English III Honors Updated: 21-Aug-2011

2011-2012 Academic Year
LS Blätter
Room L | 9
Periods 4 & 6 (first semester) and 1 & 6 (second semester)
School Phone: 727.583.7410
blatterl@pcsb.org | LS@alchemyandlore.com

Freedom lies in the capacity to expose the failure of the system, to rejuvenate perception of ready-made views and automatic reflexes.                                                                              --Sophie Girardin

Or perhaps it is that I recognized in you the strength and innocence that will reclaim us all from defeat.  That will exonerate our having lived and justify our suffering.                                    --from The Book of Daniel (70)


Because what folks claim is right is always just a couple of jumps short of what they need to do business.
--from All the King’s Men (258)

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.             
--from The Communist Manifesto

Corporate takeover of intellectual property has become quite dramatic, and it has resulted in the replacement of intelligent citizens by mindless consumers, and a corresponding conceptual flattening of public discourse.
--from The Twilight of American Culture

Perhaps it is this specter that most haunts working men and women: the planned obsolescence of people that is of a piece with the planned obsolescence with the things they make.  Or sell.  It is perhaps this fear of no longer being needed in a world of needless things that most clearly spells out the unnaturalness, the surreality of much that is called work today.                                                                   --from Working


The Bureaucratic Stuff

This course will seek to explore ideas based on the texts (listed below) and to ask questions about the nature of these texts, about the nature of ourselves (as texts?), about the nature of humankind and to an extent, about the nature of violence and absurdity as part of the dark underside of the American Dream.  What role does violence and absurdity play in every day American life?  We will discuss the terms “violence” and “absurdity” and grapple with their meanings and functions in the course’s texts as well as the texts in our (global) culture that is brought closer and simultaneously separated by this beast called the internet.  That said, there are 5 basic tangible objectives of any English course (I say tangible because who you are as a person cannot be measured by any one endeavor; who you are as a thinker is (I hope) a process of perpetual propulsion that can be assessed in increments but is always elusive and transitory):


--Highlighter (2 colors)
--Colored Pencils (5 colors)
--Pen—preferably black ink
--A binder with space for each of the following categories:

  • Responses to texts
  • Personal Essays
  • News Articles & Essays
  • Handouts
  • Various Assessments (quizzes &tc.)


  • How to Respond to a Text
    • Finding meaning through analysis
    • Close Reading
    • Understanding the rhetorical situation
  • How to Craft an Original Text
    • Understanding the essay form
    • Manipulation of the essay form
    • Synthesis of information
    • Polite Email
    • Formal Letter
    • Letter to the Editor
  • How to Research
    • Gather information for a purpose
    • Document information gathered (MLA citation)
    • Integrate information gathered into your writing (supporting an idea or argument)
  • How to Justify Ideas: Argument
    • Articulate “why” you have an idea
    • Support ideas with information gathered (see III)
  • How to Persuade
    • Diction & Tone
    • Rhetorical Strategies
      • Ethos, pathos, logos


  • Come to class prepared.
  • Be ready to take notes every day.  They will save your grade and your sanity.  Learn to take notes and learn to love taking notes.  I will not tell you to take notes; you should be doing this on your own.
  • Do not throw ANY work away.  Store it in your portfolio.  I will give you a folder and cabinet space.  Use it.
  • Sign up for the forums (you must have a valid email address): www.alchemyandlore.com/forums
  • Seriously, sign up for them immediately.
  • Be nice.
  • NO canned drinks or gum.
  • Talk to me about your issues privately and nicely.  If you interrupt class to argue about something that should be discussed privately, I’ll ask you what day you would like your detention.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll give you a pass (in triplicate) to your administrator. 



  • Participation is ownership.  If you want to do well in this or any class, you have to make it yours.  You can only do that by showing up on time and participating productively.
  • Please don’t go to your locker or vending machine during this class period.  If you do, I’ll most likely end up asking you what day you’d like your detention.  If you have an emergency, talk to me privately.
  • If you must use the restroom, sign out and depart quietly.  When you get back (in a timely manner, of course), sign in and blend.  Don’t make a scene or I’ll most likely end up asking you what day you’d like your detention.
  • Paper Format: we’ll talk about this ad nauseum.  Take notes.
  • Grades: keep your portfolio up to date.  You will have to justify your progress in this class after every major (and sometimes minor) project.  Not every six weeks will be discrete, so keep up.
  • If you’re absent, you have that amount of time to make up work.  I won’t chase you.  Get what you missed from a classmate.  That’s right, this is a community and you need to be a part of it.  Make a friend.  If you find all your friends are absent and you need make up work, talk to me.  After class.
  • Don’t cheat or plagiarize.  This is serious business and won’t be tolerated.  You will get an automatic zero for the assignment and an automatic referral. We will talk about this as well, so take notes.



  • 1984 by George Orwell and How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster (summer reading)
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
  • Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
  • A Glossary of Literary Terms by M. H. Abrams (pdf available on web)
  • We will read from the following selection of short stories and poems:
    • “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    • Excerpts from “Civil Disobedience” by H.D. Thoreau
    • “A Rose for Emily” by Faulkner
    • “Genesis”
    • “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner
    • “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
    • “The Allegory of the Cave” by Plato
    • “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor
    • “Sick Rose” by William Blake
    •  “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe
    • “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville
    • “Such, Such Were the Joys” by Orwell
    • Excerpts from The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman (packet)
    • Excerpts from Working by Studs Terkel
    • Various news articles (nyt.com, slate.com, salon.com) and writings by Cary Tennis (salon.com)
  • Films:
    • The Matrix
    • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
    • Dead Poets Society






There will be 3-4 major essay assignments varying in length from 3-7 pages and several smaller essays from time to time.  A 1-2 page response will be due for EACH reading assignment (or increments for larger works).  I will hand out a rubric for each larger paper when it is assigned.  The final research paper (5-7 pages) must address the questions of the course or some aspect of violence, absurdity and the American Dream in literature.  Since this is an Honors class, you will be left to your own devices to determine how you would like to approach this paper.  I will help you as much as you are willing to help yourself.  Hint: Ask questions when you need to.

As always, check the website and forums for the most current information.  This beast is tentative and a guide, merely.  www.alchemyandlore.com 

If you do not have web access at home, you should plan to use the computers here (or in the library) before or after class, before or after school or during lunch.  If you don’t think you can swing that, talk to me—immediately.


Unit 1: Politics and Propaganda

  • 1984 by George Orwell (summer reading)
  • “The Allegory of the Cave” by Plato
  • The Matrix
  • “The Road Not Taken”
  • “Portrait of an Ideal World” by Mencken


  • Summer Reading Quiz
  • Grammar/Usage/Mechanics Diagnostic
  • Responses to each text
  • Mini-paper: Rhetorical analysis of Agent Smith’s soliloquy
  • Mini-Paper: Relate Agent Smith’s argument to 1984 and “The Allegory of the Cave.”  What does the juxtaposition of these texts reveal?
  • Mini-paper: DCQ Mencken’s position in “Portrait of an Ideal World”
  • Mini-Paper: Write an essay in which you consider the implications of the “Like” button (visual).
  • Unit Paper: Comparison/Contrast of language in two passages from 1984 addressing the roles that language plays in the goals of the Party.

Recommended Viewing (Please seek parental consent before viewing any suggested films for this course):

  • Fight Club
  • Minority Report
  • Pink Floyd’s The Wall
  • Thank You for Smoking
  • Good Night, and Good Luck


  • Understand rhetorical devices and how they are used
  • Employ rhetorical devices effectively and for a purpose
  • Analyze argumentative texts
  • Understand the functions of ethos, pathos, logos
  • Analyze purpose, audience and strategy/technique
  • Tone and diction analysis: levels of diction

Themes and Ideas:

  • Power and danger of language over thought: propaganda
  • Power of speaking out for the purposes of protest and rebellion
  • Identity issues
  • Role of the individual in society
  • Conformity and consumption (products and ideas)
  • Joy and happiness

Unit 2: A Short Education of Civil Disobedience

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • Excerpts from “Civil Disobedience” by H.D. Thoreau
  • “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville
  • “Such, Such Were the Joys” by Orwell
  • Excerpts from The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman (packet)
  • Dead Poets Society


  • Responses for each text (for HP5, one response per 7 chapters, due each Tuesday)
  • Formal Letter (letter to teacher, administrator, legislator, etc.)
  • Letter to the Editor: Address a problem or issue at your school that you think the public should be aware of.  Be sure to indicate why the public should be made aware and discuss what all members of your community should do to address the issue/problem.  Include a key on a separate page that identifies each rhetorical device or strategy employed.
  • Owl
  • Unit Paper: Analyze the function of rules in HP5.  Are they effective?  Why or why not? What larger conclusion(s) can you draw based on your analysis? Use all the minor readings from this unit to support your position and at least one text from Unit 1; cite using MLA.

Recommended Viewing:

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Contact


  • Understand the various genres of communication
  • Understand and analyze arguments
  • Craft and support a thesis using various genres
  • Successfully employ rhetorical strategies and literary devices
  • Write for persuasive purposes

Themes and Ideas:

  • Civil disobedience
  • Education
  • The power of individual choice
  • Models and strategies for conflict resolution
  • Power and moral poverty

Unit 3: Balance of Power

  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • “Young Goodman Brown” by N. Hawthorne
  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back


  • Responses for each text
  • Mini-Paper: Explicate the scene in the cave with Luke and Darth Vader.  What does this scene reveal about Luke’s character?  (You may also want to contrast Luke’s behavior with Yoda earlier.)
  • Mini-Paper: Discuss the theme of appearances versus reality in “YGB.”  How is irony revealed through the use of this theme?
  • Unit Paper: One of the ways authors suggest meaning is through the use of color, light, shadow, flower and weed imagery (“the woods”) for the purpose of indicating a moral state of a character.  Using Wizard and “Goodman Brown” discuss how imagery is used to reveal character in these texts.

Recommended Viewing:

  • Mystic Pizza
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Gladiator
  • Metropolis


  • Understand the uses of imagery
  • Recognize and interpret archetypes
  • Analyze argumentative essays
  • Construct an argumentative/persuasive essay
  • Understand argument structure
  • Hone use of rhetorical skills developed in unit 1

Themes and Ideas:

  • Great Depression and Poverty
  • Understanding class consciousness
  • Plight of workers (compare to current economic climate)
  • Independence and its role in community building
  • Poverty as an indication of absurdity

Unit 4: Balance of Power

  • Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
  •  “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
  • “Sick Rose” by William Blake
  • “Irony and Isolation: Narrative Distance in Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily’” by Isaac Rodman
  • “The Fall of the House of Usher” by EA Poe
  • Excerpts from Working by Studs Terkel
  • “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner
  • “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor
  •  “Genesis” in The Bible


  • Responses to each text
  • Mini-Paper: Write an essay in which you show how a character functions in the work.  You may wish to discuss how the character affects action, theme, or the development of other characters.  Avoid plot summary.
  • Mini-Paper: Writers often highlight the values of a culture or a society by using characters who are alienated from that culture or society because of gender, race, class or creed.  Choose one work from this unit in which such a character plays a significant role and show how that character’s alienation reveals the surrounding society’s assumptions and moral values.
  • Mini-Paper: The end scene in “A Rose for Emily tells us as much about Emily as it does the community in which she lived.  How does the character of Emily inform the character of the community (or indeed, how does the character of the community inform our understanding of Emily)?
  • Unit Paper: In “Shooting an Elephant,” Orwell observes that “when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys,” and that “He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.”  Consider the implications of these statements concerning human nature, violence and absurdity.  Write an essay in which you qualify Orwell’s paradox and metaphor.  Be sure to reference at least two of the unit texts as well as at one major and one minor reading from the previous units to support your argument.

Recommended Viewing:

  • Lord of the Flies
  • Shawshank Redemption
  • The Incredibles


  • Understand archetypes and symbolism
  • Relate symbolism to character / meaning
  • Synthesis and research
  • MLA citation and attribution
  • Understand ambiguity
  • Understand writing as a form of inquiry
  • Analyze point of view

Themes and Ideas:

  • Absurdity and violence as integral to Americana
  • Money/financial independence
  • Morality and intelligence v. spectacle
  • “Cost” of change
  • Trust and betrayal

A note on the tentative syllabus:
Since there are only four units for our six 6-week school year, there will be some overlap from grading period to grading period.  More often than not, the final project for one unit will be the first major grade of the new marking period.  As such, it is absolutely imperative that you keep up with all reading and writing assignments or you may find it difficult if not impossible to catch up.  The entire course is cumulative.  If you do not do any one major reading, you will be unable to pass the final six weeks of the course.  You will be required to use ALL major texts and several minor texts for the final research paper.  If you are struggling, make time to visit with me after school or set up a time when we can chat.  This is a crucial time in your academic career; plan carefully.


The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Sick Rose

O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

William Blake

Robert Frost