Understanding Literature (3) Explores how major fiction, drama, and poetry, past and present, primarily English and American, clarify enduring human values and issues.
ENGL 001 Understanding Literature (3)
(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.
In ENGL 001 students will study a wide variety of genres of literature --- poetry, novel, short story, drama, perhaps even genres like the comic book --- from different time periods and cultures to gain a better understanding of how literature explores human values and issues. These readings will be organized around important issues that relate to each other, or are in tension with each other, such as "Love," "Violence," and "Recuperation," asking basic questions about how the different genres convey meaning, and how they ask significant questions about human relationships and ideals. For instance, readings including works by Toni Morrison, Shakespeare, J. M. Coetzee, August Wilson, Art Spiegelman, selections from each year's new Best American Short Stories, and others might raise questions about volition and responsibility in times of extreme violence (like American slavery, South African apartheid, or the Holocaust), and speak to how we can judge violent acts during violent times, or how love can flourish or languish in the face of such horrors. Throughout the course, students will use the texts to ask such questions as: of what value is a play, a novel, a poem, or a short story? Is literature worthwhile for its ability to tell a good story or for its questions that do not lend themselves to easy answers? Are we "better" for having experienced literature? The course will also take advantage of literary events occurring on campus each semester--such as poetry readings, dramatic performances, even films relating to the course --- to enrich the experience both of literature and of campus life. By addressing issues of contemporary significance, the course will not only prepare students for other literature courses, but will also help them make literature a regular part of their lives. ENGL 001 serves as a bedrock course in the mission of the humanities at Penn State. It prepares students for other academic courses that engage in the verbal and written analysis of complex written texts, and prepares them for other courses that explore human values and social and cultural elaborations of them (for instance, basic philosophy and history courses). Students should expect to complete three exams. The first two will consist of identification questions and short essays, and the third and final exam will be a combination of identification questions and a take-home essay. Moreover students will write at least two papers for the course, demonstrating their abilities at literary analysis, and grappling with the themes of the course. Classroom discussion and general class participation will also be a factor in evaluation. ENGL 001 can be used as a general elective credit toward the major. The course will be offered once or twice a year with 60 seats per offering.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.