ENGL 2150: Literature in 20/21st Century Contexts: The Road to the Apocalypse _ (Fall 2016)


ENGL 2150, Sections 001 and 002: Literature in 20th and 21st Century Contexts


Dr. Jennifer Forsberg

FALL 2016


This course serves as an introduction to major contemporary cultural movements via selected authors in 20th- and 21st-century literature. You will read primarily American and British texts, with special attention to the different textual strategies and forms in poetry, fiction, and drama since World War II. This section, in particular, aims to examine the long twentieth century by tracing the cultural, social, and political “road to the apocalypse,” which exists in both elite and popular literary texts as well as across complex and challenging contexts within popular culture and social folklore.

Course Outcomes and Objectives

The primary objective of sophomore literature classes in the arts and humanities is to provide you with the skills necessary to perform close readings of texts in a variety of genres, including but not limited to poetry, novels, short stories, and plays. By close reading these texts you will not only refine your ability to critically engage with the world, but also enhance your ability to understand diverse rhetorical situations and form substantiated opinions and arguments. Our focus on close reading will make you more confident in your ability to analyze literature, as well as write about literature in both formal (e.g., in written essays and reading responses) and informal ways (e.g., in class discussion, blog posts, etc.).


Eugene Ionesco: Rhinoceros, ISBN-13:978-0802130983

Aldous Huxley: Brave New WorldISBN-13: 978-0060850524

Richard Mattheson: I Am LegendISBN-13: 978-0765357151

Octavia Butler: Parable of the SowerISBN-13: 978-0446675505

Don DeLillo: Falling ManISBN-13: 978-1416546061

Robert Kirkman: The Walking Dead Vol 1ISBN-13: 978-1582406725

Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me GoISBN-13: 978-1400078776

Seth Grahame-Smith: Pride, Prejudice and ZombiesISBN-13: 978-1594743344

Plus supplements and/or readings via Canvas (clemson.instructure.com) and Clemson eReserves (libraries.clemson.edu)




Students are allowed up to THREE (3) absences (excused or unexcused) without penalty. After three absences, your overall grade for the course will be lowered by 5% for each additional absence (documented extended illnesses notwithstanding). These penalties cannot be made up in any way.

Arriving late to class or leaving early is unprofessional and will be factored into the attendance policy. Each recorded instance will count as ONE (1) tardy. Three tardies equal one absence. Any student will be marked absent if you arrive more than 10 minutes after the start of class.

Students with Disabilities

It is university policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities. Students are encouraged to contact Student Disability Services to discuss their individualized needs for accommodation. For more information visit http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/sds/index.html

Accessibility Statement

Clemson University values the diversity of our student body as a strength and a critical component of our dynamic community. Students with disabilities or temporary injuries/conditions may require accommodations due to barriers in the structure of facilities, course design, technology used for curricular purposes, or other campus resources. Students who experience a barrier to full access to this class should let the professor know, and make an appointment to meet with a staff member in Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. You can make an appointment by calling 864-656-6848, by emailing studentaccess@lists.clemson.edu, or by visiting Suite 239 in the Academic Success Center building. Appointments are strongly encouraged – drop-ins will be seen if at all possible, but there could be a significant wait due to scheduled appointments. Students who receive Academic Access Letters are strongly encouraged to request, obtain and present these to their professors as early in the semester as possible so that accommodations can be made in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to follow this process each semester. You can access further information here: http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/sds/.”

Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

The following is Clemson’s official statement on “Academic Integrity”: “As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of this institution as a ‘high seminary of learning.’ Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.”

A simple definition of plagiarism—one that we will expand upon this semester—is when someone presents another person’s words, visuals, or ideas as his/her own. The instructor will deal with plagiarism on a case-by-case basis. The most serious offense within this category occurs when a student copies text from the Internet or from a collective file. This type of academic dishonesty is a serious offense that will result in a failing grade for the course as well as the filing of a formal report to the university.

See the Clemson site below for information about Academic Integrity and procedures regarding the violation of Clemson policies on scholastic dishonesty: http://www.clemson.edu/academics/academic-integrity/

The Writing Center (307 Academic Success Center building)

The Writing Center is a free tutoring service available to the entire student body, regardless of major or academic standing. It provides students opportunities to discuss questions or problems related to academic writing—from generating a topic and thesis to organizing a draft and integrating appropriate citations. The Writing Center’s goal is to help Clemson students become confident and effective writers. You can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting the Writing Center’s website (http://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/writing/), by calling them at 864-656-3280, or by simply stopping in.

Title IX (Sexual Harassment) Statement

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located at http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/access/title-ix/. Mr. Jerry Knighton is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator and is also the Director of Access and Equity. His office is located at 111 Holtzendorrf Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.565.0899 (TDD).

Technology Requirements

This course requires the use of computer technologies in and out of class. Students are expected to bring their laptops to class with batteries fully charged and have a jump drive or other method to file share for peer review. Technology can enhance our study and classroom experience, so please do not abuse it by spending your time on Facebook. Note: I reserve the right to mark students absent for the day if they do not use their technology for the assigned task.

Office Hours

Please note my regular office hours above—feel free to stop by to talk or message me through Canvas during these times. You also can arrange to see me at other times that are mutually convenient. Office hours belong to you just as much as our class time. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of my availability and the help I am ready to offer. Remember: early and proactive communication with me will only benefit you. I am available to answer any questions about your assignments or any content you are struggling with. If you need to contact me outside of class time or office hours, it is best to communicate with me by email.

Due Dates

All assignments are due via Canvas by the start of the specified class meeting unless otherwise specified. Any extensions need to be documented in writing. Late work without a valid excuse will negatively affect your grade. If a paper is submitted after the due date, its lateness will be taken into consideration when assessing the grade. Any penalty incurred will increase over time, so it is to your advantage to submit your work as quickly as possible if you miss a deadline. The instructor determines the validity of excuses for late work, NOT the student.

All work may be turned in early for evaluation and/or pre-planned absences. Periodically, the instructor might revise the tentative course schedule; students are responsible for documenting any formally announced changes in the schedule.


I may elect to give quizzes on the readings and class discussions/lectures if I feel that all students are not completing the assigned work satisfactorily. The best way to avoid quizzes is to complete the assignments and participate in the class discussions.

Grading Policy

Writing assignments will be graded on the strength of the argument, the structure in which that argument is conveyed, the use of evidence to support the argument, and the clarity of the essay’s style.

  • A: Outstanding or Superior. Contains an insightful thesis; offers an exceptionally well- developed argument in every paragraph. Provides an excellent interpretation and analysis of the material, with an accomplished formal organization. Presents material in a fresh and exciting way.
  • B: Excellent or Very Good. Contains a discernable thesis; offers a well-developed argument in most paragraphs. Provides a commendable interpretation that is well reasoned in most of its evidence and analysis; presents a clearly organized paper with a minimum of errors in its formal structure. Fulfills requirements.
  • C: Satisfactory. Contains a vague thesis or one that is too broad, general, or banal; lacks logical development or good reasoning in places. Provides a good interpretation of the topic, with average (i.e., somewhat general, broad, and predictable) handling of the evidence and analysis; exhibits several problems in the organization of the paper. Fulfills all requirements of the assignment.
  • D: Unsatisfactory. Contains no thesis; falls short on one or more of the assignment requirements; provides a weak interpretation, insufficient evidence, and/or poor analysis; demonstrates poor handling of the formal aspects of the paper.


PLEASE NOTE: ALL assignments must be in an ELECTRONIC format. Discussions should be copied and pasted, but all other work needs to be uploaded to Canvas with a file name LastName_Assignment.docx (or pdf). For example: Forsberg_ShortResponse2.pdf. However, I may also ask that some assignments be turned in to me in hard copy or brought to class, and will give advance notice in those situations.

In-Class Attendance, Participation and the Occasional Quiz

It is imperative to the success of this course that you come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings. To earn full points for attendance and participation you must not only arrive and leave on time, but also have your texts with you, be prepared for that day’s tasks, and contribute to class discussions. This constitutes 25% of your total course grade, and includes any quizzes that may be given.

Canvas Discussion Boards

I will split the class into two groups (Walkers and Rangers), and based on that group you will be assigned 10 posts on Canvas. You will be required to either post a strong, contextualized question about the most recent reading(s), or post a thoughtful and evidence-supported answer to a question. For example: Week 2 Group Walker will post a question by the start of class Wednesday, and Group Ranger will pose an answer to one of those questions by the start of class Friday. The next week the order will switch. These informal writings and collaborations are important ways to stimulate discussion for class, and more importantly help you develop ideas for your reading responses. It is also a place to refine how you understand concepts, texts, and the overall course. Because your classmates rely on your participation, late posts (same day) will earn partial credit, but posts more than 24 hours late will earn no credit. Each graded response will earn up to 2% of your total grade, resulting in a total of 20%.

Short Writing Responses

3 times during the course you will construct a focused and concise reading response (about 300 words) that argues an original interpretation of 1-2 texts by supporting an argument with quoted evidence, close reading, and focused development. These need to be in MLA format and include in-text citations and a works cited for full points. You will receive thoughtful and timely feedback on each response so that you may improve your critical reading and writing at each stage. Response 1 is worth 4% of your grade, response 2 is worth 6%, and response 3 is worth 10%.

Current Events Long Paper

This paper requires you to find and analyze a contemporary “current event” (within the last 16 months) in a credible newspaper or journal (minimum 500 words). This article should help you synthesize a conversation related to this course and our selected texts by offering a perspective that bridges the literary world with the material world. Your essay of 1000 words should use a minimum of two texts from the course to “read” the article you find (or vice-versa), and argue that it promotes understanding of 20th and 21st century contexts. You must use MLA format, include in-text citations, a works cited, and attach a PDF of the article for full points. The long paper is worth 20% of your total grade. In addition, you can earn 1.5% for each in-class workshop (source eval and peer review) leading up to the Long Paper for a total of 3%.

Final Exam

We will have a cumulative final exam with two short-essay questions you will receive in advance. You may not bring in an outline or prewritten answers to the exam, but will prepare and bring in a printout of selected quotations and their citations for use during the exam. These quotations must be submitted with your blue-book exam. This exam is worth 12% of your total grade.



I reserve the right to change the syllabus. In this event, you will be notified prior to the dates in question.

Notes: Aug. 17: Classes Begin | Aug. 23: Last day to register or add a class | Aug. 30: Last day to drop or withdraw from the University without a W (withdraw) grade


In Class Homework
Wednesday, August 17, 2016 Intro to course, assignments, instructor, students Respond to the Canvas Discussion board: Why are we fascinated with post-apocalyptic culture and things like zombies today?
Friday, August 19, 2016 Discuss Canvas postings; Close-read images and examine a constellation of issues to watch.


Split into groups: Walkers and Rangers

Read E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” (on Canvas Pages)
Monday, August 22, 2016 Discuss Forster; Consider early contexts and genre conventions
Tomorrow is the last day to register or add a class.
Read H.P. Lovecraft’s “Herbert West—Reanimator” (on Canvas Pages).


Group Walker: post a question to Canvas Discussions by the start of next class.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 Discuss Lovecraft Group Ranger: post an answer to Walker’s questions by the start of next class.
Friday, August 26, 2016 In-Class Activity: Read Yeats’ “The Second Coming” (on Canvas Pages); close reading exercise Read Huxley’s Brave New World (first half).
Monday, August 29, 2016 Discuss Huxley (first half)
Tomorrow is the last Day to drop a class without a W grade.
Finish reading Huxley for Wednesday


Group Ranger: Post a question to Canvas Discussions by the start of next class.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 Discuss Huxley (second half) Group Walker: Post an answer to Ranger’s questions by the start of next class.
Friday, September 2, 2016 In-Class Activity: Developing Short Responses, Writing Instruction and Refining Arguments about Literature Work on reading response 1, due Monday 9/5


Read T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” (on Canvas Pages).

Monday, September 5, 2016 Reading Response 1 Due


Discuss Eliot

Read Clarke’s “History Lesson” (on Canvas Pages)
Wednesday, September 7, 2016 Discuss Clarke Read Ginsberg’s “Howl” and “America” (link on Canvas Pages)
Friday, September 9, 2016 Discuss Ginsberg; postwar radicalism Read Larkin “This Be the Verse” and “Aubade” (on Canvas Pages)
Monday, September 12, 2016 Discuss Larkin; postwar cynicism Read Matheson I Am Legend (first half)


Group Walker: post a question to Canvas Discussions by the start of next class.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 Discuss Matheson (first half)


Finish Matheson (second half)


Group Ranger: post an answer to Walker’s questions by the start of next class.

Friday, September 16, 2016 Discuss Matheson (second half); consider alternate endings and historical interpretations


Work on reading response 2, due Monday 9/19


Read Ishiguro Never Let Me Go (first third)


Monday, September 19, 2016 Reading Response 2 Due


Discuss Ishiguro (first third)

Read Ishiguro (second third)


Group Ranger: Post a question to Canvas Discussions by the start of next class.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016 Discuss Ishiguro (second third) Finish Ishiguro


Group Walker: Post an answer to Ranger’s questions by the start of next class.


Friday, September 23, 2016 Discuss Ishiguro Read Komunyakaa (selections on eReserves)
Monday, September 26, 2016 Discuss Komunyakaa Read Orson Scott Card’s “West” (on eReserves)


Start Reading Butler’s Parable of the Sower

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 Discuss Card Read JG Ballard. Cont. Reading Butler
Friday, September 30, 2016 Discuss Ballard Cont. Reading Butler
Monday, October 3, 2016 Discuss Butler (first third) Finish Butler


Group Walker: post a question to Canvas Discussions by the start of next class.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016 Cont. to discuss Butler (second third) Write Reading Response 3, due Friday 10/7


Group Ranger: post an answer to Walker’s questions by the start of next class.

Friday, October 7, 2016 Cont. to discuss Butler



 Work on Reading Response 3
Monday, October 10, 2015 Reading Response 3 Due

The Mad Max Franchise:

Examining the post-apocalyptic, post-colonial text

Read McCarthy’s The Road (excerpt on eReserves)


Group Ranger: Post a question to Canvas Discussions by the start of next class.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 Discuss McCarthy, style and form Group Walker: Post an answer to Ranger’s questions by the start of next class.


Start Reading Delillo’s Falling Man

Friday, October 14, 2016 Discuss Delillo Cont. Reading Delillo
Monday, October 17, 2016 Cont. to discuss Delillo Finish Delillo
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 Cont. to discuss Delillo Begin looking for a credible article for the Long Paper
Friday, October 21, 2016 In-Class Activity: Finding and Evaluating Sources Read 9/11 Poetry Selection #1 (on Canvas Pages)
Monday, October 24, 2016 Discuss 9/11 Poetry Selections #1 Select on an article for the Long Paper, bring PDF or hard copy to class Wednesday
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 In-Class Activity: Bring Your Credible Article for Peer Workshop Read 9/11 Poetry Selections #2 (on Canvas Pages)
Friday, October 28, 2016 Discuss 9/11 Poetry Selections #2 Read Kirkman’s The Walking Dead Vol. 1
Monday, October 31, 2016 Discuss Kirkman Start Drafting Long Paper


Group Walker: post a question to Canvas Discussions by the start of next class.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016 Cont. to discuss Kirkman;


In-Class Activity: Examine media interpretations; study visual rhetoric and narrative form.


Group Ranger: post an answer to Walker’s questions by the start of next class.


Friday, November 4, 2016 In-Class Comparative Exercise: The Walking Dead Cont. Drafting long paper
Monday, November 7, 2016 FALL BREAK Finish Drafting Long Paper
Wednesday, November 9, 2016 In-Class Activity: Peer Review of Long Paper Draft; Revision Strategies Read Ionesco’s Rhinoceros


Revise Long Paper

Friday, November 11, 2016 Discuss Ionesco Cont. Reading Ionesco


Revise Long Paper

Monday, November 14, 2016 Cont. to discuss Ionesco Group Ranger: Post a question to Canvas Discussions by the start of next class.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016 In-Class Activity: Absurdity and Pop-Cultural Interpretations Read Brooks World War Z (excerpt on eReserves)


Group Walker: Post an answer to Ranger’s questions by the start of next class.

Friday, November 18, 2016 Discuss Brooks Finalize Long Paper
Monday, November 21, 2016 Long Paper Due


In-Class Activity: Small Group Conclusions About Current Events and 20/21st Century Literature

Read Grahame-Smith’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies for return from holiday on Monday, 11/28
Wednesday, November 23, 2016 THANKSGIVING HOLIDAYS
Friday, November 25, 2016 THANKSGIVING HOLIDAYS Finish Pride, Prejudice and Zombies for Monday 11/28
Monday, November 28, 2016 Discuss Grahame-Smith (all)
Wednesday, November 30, 2016 In-Class Activity: Conclusions and concept mapping through the century; Multimedia saturation.  Review course trajectory: what is the narrative of the 20/21st century?
Friday, December 2, 2016 Last day of class! Course evaluations and Final Exam discussion, preparations.  Prepare for the final exam on ______________ at ________________.