English 1102: Composition II

Game, Puzzle, Paradox: An Introduction to Interpretation
Spring 2005

Contact Information:

Jonathan Goodwin
School of Literature, Communication, & Culture
Office: Skiles 307
Office Hours: MWF 11:00-11:50 (and by appointment)
Office Phone: 404.894.7626
Email: jonathan.goodwin@lcc.gatech.edu
Course Web Site: http://www.lcc.gatech.edu/~goodwin/s05/1102.html

Course Description:

Departmental Description

English 1102 is a writing-intensive composition course that aims to develop students'

  1. written and oral communication skills through a variety of formal and informal writing and presentation assignments
  2. critical reading of literary and film texts, practices, and material objects through a cultural studies perspective
  3. expertise in conducting research through sustained semester-long research projects
  4. proficiency in electronic writing environments
The aim of English 1102 is to teach students to write effectively and to conduct literary analysis and research. In this course students develop their critical and rhetorical writing practices and skills within an interdisciplinary, technology-infused curricula. To support this goal, instructors sustain student-centered and student-initiated collaborative learning environments supported by the integral use of educational technologies to develop critical communication skills. In English 1102, students investigate the methodologies and theoretical assumptions underlying cultural studies, while creating a diverse body of electronic and conventional writing to reflect on the principles and modalities of the writing-process. Maintaining both virtual and conventional educational learning environments, instructors work to expand the boundaries of the traditional classroom and provide dynamic contexts to facilitate the students' investigation of the disciplinary and rhetorical objectives of the English 1102 curriculum. Upon completion of the course, students should be familiar with writing and research fundamentals and with literary and cultural analysis and critique.

Game, Puzzle, Paradox: An Introduction to Interpretation

Understanding something you read is very much like solving a puzzle. Most puzzles have recognizable and unambiguous solutions, however. Literary and cultural texts do not. There are always historical and social gaps between the reader and text, and we must fill these gaps with our own identities. Your image of Hamlet was not your teachers', your parents', or Shakespeare's, though the words which invoked it were unchanged. And our identities are built upon emotions and memories, not logic. To understand art completely, you would have to become its creator. This and other paradoxes of interpretation are very old, and little progress has been made in understanding them. This course will gently introduce you to the methods of and debates about literary and cultural interpretation through the reading of texts that are either notoriously ambiguous (Turn of the Screw), fraught with deliberate paradox (Ficciones), or that explore the concept of the game as metaphor for life and the meaning we make of it (eXistenZ and The Glass Bead Game).

Required Texts:

The books will be available from the Engineers' Bookstore. You should purchase a copy of eXistenZ on your own. We will not screen it in class.

Assignments Overview and Grading Distribution:

Software/Computing Resources and Requirements:

You will be expected to have internet access for on-line discussions and to retrieve assignments.


I expect you to come to every class on time with your reading, written, and online assignments completed and prepared to participate in class discussions and group work. If a reading is available on-line, you must print it out and bring it with you (any exceptions I will let you know about beforehand). You are allowed up to three unexcused absences over the course of the semester. After that, each absence will lower your participation grade considerably. Every three tardies will count as an unexcused absence. Legitimate emergencies should be discussed with me on a case-by-case basis.

Office Hours and Communication:

Office hours are for you. Please do not hesitate to come and talk with me about whatever is on your mind about the course. Students who come to office hours regularly are uniformly more successful than those who do not (this is also true of most college courses, I believe). If you cannot make my regular hours, please see me after class or send me an email to make an appointment. I am most easily reached via email, and I will make every effort to respond to your emails with alacrity.


Academic Honesty:

All work you turn in for this class must be your own work, with all outside reference sources properly cited and acknowledged. All written assignments for this course will be turned in through the anti-plagiarism program "Turn It In."

The "Student Conduct Code of the Rules and Regulations" (Georgia Institute of Technology General Catalog, Section XIX) states that "academic misconduct is an act that does or could improperly distort student grades or other student academic records" and offers the following descriptive list:

The Code also notes that "while these acts constitute assured instances of academic misconduct, other acts of academic misconduct may be defined by the professor." Consult the Honor Code online at http://www.honor.gatech.edu or in the General Catalog for more information. Students who engage in academic dishonesty may receive no credit for the assignment or fail the course. In addition, the instance will be reported to the Dean of Students who may take further action.

Students with Disabilities:

Any student who feels that he/she may need an accommodation for any sort of disability, please make an appointment to see the instructor during office hours. Students with disabilities should also contact Access Disabled Assistance Program for Tech Students (ADAPTS) to discuss reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor call (404) 894-2564 (voice) / (404) 894-1664 (voice/TDD) or visit Suite 210 in the Smithgall Student Services Building. For more information visit the following website: http://www.adapts.gatech.edu.


(NB: This is tentative, and "flex days" signify class days that are open in case we fall behind or need them for something else. I will advise you about what will happen on those days in advance.)

Section I: Puzzle

Week One
M 1/10: Course Introduction
W 1/12: Course Introduction (cont.)
F 1/14: "How I Lost the Second World War and Helped Turn Back the German Invasion," Gene Wolfe (handout)

Week Two
M 1/17: MLK Day--No Class
W 1/19: "To the Seventh," Gene Wolfe (handout)
F 1/21: Flex Day

Week Three
M 1/24:Turn of the Screw
W 1/26: Discussion (cont.)
F 1/28: Discussion (cont.)

Week Four
M 1/31: Discussion (cont.)
W 2/2: Discussion (cont.)
F 2/4: Discussion (cont.)

Week Five
M 2/7: Analytic Paper Discussion
W 2/9: Peer Review
F 2/11: Analytic Paper Due. Introduction to Borges

Section II: Paradox

Week Six
M 2/14: "Tlön Uqbar, Orbis Tertius"
W 2/16: "The Approach to Al-Mu-tasim," "Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote"
F 2/18: "The Circular Ruins"

Week Seven
M 2/21: "The Babylon Lottery"
W 2/23: "An Examination of the Works of Herbert Quain"
F 2/25: "The Library of Babel"--Research Proposals Due

Week Eight
M 2/28: "The Garden of Forking Paths"
W 3/2: "Funes, the Memorious"
F 3/4: "The Form of the Sword," "Theme of the Traitor and the Hero"

Week Nine
M 3/7: "Death and the Compass," "The Secret Miracle,"
W 3/9: "Three Versions of Judas," "The End"
F 3/11: "The Sect of the Phoenix," "The South"

Section III: Game

Week Ten
M 3/14: eXistenZ
W 3/16: Discussion (cont.)
F 3/18: Flex Day

Week Eleven
M 3/21: Spring Break (Begin reading Hesse)
W 3/23: "
F 3/25: "

Week Twelve
M 3/28: The Glass Bead Game
W 3/30: Discussion (cont.)
F 4/1: Discussion (cont.)

Week Thirteen
M 4/4: Discussion (cont.)
W 4/6: "
F 4/8: "

Week Fourteen
M 4/11: "
W 4/13: "
F 4/15: Flex Day

Week Fifteen
M 4/18: Group Projects
W 4/20: "
F 4/22: "

Week Sixteen
M 4/25: Research Paper Conferences
W 4/27: "
F 4/29: Research Paper Due