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Lovecraft and the Weird

Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Spring 2018
Bea Wood Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times

MWF 10:00-10:50 AM

Dr. Peter Fields (view Profile)


The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories
H. P. Lovecraft/Penguin
The Dreams in the Witchhouse & Other Weird Stories
H. P. Lovecraft/Penguin
The White People & Other Weird Stories
Arthur Machen/Penguin
In the Land of Time & Other Fantasy Tales
Lord Dunsany/Penguin
Black God's Kiss
C. L. Moore/Penguin
Crimson Shadows: Best of Robert E. Howard Vol. 1
Ballantine Books/Del Rey
Course Objectives

 English Department Goals:

Critical Inquiry

  • Students engage in an increasingly sophisticated discourse and demonstrate aesthetic and critical discernment through close textual analysis.
  • Students evaluate secondary sources and apply skills in information gathering and management, and document design, using traditional sources and emerging technologies.

Knowledge of Language and Literature

  • Students understand the usage and structure of the English language.
  • Students recognize the stylistic techniques that distinguish key literary texts relevant to subject and genre.
  • Students are familiar with the legacy of important ideas and contexts associated with literary periods.
  • Students are introduced to academic and professional publications in the field.

Writing as Process

  • Students reflect on their arguments over multiple stages of development.
  • Using traditional resources and emerging technologies, students utilize and format their primary and secondary sources in MLA style.


Student is aware of a cultural context for his or her own values and those of his or her sources.


Course Expectations

Journal Responses (60 percent of semester grade): Students need to write a one paragraph (approx. 300 words) response where indicated in the daily schedule. These are TYPED, double-spaced. No bibliography. Students will write SIX journal entries and TWO Friday presentations (see below). A model for journal entries is provided at the end of this syllabus with guidelines.

The WEIRD Essays 1 & 2 (20 percent each). Students receive the prompt ahead of time in order to trouble-shoot and prepare a two-paragraph WEIRD essay (approx. 600 words). The prompt will contain the prompt question and relevant information. WEIRD Essay 2 is also the FINAL (prepared ahead of time and submitted at the scheduled time for Final Exam).

FRIDAY Student Presentation(s): Students share a passage from a relevant weird title that we are reading, explain in their words the technique and its significance, and then compare it to something they have seen in another title in our anthologies (whether we are reading it or not as a class) or something else they have seen in popular culture. Students must present TWICE. The presentation should be typed, double-spaced, use 12 point Times New Roman, and format quotes the same as our model for journal entries. The presentation will be graded by a similar rubric to that of the journals. EACH OF THE TWO PRESENTATIONS COUNTS THE SAME AS A JOURNAL ENTRY.

 PROMPT FOR JOURNAL ENTRIES. Journal entries should be one substantial paragraph (approx. 300 words), not to exceed one page. Students should build the paragraph around at least three significant quotes (each one a complete or near-complete thought), not counting one or two-word quotes. We are following MLA in-body citing for format. Submit and keep journal entries hole-punched and fixed in the brads of a normal folder with clasps. Use 12 point Times New Roman and double-space. SEE SAMPLE ENTRY (left-hand margin is an inch and a quarter).

QUOTES: A quote is the verbatim (word-for-word) use of a source. For each journal entry, quote at least three times from a text and pivot from a key passage in it. You can have shorter quotes as well, but you need three that are more than a few words and provide a complete thought (see the three shaded quotes in sample entry). POETRY needs forward slashes between lines.

PARENTHETICAL NUMBERS: The quote is immediately followed by a parenthetical number, indicating line number(s) if poetry—or page numbers if prose (anything that is not a poem). 

BRACKETED ELLIPSIS […]: Indicates the quoted material is not a complete sentence—something from the original text is missing from the beginning, middle, or end. 

DESCRIPTION & KEY PASSAGE: A good journal entry sets the scene with your own descriptive details regarding character, action, and situation. You can quote from anywhere in the text but pivot from a key passage. 

SUPPORTING POINTS: What is the meaning of a quote? Express that meaning in your own words prior to the quote. This meaning or explanation is a supporting point. Do not lead with a quote. Instead, lead with the supporting point. 

YOU NEED TO CLEARLY STATE A CONTROLLING IDEA, THOUGHT, OR FEELING. Your supporting points should provide the frame for, or lead to, a central theme or controlling idea that ties together the whole paragraph (which is really a mini-essay). This governing idea or overall position can kick off the paragraph (like a topic sentence), emerge part-way, or conclude the essay—but the over-all idea or feeling should be reasonably clear.

Student’s Name

Dr. Fields

Lovecraft & the Weird

January 29, 2018

Journal Entry 1: H. P. Lovecraft, Herbert West - Reanimator.

This story achieves its weird effect of horrific revelation—culminating in a twist ending—through hyperbole, gothic analogy, ethnic typing, and foreshadowing. The narrator, West’s longsuffering assistant, describes the dead as less than grateful for West’s “elixir” (56). They long to return to their graves after having their revenge. Dug up from a potter’s field, West’s first success is a promising specimen of working-class hardihood: “a sturdy and apparently unimaginative youth of wholesome plebeian type […] and probably having vital processes of the simplest and healthiest sort” (53). West’s “reagent” (51) seems to have failed until the expired youth screams so loudly that his agony can only be described by gothic superlatives: “[…] there burst the most appalling and daemoniac succession of cries that either of us had ever heard” (54). Here the shrieks of the corpse belie Herbert West’s “materialism” (55) with a vision of infernal afterlife breaking into our world: “Not more unutterable could have been the chaos of hellish sound if the pit itself had opened to release the agony of the damned […]” (54). Later, Dr. West can never forget the “clawed grave” (78) in the potter’s field, the ground pawed and gashed as if his first patient tried to burrow back into the earth. West’s most macabre achievement was reanimating the separate body and head of wartime surgeon Major Clapham-Lee, both of which survive the shelling of West’s field hospital. Years later, the body still carries the head in a black case, and its voice commands an entourage of the dead. They break through the wall of a centuries-old tomb into the basement of West’s home in Boston. Dr. Clapham-Lee tricks West into incinerating the head, prompting the headless body to rip off West’s head as a replacement. Ironically, Herbert West becomes the opposite of a life-giver. He becomes the new Lord of the Dead.


Grading Standards

Six journal entries and two presentations count equally (8 grades) for 60 percent of the overall semester grade. The two WEIRD Essays are each worth 20 percent of the overall grade. Grammar and punctuation count as well. The Journal Rubric will be adapted for presentations and the two WEIRD Essays.

Final Exam 05/09/2018 10:30 AM
Submission Format Policy Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.
Late Paper Policy

 Late Penalties and Illness

An essay assignment submitted after the class period of the due date is penalized 10 points. If late by two class periods, the essay is penalized 20 points. The penalty is capped at 20 points.

If students are too ill to submit their work personally, they should submit it when they return to class. They may avoid penalty for late submission by obtaining documentation from a relevant professional in a timely fashion (e.g., a doctor, clinic, officer of the court, or the Dean of Students’ office). If they are ill but nevertheless submit it in class on the day it is due, they can be excused from the rest of that class period.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Other Policies


Any use of a non-documented source as if it were a student’s original work is considered plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Plagiarism can be of ideas; it can be of exact phrasing. In either or both cases, if the student has failed to acknowledge the source in the body of the essay and to document it in the Works Cited, the grade will be a “0” (no points) for the assignment even if the rest of the assignment is original and use of other sources properly documented. Upon being informed of the plagiarism, the student is no longer welcome in the class. The student may withdraw from the course with a penalty-free “W” if available; if not, the student must cease attending and the grade will be whatever points the student has accumulated minus the plagiarized document and any other tests or assignment as yet not completed (which are forfeit).  If the student continues to attend, the instructor will contact the Dean of Students or Student Conduct office and withdraw the student with a WF.

Phrasing that is too close to the student’s own documented sources.

Students who reproduce the phrasing of their documented source(s) as if it were their own phrasing will be penalized for language that is too close to source. Students can use terminology they find in their documented sources, but four words in a row are too much without quoting. Verbatim use of a documented source must be confined to QUOTES set off with quotation marks or ten extra spaces on the left if the verbatim passage works out to be five or more lines of student typing or handwriting. All such quoting requires parenthetical page numbers if provided in the source. Even if page numbers are not provided, the language must be clearly attributed to the author and set off by quotation marks or an extra ten inches on the left.

Classroom Policies Students should avoid being late on a consistent basis. If you miss attendance, you are considered late. Alert the instructor to mark you present.

  • Students should stay off their personal electronics.
  • Students must have the instructor’s permission to leave class.
  • Students should follow along in their own copies of their book, highlighting passages, and taking notes.

WARNING: Students with consistent lateness and problems following-along in class will be warned by email. If the problem continues, the student is warned by the Dean of Student’s office. If to no avail, then the student will be removed with WF. The instructor is willing to sign a penalty-free withdrawal slip if brought to him in timely fashion.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Calendar Attachment

ENGL 3723 LOVECRAFT Syllabus & Schedule FINAL Spring 2018-20180117-163338.doc

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at