Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

ENGL 273 Exploring Fiction

Spring 2015

Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center – Spring 2015


Instructor: Elizabeth Geoghegan

Email: egeoghegan@luc.edu

Office Hours:  By appointment; Room 102

Day/Time/Location:  Thursday 930-12pm


COURSE DESCRIPTION:  This core course focuses on the understanding, appreciation, and criticism of prose fiction. Through the examination of superlative examples of the short story, novella, and novel, students will come to a better understanding of how to think, speak, and write about literature. The class will emphasize close readings of the texts to better understand the complexities of narrative language and the diverse points of view and traditions that inspire literary fiction. For this class, all of the works are set in Italy and explore the transformative effects of the Italian landscape on the characters who visit it. We will also analyze visual narratives and compare the ways in which film and literature inform one another.

Outcome:Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of fiction as a means of exploring human experience and understanding the creative process, and be able to use the technical vocabulary necessary for understanding fiction.


Knowledge Area(s) satisfied:

Literary Knowledge and Experience

Skill(s) Developed:

Critical Thinking and Reading

Communication Skills – Written & Oral

Values Requirement(s) satisfied:





A Room with a View, E. M. Forster

Daisy Miller, Henry James

Death in Venice, Thomas Mann (David Luke Translation)

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, Geoff Dyer

The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith

Call Me By Your Name, Andre Aciman


LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Through the careful analysis of representative texts, this class will deepen student knowledge of fiction and increase understanding of the human experience reflected in literature. 


Students will practice thinking and reading critically and improve critical skills by analyzing varied interpretations and assumptions connected to the texts. The course will encourage students to develop their own hypotheses, theories, and interpretations of the literature covered.


Students will acquire the technical vocabulary for understanding works of fiction (plot, theme, etc.) and practice their descriptive, analytical, and argumentative skills in orally and in formal, written analyses. They will improve their ability to frame questions, present background information, analyze specific images, symbols, or passages and to present interpretations of literary work in both oral and written form.


The course will improve student ability to understand how multiple interpretations of literary works are possible, and how differing interpretations reflect particular cultural and historical conditions that change over time. They will improve their ability to understand meaning in a historical context and to develop a facility for using different critical approaches to produce different interpretations of the texts.




Through in-class discussions, writing assignments and oral presentations, students will learn to understand, paraphrase, summarize, and contextualize the meaning of assigned texts and develop their own ideas, hypotheses, theories, questions, and proposals about the works in question, synthesizing ideas to support their own arguments and analyses of the text(s).


LEARNING ACTIVITIES: Readings and discussions will provide information regarding the texts, placing them in an historical context and providing avenues for critical analysis.  Student(s) will be expected to read the materials in advance and be prepared to both ask and answer questions about the reading assignments. Discussion, homework assignments, written responses (of varied lengths), a midterm, an oral presentation, and a final paper will be used to assess literary knowledge, as well as writing and critical thinking and communication skills.





Participation / Preparedness / Homework                                                   10%

Midterm Exam                                                                                                                     30%

Close Reading/Seminar Paper                                                                                          30%

Final Exam                                                                                                                           30%




All essays and take-home writing assignments should be typed, double-spaced with one inch margins, and prepared using a 12 point font size. Please note that in Italy we use A4 paper (not US Letter) and you should change your page set-up to reflect this. Essay formatting should follow the MLA Style Handbook. Late essays lose 10% if they are late. If essays are more than a week late, they will not be accepted and a grade of 0 will be recorded for that assignment.



Since our discussions (and your participation in them) are such a large component of this course, and we have fewer meetings than most courses, your attendance is mandatory.  Two (2) unexcused absences will result in the lowering of your final grade by one complete grade.  For example, a student with an A will drop to a B, a student with an A- will drop to a B- and so on.  More than three (3) unexcused absences may result in failure for the course.  Absences (medical or otherwise) should be cleared with the JFRC Dean’s office. 


DISABILITY POLICY:  If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact me within the first week of classes


ACADEMIC INTEGRITY:  Plagiarism is considered a serious offense, will be reported to the Dean of the Loyola Rome program, and could result in expulsion.  Please see me if you have questions about how to do research, document and cite sources, or with any other questions you may have about papers and assignments.