ENG 010 syllabus

English 010: Foundations of Literary Studies: Reading Frankenstein Two Hundred Years Later

Instructor: Humberto Garcia Office Hours: M: 11:30-12:30; MW 10:00-11:15am W: 12:00-12:30 (by appointment)
Kolligian Library 209 Office: COB-2 # 383
Section 01 E-mail: hgarcia22@ucmerced.edu
Fall 2018

Discussion sections on Friday: section 02, 9:30-10:20am (GRAN 145) and section 03,
10:30-11:20am (Kolligian Library 396)

TA: Zakir Majumder, zmajumder@ucmerced.edu

Office: COB-2, 240B, cubical #6 Office hours: W: 12:30-2:30


“Foundations of Literary Studies” aims to enrich the experience of reading, writing, and reflecting on literature, while seeking to answer these questions: How are words stitched together so as to create “literature?” By what means does a poem, novel, or film make us think ideas and feel pleasure? And what are the tools through which readers are to dissect these artificial creations? This course will look for answers to these questions by investigating one aptly chosen specimen of a living textual corpse—Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). We will read and re-read this classic in the year of its bicentennial (1818-2018), focusing on past critical debates that remain relevant today: empire, racism, slavery, gender inequality, social justice, disability, and climate change. To engage these debates, we will apply a wide variety of critical approaches to literature; the theoretical frameworks by which we bestow value and meaning onto literary texts. The goal of this experiment is to develop your ability to read closely and attentively, think critically and creatively, and write and revise extensively. We will observe how interpretations of Shelley’s novel shift according to different schools of criticism (i.e. formalism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, postcolonial theory, and cultural studies), while adopting an intertextual, historicist approach that considers the influential works of William Godwin (her father) and Percy Shelley (her husband) as well as film adaptations of the novel. By the end of the semester, you will have produced a well-written, well-theorized term paper on this novel or related material and mastered the critical reading skills that will prepare you as an English major or minor.


1. Become familiar with literature as a means of communication and expression.

2. Understand and develop strategies of close-reading as well as of the main movements and tendencies in literary and critical theory.

3. Link, articulate and contextualize the development of critical and interpretive methods to important historical, political, sociological and cultural moments and turns in history.

4. Analyze literary texts methodically and from a theoretical perspective.

5. Apply appropriate terminology and methodologies.

6. Identify and appreciate debates surrounding the politics of interpretation and the place of theory in the analysis of texts.

7. Transfer comprehension of interpretive methods and literary theory in the classroom and discussion to written work.


Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 3rd edition (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016)

Robert Dale Parker, How to Interpret Literature, 3rd edition (Oxford UP, 2015)

Lecture Notes (CatCourses under “Lecture Notes”)

Online Course blog: https://foundationsofliterarystudies.wordpress.com/


“My Hideous Progeny: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein:” http://www.maryshelley.nl/
It includes E-text, biography, links, summaries of plot and characters, and brief notes on contexts.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Chronology & Resource Site (Romantic Circles). http://www.rc.umd.edu/reference/chronologies/mschronology/mws.html Thorough and accurate timeline, texts of early reviews, and a short secondary bibliography.


Grade Percentage:
Weekly blog posts 25%
Creative writing project 10%
Essay #1 15%
Final Term paper 25%
Close reading exercise 10%
Pop reading quizzes 5%
Attendance and Participation 10%
Term Paper Project:

The term paper project involves two phases: (1) You will write a 5-6 page essay on one of the many broad topics that I will distribute ahead of time in class. (2) Based on my feedback, you will revise and expand the first essay into an 9-10 page final paper. Both phases of the project involve critical analysis of a particular theme or idea that appears in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Secondary research is NOT required for the essays, but it is expected that you will adopt a theoretical perspective (or a combination of such perspectives) in your analysis and, if you wish, cite the critical essays covered in class when necessary. However, original and provocative interpretations are foremost. [more information on the term paper project will be distributed later in the semester.]

Close Reading Exercise:

Early in the semester students will write a “close reading” analysis of one out of three specific paragraph (chosen by the instructor) from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This assignment requires that students answer set questions about that specific paragraph first, and then write a short 3-4 pages essay that analyzes it in detail, word-by-word and sentence-by-sentence, based on those answers. [more information on this writing assignment will be distributed later in the semester.]

Weekly Blog Posts:

You are expected to post one blog entry every week on our course site based on assigned readings. I will create a topic along with a question prompt for each week. I encourage you to respond to your peer’s posts, a passage from Frankenstein, or to a current event that is Frankenstein-related. Posts are meant to be informal writing assignments that help generate engaging thoughts (or questions) about anything and everything that occurs to you while reading, as well as help you practice some basic academic writing skills (argumentation, paragraph development, close reading, etc.) They serve as the basis of our class discussions (I will occasionally call on you to share some of your thoughts on it). The posts should be a short paragraph (200-250 words), however they must be written sincerely and thoughtfully. The final blog grade will be based on the average letter grade for all the assigned posts in English 010.

Keep in mind that these blogs will be read by thousands of viewers online, not just by me, your TA, and your peers. Although the blogs should be written informally, they should be well-written and spell-checked, with no grammatical and punctuation errors. Students are required to create tags (as many as you want) for each blog post they submit; untagged blog posts will not receive a grade. The last time you can post on any given week is by the due date, Wednesday 9:00am, unless otherwise noted.

Creative Writing Project:

In the last week of class, students will create their own “Frankenstein myth” for the twenty-first century using poems, plots, images, and other material related to Shelley’s novel in the context of contemporary events, concerns, or ideas. The project will be posted on our course blog. The aim of this project is to draw on the novel’s plot and characters creatively to tell a compelling story about modern events, ideas, or personalities using a combination of media. On the last day of class, select students will volunteer to share their project with the class. [more information on this project will be distributed later in the semester.]

Reading Quizzes:

Lecture may begin with a reading quiz during the first three minutes (please arrive on time). The quizzes test only for basic information. You will be unable to make up quizzes you missed throughout the semester.


Attendance and participation are essential to your success in this course. Arrive to class on time and do not leave early unless you have emailed the instructor in advance with regards to an urgent prior commitment. Try to use the restroom before coming to class. Please do not read other materials during class and bring food into the classroom. If you miss more than two unexcused classes (including section and lecture) in the semester, your participation points will be reduced by half. If you miss more than six classes (including section) during the course of the semester without a valid excuse, you will forfeit your entire participation grade for the course and are in danger of failing the course. If you miss class, you are responsible for speaking with a classmate about the class discussion to get caught up on the material. Missing class will also seriously affect your ability to do well on reading quizzes and writing assignments.

Two significantly late arrivals (or early departures) equal one absence.

Electronics policy: Laptops and other electronic devices are allowed in class, but only for course-related activities. However, I like to foster a classroom environment in which we are engaged in meaningful conversations with each other. For these reasons, I ask that you please print a hard copy of all electronic texts. Please be aware that taping, filming, and photography in class (by camera, cell phone, or any other means) are prohibited.

Excusing Absences:
I may be willing to excuse no more than two absences only in case of serious illness, family emergencies, or religious holidays/events, all of which require actual certified documentation or proof. If you are going to miss lecture/discussion, please e-mail me/your TA before class begins. It is your responsibility to make up missed work or know about any up-coming assignments.
If you must miss a class, please do NOT email me or Zakir to ask what you have missed. It is your responsibility to check-in with us during office hours or a classmate to find out what was covered. You should exchange contact information with at least two of your classmates so that you might contact them should you miss a class.

Top Hat
Attendance, reading quizzes, and discussion points will be recorded in the Top Hat (www.tophat.com) classroom response system. You will be able to submit your unique attendance code and answers to in-class clicker questions using Apple or Android smartphones and tablets, laptops, or through text message. Students will need to answer 80% of their discussion questions to earn full participation credit, regardless of whether the answers are correct, but must be in class to have points for answering clicker questions count. Nevertheless, the quality of oral discussion is also an important factor in determining final participation grades.

You can visit the Top Hat Overview (https://success.tophat.com/s/article/Student-Top-Hat-Overview-and-Getting-Started-Guide) within the Top Hat Success Center which outlines how you will register for a Top Hat account, as well as providing a brief overview to get you up and running on the system.

An email invitation will be sent to you by email, but if don’t receive this email, you can register by simply visiting our course website: https://app.tophat.com/e/331971

Note: our Course Join Code is 331971

Top Hat will require a paid subscription, and a full breakdown of all subscription options available can be found here: http://www.tophat.com/pricing.

Should you require assistance with Top Hat at any time, due to the fact that they require specific user information to troubleshoot these issues, please contact their Support Team directly by way of email (support@tophat.com), the in app support button, or by calling 1-888-663-5491.


Due dates are announced in advance, and I will be sure to give plenty of reminders. All work must be turned in on the due date. For the term paper, half a letter grade will be lost for each day it goes over the due date. Late or missed blog posts will not be accepted. I will consider make-up work only for exceptional circumstances that are brought to my attention at least two weeks in advance of the designated due date.


As a simple guideline, if you submit your own work, you will avoid all serious types of plagiarism. Nevertheless, a responsible student should also consider the less obvious variants of plagiarism, especially when writing research papers that require citations. Consider these examples:

1. Paraphrasing or summarizing a written source, including text from the Internet, without footnoting or otherwise referencing the source.
2. Copying a written source, including text from the Internet, without using quotation marks or block indentation.

For serious instances of plagiarism, such as submitting an essay obtained from an online “paper mill,” students in this course will automatically fail the assignment, receive a final grade of F, and may be recommended for dismissal from the university. I will also regard unattributed citations – verbatim copying of another’s person’s work without some indication of the source – as a serious form of plagiarism. Don’t insert any text in a paper that is not your own without also noting the source.

If you’re uncertain about how to use sources, ask me, your TA, or consult this website: http://guides.library.ucla.edu/bruin-success. It’s your responsibility to comply with the academic honesty policy stated in this website: http://studentconduct.ucmerced.edu/

The same penalties apply to students caught cheating on their reading quizzes and in-class clicker questions.


If there are any issues, problems, or anxieties, either with the course itself or something outside the course, please feel free to talk with me. Any student who feels he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss his or her specific needs. Also contact Disability Services at (209) 228-7884 as soon as possible to become registered and thereby ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.

Also, please be advised that any inappropriate or rude behavior (in person or in writing) directed toward classmates, the instructor, or the TA will result in a prompt dismissal from class and may be cause for formal disciplinary action.

Writing and Learning Help:
The tutors at the Calvin E. Bright Success Center are there to help you. I recommend you take full advantage of their services, for this class as well as all your others. The center is in the Kolligian Library 222. Visit their website to see when writing tutors are available and to make an appointment: http://learning.ucmerced.edu/


Aside from the more specific grading criterion provided in the assignment handout, I have a more general criterion for determining letter grades. As I read your essays, I am looking at five broad areas:

1. Thesis
2. Argument
3. Paragraphs (including introductory and closing paragraph)
4. Style (especially Academic Tone)
5. Mechanics (spelling, punctuation, proofreading)

“A” Range: [A+; A; A-]
An essay in this range will have a strong, clear thesis that demonstrates that the writer has done some thinking on her or his own about the literary text. Evidence (from primary sources) will be well chosen and lucidly and persuasively presented. The title and introductory paragraph will engage the reader’s interest; the conclusion will provide a sense of closure. Transition/topic sentences in each paragraph will signal the progress of the argument and transitions within paragraphs will flow easily. The essay will be technically well written, with few or no typographical errors and few or no problems of diction and punctuation. An “A” or “A+” is reserved only for papers exemplifying depth and originality in argumentation and close reading; a focused thesis that strikes the reader as unexpected or even slightly odd. It will move well beyond the essay prompt to explore the argument’s implications, which will leave the reader asking new and provocative questions about the literary text. “A-” papers meet most of the A-level conditions but have a slight problem in one of the five areas.

“B” Range: [B+; B; B-]
An essay in this range may be less strong in one or more of the five areas, or will be generally competent, but not particularly interesting; this may be the case when the writer hasn’t engaged seriously with the literary text. It may be that the essay is reasonably well written, but seriously misinterprets or misuses a piece of evidence in a way that damages its own case undermining the author’s credibility and control. The essay may present fine ideas but express them so awkwardly that the reader must expend considerable effort simply to follow the argument. “B+” is reserved for a paper that has A-level ambitions but does not achieve them; “B” papers represent commendable work with no major failings, making a clear point without any originality that pushes significant boundaries; a “B-” represents commendable work as well, but with minor problems in one or more of the five areas.

“C” Range: [C+; C; C-]
An essay in this range has a serious problem in one or more of the five areas. An essay without a clear thesis, for example, or one that is simply a summary of the literary text, will not receive a B- grade. The same applies to essays which reproduce long passages from a literary text but doesn’t analyze them as evidence for its argument. A “C+” paper has latent good ideas but needs to foreground those ideas to the center of the paper; a “C” or “C-” paper lacks a strong governing argument, leaving the reader with the lingering “so what?” question.

“D” and “F” Range: [D+; D; D-; F]
An essay in this range has either completely failed to meet all the five broad areas and/or has seriously misunderstood the instructions or purpose to the written assignment. An essay in this range is not considered academic, college level work. A “D” or “D+” paper lacks a thesis and has very few or no good ideas at all, misusing or failing to use textual evidence. It is often full of grammatical, stylistic, and formal problems.

Blog Post Grading Rubric:

Blog posts are evaluated on a letter grade basis. Below is an explanation of what is expected from a post and the letter grade ranges. Blog posts are evaluated according to the following four criteria:

1. Conceptual sophistication
2. Dialogue with readings/other blog posts/current events
3. Artistry of writing
4. Use of medium

“A+ to A-” Range:
These grades are reserved for an assignment that is well-written and concise (with few or no technical errors), establishes specific points, offers a working interpretation, and is not afraid to use creative mediums for self-expression. The main criterion here is originality, defined as a clever idea or question that is surprising, unexpected, and not frequently discussed in class. It involves providing a risky answer that tries to move beyond that which is apparent or obvious. The assignment that is awarded this grade will have no problem identifying and explaining key passages in literary texts.

“B to B+” Range:
This grade is awarded to an assignment that has met most of the conditions mentioned above, but is not particularly well-written or concise and offers a vague interpretation that is not well supported by textual evidence. A blog post that receives a letter grade in this range has done an adequate job of completing the assignment, but has not really offered an original interpretation. Instead, it has provided an obvious or expected viewpoint in an attempt to avoid any risky moves. It will leave the reader with lingering questions about extremely important issues or ideas that were skipped over or given insufficient attention. Overall, this grade will only be awarded to posts that have made a serious and sincere attempt to offer an interpretation, but have avoided any form of daring creativity. In short, a grade in this range means that you have done your job well but still need to improve your interpretation.

“C+ to C” Range:
These grades are awarded only to assignments that seriously misunderstand the post category or question, avoid offering any defined stance, and/or are poorly written. Students seeking shelter in broad generalizations and redundant summaries, without attempting to offer a working interpretation or supporting textual evidence, will be awarded a grade in this range. In short, a “C” or “C-”means that you have not really attempted to do a close reading of a literary text or, if you have tried to do so, that you did not bother to identify, explain, or articulate important ideas. Moreover, those students who do not treat their posts seriously and sincerely will be awarded a grade below a “C-.” By this I mean students who treat their blog posts as “busy” work and make little or no attempt to engage a particular text, question, or idea.
(F = Frankenstein edition; CatCourses, under “files”)

Week 1 (8/22): Introductions

W: Review Course policies/classroom introductions
Discuss myths about “Frankenstein”

Assign first blog category: Frankenstein: the novel vs. the myth

Due next Wednesday (8/29) on Course blog by 9:00am

Week 2 (8/27, 8/29): Reading Frankenstein without “Theory”

M: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (pages 17-131, including Introduction and Preface).
Also read Shelley’s biography in “My Hideous Progeny” website, see
the recommended online texts above.

Lecture Notes #1

W: Finish reading the rest of Frankenstein.

Week 3 (9/3, 9/5): Reading Frankenstein without “Theory”

M: Labor Day Holiday (no class)

W: Parker, Chapter 2, “New Criticism” (11-37) and continue discussing Frankenstein.

Week 4 (9/10, 9/12): Intertextual and Visual Analysis

M: Percy Shelley’s “Mutability” and “Mont Blanc” (handout)
See “How to do a Close Reading of a Poem” (handout)
Romantic landscape paintings (CatCourses).

W: Continue discussing poems and paintings.

Due in Friday’s Discussion section (9/14): Close Reading Exercise (in hard
No blog post due this week.

Week 5 (9/17, 9/19): Marxist and Historicist Criticism

M: Parker, Chapter 8, “Marxism” (220-239)

Lecture Notes #2

W: Warren Montag, The “Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of
Frankenstein (F: 469-480)

Week 6 (9/24, 9/26): Historicist Criticism

M: Debates about the French Revolution: Edmund Burke, selections from Reflections on
the Revolution in France (1790); Mary Wollstonecraft, selections from A Vindication
of the Rights of Men (1790); and selections from William Godwin, Enquiry
Concerning Political Justice (1793) (handouts)

Read “Introduction: Biographical and Historical Contexts” (F: 3-18)

Lecture Notes #3

W: continue with previous readings.

Week 7 (10/1, 10/3): Psychoanalytic Criticism

M: Parker, chapter 5, “Psychoanalysis” (111-130)

Lecture Notes # 4

W: Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny” (CatCourses)

Lecture Notes # 5

Week 8 (10/8, 10/10): Psychoanalytic/Feminist Criticism

M: finish w/ Freud.

W: Parker, “Feminism” (148-165)
Anne K. Mellor, “Frankenstein: A Feminist Critique of Science” (CatCourses)

Assign Essay # 1

Week 9 (10/8, 10/10): Gender and Sexuality Studies

M: finish w/ Mellor.

W: Susan Stryker, “My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix:
Performing Transgender Rage” (CatCourses)

Week 10 (10/15, 10/17): Postcolonial Criticism and Race Studies

M: Parker, chapter 10, “Postcolonial and Race Studies” (285-308)

W: Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of
Imperialism” (CatCourses). Focus on pages 254-59.

Lecture Notes #6

Week 11 (10/22, 10/24): Postcolonial Criticism and Race Studies

M: Finish w/ Spivak. Parker, “Race Studies” (311-323)

W: Allan Lloyd Smith, “‘Things of Darkness’: Racial Discourse in Mary Shelley’s
Frankenstein” (F: 547-567)

Week 12 (11/5, 11/7): Cultural Criticism and Ecocriticism

M: “What is Cultural Criticism?” (481-496)

Lecture Notes #7

W: Siobhan Carroll, “Crusades Against Frost: Frankenstein, Polar Ice, and Climate
Change in 1818.” (F: 502-524)

Week 13 (11/12, 11/14): Cultural Criticism and Ecocriticism

M: Veterans Day Holiday (no class)

W: Finish with Carroll essay

Due in lecture: Essay # 1
Week 14 (11/19, 11/21): Film Studies

M: Watch on your own the 2015 film Frankenstein (stylized as FRANKƐN5TƐ1N),
directed by Bernard Rose.

W: Thanksgiving Holiday Finish w/ Spivak

Week 15 (11/26, 11/28): Film and Disability Studies

M: continue discussing film. Read Parker, Chapter 12, “Disability Studies,” 367-379.

Assign creative writing project.

W: continue discussion of film and Parker reading.

Week 16 (12/3, 12/5): Frankenstein in 2018: Creative Writing Projects

M: Writing Workshop: read and review sample student essay (CatCourses).

W: Creative Writing project due in the Course blog

Term paper final draft due Wednesday 12/12 by 5:00pm on CatCourses Term Paper Assignments tab