Course readings

For Thursday, October 13th (paired with reading on New Historicism in Bressler): Excerpts from the work of Michel Foucault

For Tuesday, September 20, 2011: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Spectacles” (1850) — Please go to the “print this page” link on the left-hand side of the screen and print this story before coming to class. If you do not have access to a printer, please email me ( the night before class and I will print a copy for you.

For Thursday, September 15, 2011: “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”

For Tuesday, September 13, 2011 (reader-reponse) : The One’s Who Walk Away from Omelas, by Ursula K. LeGuin, (Plus the required section Reader-Oriented Criticism in Bressler’s book.)

For September 8, 2011: “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (1955),  a short story by Flannery O’Connor. Also, in addition to this story (and the 150-200 word blog comment)—please read the very short piece in our Literary Criticism book, entitled “The Formalist Critics” (it’s barely eight pages–pp. 246-252), which will help you prepare for Thursday’s discussion.

For September 6, 2011: In addition to the pages from Charles Bressler’s Literary Criticism that appear on your syllabus schedule, please read and be prepared to analyze (in writing) the following poems –by the 19th-century poet Emily Dickinson– from a New Critical or “Formalist” perspective. We wil do this during the second half of Tuesday’s class and I will collect this in-class assignment. While I realize you have only had a brief introduction to New Criticism, the best possible way to become comfortable with how critics emply this approach is to put it to use yourself. The Bressler chapter gives you all the necessary tools you need to create a basic new critical (or formalist) analysis of any or all of the four poems below! If there is language in any of the poems you do not know, please look it up before coming to Tuesday’s class.

I should have been too glad, I see –
Too lifted – for the scant degree
Of Life’s penurious Round –
My little Circuit would have shamed
This new Circumference – have blamed –
The homelier time behind –

I should have been too saved – I see –
Too rescued – Fear too dim to me
That I could spell the Prayer
I knew so perfect – yesterday –
That Scalding One – Sabachthani –
Recited fluent – here –

Earth would have been too much – I see –
And Heaven – not enough for me –
I should have had the Joy
Without the Fear – to justify –
The Palm – without the Calvary –
So Savior – Crucify –

Defeat – whets Victory – they say –
The Reefs – in old Gethsemane –
Endear the Coast – beyond –
‘Tis Beggars – Banquets best define –
‘Tis Thirsting – vitalizes Wine –
Faith bleats to understand –


I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My mind was going numb –

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –


I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –


I like a look of Agony,
Because I know it’s true –
Men do not sham Convulsion,
Nor simulate, a Throe –

The Eyes glaze once – and that is Death –
Impossible to feign
The Beads upon the Forehead
By homely Anguish strung.

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