Eric Rabkin F 12

001 1401 Mason Hall TTh 4:10-5:30


3243 Angell Hall
TWTh 3:10-4:00, & by appt
esrabkin@umich.edu & 764-2553

David Hornibrook      

5207 Angell Hall
M 3-5



Course Grade

Written Work

One-Page Papers

Longer Papers


Online Resources


Supplementary Materials

Disablity Accommodations
Class mail group: fantasyf12@ctools.umich.edu


What is fantasy, in our literature and in ourselves? This course will explore the nature and uses of fantastic narratives from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present, drawing texts from such widely different fields as fairy tale, science fiction, and the so-called New Novel. No special background in literature is required for registration, but we will begin immediately to consider broad concepts of art and analysis that should help increase understanding and enjoyment of the books and develop ourselves as imaginative and incisive thinkers.  The course requires attendance at two lecture/discussion sections per week. The written work for the course will revolve around a series of short papers and two medium-length papers and will proceed on a contract-like basis as described later in this document. There will be no exams. Underclasspersons may register for the course, but it is intended primarily for upperclasspersons. Except as noted by the word "selections," each book is to be read in its entirety by the date noted in the calendar below:

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 09-Oct-2012 11:55:54 EDT .


 T 9/4



 Th 9/6   Varieties of the Fantastic

 T 9/11


The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1812-1815), Bantam, selections

 T 9/18


Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1809-1822), U Chicago Pr, selections

 T 9/25


The Portable Poe (1835-1849), Penguin, selections

 T 10/2


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (1865, 1872), Lewis Carroll, Signet

 T 10/9


The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), Signet +
The Invisible Man (1897), Signet + Short stories: selections, H.G. Wells

 T 10/16 (6) Study break; The Complete Stories (c. 1915), Franz Kafka, Schocken, selections
 W 10/17   Turn in Kafka paper as an attachment to email sent to David Hornibrook by 10:00 a.m.

 T 10/23


Orlando (1928), Virginia Woolf, Harcourt

 T 10/30


The Erasers (1953), Alain Robbe-Grillet, Grove
Last day when Longer Paper 1 Proposal may be approved

 T 11/6


The Tolkien Reader (1949-1964), Ballantine, selections
Deadline for Longer Paper 1 (4:10 p.m.)

 T 11/14


The Phantom Tollbooth (1961), Norton Juster, Random House

 T 11/20


Cosmicomics (1965), Italo Calvino, Harcourt Brace

 T 11/27


Woman on the Edge of Time (1976), Marge Piercy, Fawcett
Last day when Longer Paper 2 Proposal may be approved

 T 12/4


Like Water for Chocolate (1989), Laura Esquivel, Anchor

 Th 12/6   Postmodernism and the Fantastic
 T 12/11   Last lecture class day: course summary
Deadline for Longer Paper 2 (4:10 p.m.)
 Th 12/13   No final exam. To retrieve uncollected papers, either see your discussion leader or leave a stamped, self-addressed envelope in your discussion leader's mailbox by this date at 10:00 a.m.
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"Time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana."--Anonymous

English 341 Written Work F 12

There are thirteen possible One-Page Papers and two Longer (three-to-four page) Papers in this course. Most students will write at least nine One-Page Papers and both Longer Papers. Every student is required to write at least four One-Page Papers and at least one Longer Paper. All papers should conform to the format requirements below and employ simple, clear citation whenever citation is appropriate.
See also:
Some Questions for Active Reading.
Five Ways of Looking at a Thesis.
Writing Samples for Use of Evidence
Logic and Literary Argument.
Expanded discussion of paper formats and notes.
Using Outside Sources.
A Note on the Forms of Literary Argument.
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ONE-PAGE PAPERS: Each paper should aim to enrich the reading of an intelligent senior in the class. This means that you should read the books with care, annotating as you go, and looking for matters that particularly interest you. When you finish this first reading, review the text and your annotations, seeking a better understanding of some aspect of the text. This might be the significance of an image, the nature of a given character, the structure of the narration, the revelation of theme, the importance of some feature of style, or any other literary matter that you believe is worthy of your extra attention. Generate a hypothesis concerning this matter. Test it against the text in order to confirm it, modify it, or discard it as necessary. Once you have a hypothesis you believe would be valuable to a classmate who had also read the book but had happened to be working on another aspect of it, draft your paper so as to present that hypothesis clearly and persuasively. Where appropriate, paraphrase and/or quote from the text. Use page references in parentheses. Do not, however, make your paper mere summary. The intelligent senior already knows what happened in the book; you are trying to add to this knowledge by revealing the significance and/or subtlety of the book's meaning or technique. Reread your draft with the eyes of a potentially dissenting reader and revise to meet any legitimate objections. The resulting second (or third?) draft will not only capture part of your own understanding of the book but will bring you to class well prepared to participate in discussion and to understand the full significance of what others say. The discipline of this type of assignment will not only help you get the most from the books but will greatly sharpen your reading and writing skills.

Each of these papers should be between 270 and 320 words in length. No paper will be acceptable if it exceeds those limits. Papers must fit on one double-spaced typed page maximum. Longer papers will be unacceptable. Papers should have a heading in the upper right-hand corner that includes your name, the course number, the paper due date, the reading number from the course calendar (e.g, "Reading 3"), and the word count (e.g, "295 words"). Each paper is due at the beginning of class on the day a given book is to have been read. Late papers usually will be unacceptable and early papers are strongly discouraged because your attendance in class is expected. These weekly papers will be read and commented on and returned at the end of the next class meeting so that through them we can all maintain a second sort of interchange from that in class. In addition, I encourage you to speak with me freely about the course and your work in it, be that about the reading, the writing, or the subject in general, either after class each day, during office hours, or via electronic mail.

The majority of the papers in any given week should be acceptable. These written assignments are based on the assumption that intelligent people giving regular, informed, and honest attention to reading and writing will do both these related things progressively better. In addition, as issues, background, and critical frameworks are developed in lecture, the students in the class will become ever more sophisticated. Therefore, as the semester goes on the criteria for acceptability–for enriching the reading of the intelligent senior in the class–will rise.

These papers will not be letter graded but merely marked with a check to indicate acceptable fulfillment of the assignment. Papers not submitted receive no credit. Papers that seem to be seriously attempted but that are judged unacceptable will be taken to have earned three-tenths of a check. These partial checks add to your total One-Page Paper writing score.

Each student will be allowed to rewrite up to two unacceptable One-Page Papers for credit if s/he so wishes and if I agree that the first submission shows serious effort and contains at least the germ of a tenable thesis. To get revision permission, see me for a discussion of that first submission. If revision is permitted, revise on the basis of that discussion, turning in the revision stapled to the earlier version exactly one week after the original paper's return date.

Each student must earn a One-Page Paper writing score of at least four in order to pass the course. Students may submit as many One-Page Papers as they like, up to the full available set of thirteen, one for each week’s assigned reading. However, no student may count more than nine checks earned on One-Page Papers toward the course check total.
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LONGER (THREE-TO-FOUR PAGE) PAPERS: Longer Paper 1 is an essay in contrast and comparison. Longer Paper 2 is an essay in generalization. Like all the One-Page Papers, both Longer Papers should aim to enrich the reading of an intelligent senior in the class. Longer Paper 1 focuses on two readings, one by each of two authors, and need not necessarily mention any other readings. Longer Paper 2 should mention as many readings as its subject requires but must focus on at least two readings, at least one each by at least two authors. Each Longer Paper must focus on at least one reading for which you are not asking credit for discussion on a One-Page Paper or your other Longer Paper. This requirement is intended to enforce writing on a broad sample of our works. In your header, record the calendar week number of the reading you wish to have recorded as fulfilling this breadth requirement; for example, "Record #3." If you have already written a paper on the reading for week 3, I will withdraw credit earned for that paper and add credit earned for the new Longer Paper. (Expanded discussion of longer-paper credit-recording process and rationale)

The topics for these papers should be developed with my help. For each Longer Paper, write a Longer Paper proposal indicating both (a) the question you intend to explore or the thesis you hope to test and (b) the texts on which you expect to focus. Feel free to add further details to these proposals if you wish, such as your motivation for choosing a particular topic or text or the particular aspects of the texts that you intend to examine with extra care or even a tentative outline. These proposals should serve as the basis for one—and often more than one—discussion with me. Once we both feel that the proposed study offers a good likelihood of success, I will sign your proposal. The signed proposal should be attached to the finished essay when it is submitted.

For the purposes of this course, three-to-four pages means 675 to 900 words printed double-spaced on three or four pages. Papers outside these limits will be unacceptable. Longer Papers should have a heading in the upper right-hand corner that includes your name, the course number, the paper submission date (not the due date), the reading number for credit, and the word count. Subsequent pages should have a running head with your name on the left and the date and page number on the right.

 Longer Paper 1, an essay in contrast and comparison, may take up any topic that can be fruitfully illuminated by putting two works side by side. You can explore any of the matters that would be fit for a One-Page Paper but here you can begin to see how those matters take on special significance in special contexts. This should not be simply two One-Page Papers strung together. Also, the paper should not be mere contrast-and-comparison. A well achieved essay will always, of course, have a clear thesis.

 Longer Paper 2, an essay in generalization, may take up any topic that can be fruitfully illuminated by considering whole classes of literary works. Although these papers should focus on at least two works in the course by at least two different authors, they are not mere contrast/comparison exercises; rather, they are attempts to discover and convey more or less general literary laws. Examples of such laws will be presented in class and you are encouraged to raise general speculations in class for open discussion. Although in this paper you may choose to focus on only two works, your paper must recognize that the intelligent senior may be aware of other works in the course relevant to your thesis. Thus, a successful essay here will not only have a clear thesis but will explore that thesis with the knowledge that its readers may be questioning it in light of diverse texts. For this reason, it is especially important that the Longer Paper proposal development process be given adequate lead time for this paper.

Deadlines for the Longer Paper proposals to be accepted and signed are on the course calendar as are the deadlines for submitting the Longer Papers. Late submissions will be acceptable only in extraordinary circumstances and with acceptable documentation of those circumstances.

Each Longer Paper, if judged acceptable in enriching the reading of an intelligent senior in the class, will receive three checks. Papers not submitted receive no credit. Papers that seem to be seriously attempted but that are judged unacceptable will be taken to have earned one check. Each student will be allowed to rewrite Longer Paper 1 for credit if s/he so wishes and if I agree that the first submission shows serious effort and contains at least the germ of a tenable thesis. To get revision permission, see me for a discussion of that first submission. If revision is permitted, revise on the basis of that discussion, turning in the revision stapled to the earlier version exactly one week after the original paper's return date. Longer Paper 2 may not be revised. In addition to discussing the required Longer Paper proposals, I encourage you to discuss early outlines and drafts of both Longer Papers with me.

Each student must earn a Longer Paper writing score of at least two in order to pass the course.
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PLAGIARISM: I endorse the standard definitions of plagiarism: "submitting a piece of work (for example an essay, research paper, assignment, laboratory report) which in part or in whole is not entirely the student's own work without attributing those same portions to their correct source" (LSA Bulletin, 1993-1994, p. 44); "the appropriation or imitation of the language, ideas, and thoughts of another author, and representation of them as one's original work" (Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged edition, 1966). With the exception of knowledge which is demonstrably common (for example, 2 + 2 = 4) or whose source is demonstrably well known (for example, "To be or not to be"), material submitted without citation is normally presumed to have originated with the submitter. Therefore, work or parts of a work submitted without citation will be construed as having been submitted as originating with the submitter. If it appears that uncited work did not originate with the submitter, the work will be turned over to the appropriate College authorities for their determination as to whether or not plagiarism has occurred. LSA exacts diverse penalties for plagiarism, up to and including permanent expulsion from the University. Plagiarism, then, is a deeply serious matter. It strikes at the core values of an institution designed to promote individual achievement in large part through the free and honest exchange of ideas among us all. I welcome all efforts you may make to learn. It is quite normal, for example, to talk with colleagues about one's ideas and to consult such secondary sources as language dictionaries, symbol dictionaries, bibliographies, biographies, concordances, and so on. It is less usual among undergraduates to consult secondary sources such as critical articles, but such consultation is certainly legitimate. However, remember that the aims of the writing assignments are (a) to prepare you for class; (b) to make you a better reader; (c) to make you a better writer; and (d) to make your own contribution to the education of the intelligent senior in the class. In order to achieve those aims, you must do original work. (English Department Plagiarism Policy)
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PARTICIPATION: Your attendance in class and contribution to class are expected both for the sake of what you can gain and for the sake of what you can contribute to the group as a whole. If on any given Tuesday you are not submitting an essay at the beginning of class, please submit a discussion prompt. Like creating an essay, creating a prompt should help sharpen your thinking in preparation for class. A prompt could be a question about some aspect of the reading that you believe would be illuminating to address or a suggestion about some topic that you feel may bear importantly on the reading or the course at that point. The prompt, whenever possible, should make specific reference to the week's reading, even giving quotations if appropriate. A prompt may be only a sentence or two but should be submitted on a single printed page with a heading in the upper right-hand corner giving your name, the course number, and the date of submission. Like essays, prompts will be returned to you at the next class. Also like essays, prompts will help me know what issues matter to you so that I can adjust our class meetings accordingly. Your participation matters. Most people in the class will receive a check for participation. In very rare cases, someone may receive two checks. However, a participation grade can be zero or even negative. One cannot participate if one does not attend. Students with two unexcused absences will be awarded no participation checks. Students with three or more unexcused absences will be docked at least one check. If absence is unavoidable, please provide documentation of the reason for it. In the case of an excused absence, no prompt need be submitted but, if you like, feel free to email me the prompt before our Thursday class. (Policies on Excused Absences; A Note on Irregular Submission of Work)
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COURSE GRADE: The final grade is calculated as a direct translation of the course check total, which is the sum of the One-Page Paper total, the Longer Paper total, and the Participation grade. As noted above, a failure to earn a minimum of at least four One-Page Paper checks or two Longer Paper checks will result in automatic failure. A student with that 6 check minimum will receive a D- in the course. Beyond that, the course grade reflects the course check total: 7 = D, 8 = D+, 9 = C-, 10 = C, 11 = C+, 12 = B-, 13 = B, 14 = B+, 15 = A-, 16 = A, 17 = A+. A student in this course may choose to earn any grade s/he wishes. No one will be penalized for a failure to submit more papers than those necessary to earn the minimum number of checks required to pass the course. A disciplined student who submits nine acceptable One-Page Papers and two acceptable Longer Papers and has acceptable Participation will earn an A. A student taking the course pass/fail could, if s/he wished, earn a C- and thus pass the course by earning a check on each of five One-Page Papers, three checks on one Longer Paper, and earning a check for acceptable participation. Your engagement with this course, like your education as a whole, is at your discretion: the more you put in, the more you get out. This contract-like system is designed to acknowledge your right to choose and to reward with high grades those who demonstrate the most substantial mastery of the skills and materials we have come together to study and enjoy. (A note on rounding)
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U-M Fantasy and Science Fiction Web Site
U-M Fantasy and Science Fiction Web Site Dictionary of Symbolism
U-M Library Search Tools (may require login):
   GaleNet (authors & literary criticism)
   Humanities Text Initiative (searchable texts and text collections)
   Oxford English Dictionary (meanings, etymologies, and quotations)
   Encyclopedia Britannica
   Modern Language Association Bibliography (literary criticism)

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"Eden Complex"
Fairy Tales - Freudian Compensation
Fairy Tale Structures - Propp
Fairy Tale Structures - Two Grimm Tales
Five Ways of Looking At a Thesis
How To Read For This Course (taken from online course Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World)
How To Write For This Course (taken from online course Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World)
Logic and Literary Argument
Maps of the Psyche
Marginal Notes on Essays
MLA Citation Style (Format) with Basic Discussion and Examples
MLA Citation Style (Format) with Extended Discussion and Examples
A Note on the Forms of Literary Argument
Secure Materials (restricted to U-M community for instructional and scholarly purposes)
Some Questions for Active Reading of Fiction
Some Terms and Concepts
Some Public Domain Texts for Fantasy Discussions
"The Doubles" map
Utopian Literature Background Notes
Writing Samples for Use of Evidence
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