Queens College

City University of New York

English 363-1569

Summer 2011

Mon-Thurs 1:00PM-3:40PM

Room   Science A143

Steven Alvarez

Office: KP 330

Office Hours: Fri 12:15-2:00PM


This course will briefly survey the experimental narrative borders of transnational “Hispanic” literatures. Three novels, Miguel Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Macedonio Fernández’s The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel), and Edgardo Vega Yunqué’s The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow Into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle will be examined for their flouting of formal narrative conventions in conjunction with aesthetic traditions local to their contexts in colonial and postcolonial empires. A tradition of experimental “Hispanic” narration will be stretched geographically and politically across the “New World” and the “Old World” of the Hispanic diaspora. Additional borders will be explored in some detail in this course, in particular some of the detailed border aspects of postcolonialism, sociolinguistics, migration, populist nationalism, the history of transnational trade, and poetics. These frameworks will be applied to the novels, as well as additional aesthetic texts, including a few short films. As this is a literature course, the emphasis will be on printed texts, especially readings from the novels.

Expect to maintain a blog throughout the term.

Course Learning Goals

Students will become familiar with narratological theory and methodology.

Students will practice compositional techniques applying narratological analyses to novels.

—Students will gain greater understanding of researching scholarly articles and incorporating research into critical analyses.

—Students will demonstrate greater command of employing correct MLA standards in compositions.



We’ll be seeing a lot of one another.  Therefore I hope we will come to respect one another as members of a shared academic community.  In order to foster that sense of community, there are a few rules that I expect everyone to follow:

RESPECT: In this class we’ll encounter new ideas and different ways of thinking and reading texts, in addition to practicing new and demanding skills.  In order for us to be a successful community of scholars, we need to be respectful of each other’s learning.  It is imperative that we treat one another with courtesy.  Talking over your classmates or myself, sleeping, not having the necessary materials, or not having done the assignment, are all manifestations of disrespect and will be noted.  Turn off the ringer to your cellular phones before you enter the classroom. AND PLEASE NO TEXT MESSAGING. And please don’t make dramatic sighs, sigh.

Be aware that grades for participation are not only based on how much you talk in class but also how respectful you are to your classmates, to your work, and to me.

ATTENDANCE:  We meet at 1:00PM—not 1:11, and certainly not 1:20.  I DO NOT tolerate tardiness, and I find it disrespectful.  If you have problems with parking, I suggest arriving at QC earlier or taking public transit. If you can’t make the time commitment to the class, please drop.

Also please note that if you miss the in-class writing that begin each class, you may not make them up for full credit when you post them on your blog. These points are also tabulated in the “participation” section of your grade. More than three missed classes will result in significant loss in your participation grade. The more classes you miss, the more your grade suffers.  More importantly, our discussions and our in-class writings are an integral part of the graded assignments.

It is your responsibility to miss no more than three or accept your grade.  You are responsible for all the work we do in class and out of class even if you are not in attendance. Find a classmate from whom you can get any missed information. My email and telephone number are at the top of the syllabus. Feel free to contact me.

LATE WORK: It is necessary for you to complete each assignment before the next is begun.  Late or skipped assignments will seriously hinder the process.  I RESERVE THE RIGHT NOT TO ACCEPT LATE BLOG RESPONSES.  That’s in bold and caps so you get my emphasis, dig?  With each class the assignment is late, I dock one-half (1/2) a point from the grade it receives.  If you feel that you will not be able to make a deadline, or if you must miss class on the day the written response is due, you must contact me in advance so we can work something out.  Also note, I will not accept any emailed essays. Everything you submit for this class must be on your blog.

PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism is the most disrespectful act of an academic citizen and carries the largest reprimand.  The English Department policy on plagiarism is as follows: “A student who has plagiarized will automatically fail the paper and possibly fail the class.  The student will also be listed on a departmental record that will be maintained for the duration of the student’s enrollment at the College and reported to the Dean of Students who may decide to take further action.  A student who plagiarizes the second time will automatically fail the course.  Plagiarists may be subject to further penalties to be determined by the Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee or the Dean of Students, including notation on the student’s permanent record, suspension, or dismissal from the college.” See also

ASSISTANCE: You are always welcome to come see me during office hours for help either with your writing or to discuss the readings.  The QC Writing Center (Kiely 229) and the Reading Lab (Kiely 131) conduct free classes, individual tutoring sessions, and drop-in advising.  Also take note of the following QC writing online tutorial: I offer extra credit for trips to the writing center. If you are interested, please inquire after class or during office hours.


All assignments will be given a point grade and not a letter grade.

In-class writing (posted as blog posts)                                             


(15 x 3points each)


Final Essay (posted as blog page)    


            (12 pages, 5 sources)


Writing Reponses (posted as blog pages)     


            (3 x 5 points each)


Participation                                                                                       10 POINTS


Participation on Blackboard

Journal Article Research (posted as a bibliography on blog page)                                          



The in-class writing must be posted as blog entries in order to be given full credit. Your longer written responses will be at least two-and-one-half (2.5) pages in length, double-spaced, 12-point font.  In these you will practice PIE paragraphs and juxtapose critical readings with the analyses of texts.  I will deduct points for lack of a works cited page and for citing improperly and for not employing correct MLA standards


If you are consistently late for class, you forfeit the class participation points for in-class writing on your final grade.

Required Texts

There will be some small texts posted as PDFs on Blackboard, so be sure your account is up and running.  The texts for purchase are listed below:

De Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel. The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha.

Trans. John Rutherford. Columbus, MT: Penguin, 2003. Print.

ISBN-10: 0142437239

ISBN-13: 978-0142437230

Fernandez, Macedonio. The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel). Trans.

Margaret Schwartz. Rochester, NY: Open Letter, 2010. Print.

ISBN-10: 1934824062

ISBN-13: 978-1934824061

Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” Poems, Plays, and

Prose: A Guide to the Theory of Literary Genres. Cologne: U of Cologne Press,

2002. <>

Vega Yunqué, Edgardo.   The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the

Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle. Overlook, 2004.

ISBN-10: 0060846801

ISBN-13: 978-0060846800


Your Qwriting Blog, and the Class Blog

You are also required to maintain a blog on

This is a portfolio-based class, which means that at the end of the semester you will be required to electronically post an electronic portfolio, which will include your “final” essay of the semester, and copies of your most formal drafts of your previous informal writings.

The sequence of assignments is laid out in the schedule of assignments below, but please note that your blog will be where all your writing this semester will take place.  Your blogs will be where you experiment with applications of the theories we examine, and also to build material to use toward your final essay.

The short response writings due at the beginning of each week should focus on narratological analyses of the texts read in class. Your final essay, however, must incorporate outside critical sources retrieved from the QC library databases.

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