Intro to Lit

Introduction to Literature

“In dreams begin responsibilities,” says an old proverb, quoted by the modern Irish poet W.B. Yeats; and later, by the American short story writer, Delmore Schwartz. So the epigram, sourced in dream, is handed down through generations and cultures as a responsibility. Literature courses are poised between dream and responsibility. By reading, we plunge into the dream. By gathering to discuss our dreams we take on responsibilities—to ourselves, to our classmates, and to the intellectual and cultural traditions created by the dreams we read and the relationships we cherish. This course will offer the chance to read a wide variety of poetry and prose, from the 6 th century B.C. to modern time, and to respond to those works, in writing and discussion, to enhance our appreciation and understanding of the double-world, of dreams and responsibilities, in which we live.


Students will read all the required texts and one recommended text, complete all class assignments, and demonstrate mastery by passing two exams covering all the course texts, lectures, and discussions and writing a review of a recommended text. You must also prepare for and participate in all classes. You may miss three classes during the semester without penalty; however, you are responsible for all assignments and readings covered during your absence.


Robert Hass (ed), The Essential Haiku; Ron Hansen (ed), You’ve Got To Read This; Homer, The Odyssey (Fagle’s Translation); Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Maggie Anderson, Windfall; X.J.Kennedy, Dark Horses; Kim Stafford, A Thousand Friends of Rain


Week One: Course Introduction; The Essential Haiku

Week Two: The Essential Haiku

Week Three: The Essential Haiku

Week Four: The Odyssey

Week Five: The Odyssey

Week Six: The Odyssey; A Thousand Friends of Rain; (Kim Stafford reading)

Week Seven: The Odyssey; Dark Horses (X.J.Kennedy reading)

Week Eight: The Odyssey; mid-term exam

Week Nine: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Week Ten: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Week Eleven The Unbearable Lightnesss of Being; Windfall (Maggie Anderson reading)

Week Twelve: You’ve Got to Read This

Week Thirteen: You’ve Got to Read This

Week Fourteen: You’ve Got to Read This

Week Fifteen: You’ve Got to Read This