabulary, or syntax

Polished; minor errors in word choice, grammar or syntax

Sufficient; several errors in word choice, grammar or syntax that do not interfere with overall coherence

Deficient; errors in vocabulary, grammar, or syntax are of such extent that they interfere with overall coherence

Severely deficient; errors in vocabulary, grammar and syntax preclude comprehension

Words you might associate with each letter grade:

A – superior, demonstrates mastery, skillful and facile use of language and the writing process, polished, coherent, consistent, complex, sophisticated, fluent

B – competent, very good, strong, emerging skillfulness, few errors, demonstrates clear understanding

C – average, adequate, meets expectations, completes assignment, sufficient, generally fine, meets minimum standards, room for improvement

D - below average, weak, insufficient, needs improvement, incomplete, lacking in some essential or major way, does not demonstrate understanding or demonstrates flawed understanding

F – no evidence of understanding or effort, very weak, inconsistent, severely flawed, severely lacking, not done, does not have a clear point or purpose, plagiarized(in the case of an essay)

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