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English 2310: The Short Story

Ambrose Bierce's Civil War Stories in Context

Spring 2019 Sections:
080 @ TR 10:50, OAG 112, CRN 11429
090 @ TR 12:15, OAG 112, CRN 11431

Ed Tober, Assistant Professor
Department of English and Languages, OAG 335
Office Hours: M-F 8:30-9:30 (and by appointment)

Course Description

Professor Tober's English 2310 will introduce students to and rehearse them in textual and contextual strategies for thematically analyzing and interpreting a selection of Ambrose Bierce's Civil War stories.

Course Requirements

Daily Grade: 50% (All Daily Assignments)

Daily assignments must be concluded on time and in class for credit--period--so do not give/send me any "excuses," as no class assignments are ever individually waived. Grades on daily assignments are, for the most part, quantitative; that is, a grade of  means that all aspects of the assignment were completed with a reasonable level of relevance and detail. A grade other than  reflects a relative level of incompleteness, and a zero means you were not present to do that day's classwork (since attendance is mandatory). Your daily grade will be computed using the following rubric:

From the 100 at which your daily average begins,
each 0 subtracts 7 points,
each ½ subtracts 4 points,
- subtracts 2 points,
subtracts 0 points, and
each + adds 2 points (so your Daily Grade could exceed 100).

THREE MAJOR COMPOSITIONS (Formal Essay, Annotated Bibliography, Final Exam): 50% (BEST 2 @ 25% EACH) 

A late paper (MC 1 and/or MC 2) will be penalized ten points per day, beginning at the time due, but will not be accepted more than three calendar days late. If you do not submit one by that time, you will receive a zero, unless you have made a prior arrangement with me. Major Compositions 1 and 2 are mandatory (i.e., you cannot pass the course if you do not submit both of them or otherwise make a zero on either). However, you may opt out of Major Composition 3 (Final Exam) if you are satisfied with your grades on MC 1 and 2 as the best 2 of the 3 assigned Major Compositions.

In Fall 2015, Tarleton began differentiating between a failed grade in a class because a student never attended (F0 grade), stopped attending or stopped regularly submitting assignments at some point in the semester (FX grade), or because the student did not pass the course (F) but attended and submitted assignments the entire semester. These grades will be noted on the official transcript. Stopping or never attending class or submitting assignments can result in the student having to return aid monies received.  For more information see the Tarleton Financial Aid website.

Students are expected to be familiar with Tarleton's Academic Integrity and Academic Conduct policies on the Judicial Affairs website and should be aware that academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and will be punished severely. If I suspect that academic misconduct has occurred (plagiarism, copying from an unauthorized source, copying with another student, etc.), I reserve the right to examine a student on the content or any other facet of submitted work. Moreover, since there are no collaborative assignments in this course, I expect all submitted work to be done independently.

It is the policy of Tarleton State University to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable laws. If you are a student with a disability seeking accommodations for this course, please contact the Center for Access and Academic Testing at 254.968.9400 or The office is located in Math 201. More information can be found at, in the University Catalog, or at Students are instructed to deliver their letters of accommodation during office hours or by appointment, not before or after class, to allow time for a conversation about the request.

The following breaches of academic decorum will not be tolerated: sleeping in class, rudeness to another student, private conversations, leaving class without notice (unless physically ill, of course), playing with/listening to electronic devices (so cell phones must be out of sight), etc. Frankly, these are "common sense" conventions for classroom courtesy, and failure to comply will result in a zero for that day's class exercise.


Tarleton State University provides an academically challenging education where learning is grounded in real-world experiences and effective teaching, research, scholarship, and service. As a member of The Texas A&M University System, Tarleton is rich in history and tradition while being committed to student success and diversity. Tarleton strives to develop moral and ethical thinkers, scholars, and leaders who demonstrate civility and integrity, while contributing meaningfully and responsibly to a global society.

The only book you need to purchase is
Bierce, Ambrose. Civil War Stories. Dover Thrift, 1994.

Coleman, Christopher K. Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife. U of Tennessee P, 2016.

Guide to MLA Documentation:
Purdue OWL. "MLA Formatting and Style Guide."

01-15 Hand out and Discuss Syllabus; Hand out and Discuss/Highlight Swaim's "Ambrose Bierce Chronology"; Hand out Coleman, Chapter 2, and KISO; Hand out Bierce, "A Horseman in the Sky" (27-32) Reading Preview
01-17 Coleman, Chapter 2, KISO DUE
01-22 Bierce, "A Horseman in the Sky" (27-32) Reading Preview DUE; Hand out Bierce, "What I Saw of Shiloh" (1-17) Reading Preview
01-24 Finish "A Horseman in the Sky" (27-32) Reading Preview; Hand out Bierce, "The Story of a Conscience" (99-104) Reading Preview
01-29 Documentary Notes: Battle at Shiloh: The Devil's Own Two Days
01-31 Bierce, "What I Saw of Shiloh" (1-17) Reading Preview DUE
02-05 Finish Bierce, "What I Saw of Shiloh" (1-17) Reading Preview; Hand out Prompt & Rhetorical Guide w/Grading Rubric for Major Composition 1 (Formal Essay)
02-07 Bierce, "The Story of a Conscience" (99-104) Reading Preview DUE
02-12 Finish Bierce, "The Story of a Conscience" (99-104) Reading Preview; Hand out Bierce, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (33-40) Reading Preview
02-14 Watch Film Adaptation of "The Story of a Conscience"; Watch Film & Music Video Adaptations of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"
02-19 Bierce, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (33-40) Reading Preview DUE
02-21 Continue Bierce, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (33-40) Reading Preview
02-26 Major Composition 1 DUE; Finish Bierce, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (33-40) Reading Preview
02-28 Hand out Assignment Sheet and Rhetorical Guide/Template for Major Composition 2/Annotated Bibliography; Periodical Db Searching; Hand out Articles and KISOs for Logan and Linkin
03-05 Logan Article KISO DUE; Hand out Blume Article w/ Annotated Citation Assignment Sheet
03-07 Linkin Article KISO DUE; Hand out KISO Outlines for Cheatham and Cheatham and for Stoicheff (Remember that you will need to print out one of these.)
  SPRING BREAK, March 11-15
03-19 Annotated Citation for Blume Article DUE
03-26 Workshop for Major Composition 2 (Annotated Bibliography); Discuss Cheatham and Cheatham &/or Stoicheff
03-28 Documentary Notes: American Experience, "Death and the Civil War"; Hand out Coleman, Chapter 12, and KISO
04-02 Finish Documentary Notes: "Death and the Civil War"; Hand out Bierce, "The Coup de Grâce" (77-81) Reading Preview
04-04 Coleman, Chapter 12, KISO DUE; Discuss excerpt from Faust, This Republic of Suffering
04-09 Bierce, "The Coup de Grâce" (77-81) Reading Preview DUE; EXTRA CREDIT DUE; Hand out Bierce, "Killed at Resaca" (63-68) Reading Preview; LAST DAY to get feedack from me re MC 2
04-11 Major Composition 2 DUE; Finish Bierce, "The Coup de Grâce" (77-81) Reading Preview
04-16 Bierce, "Killed at Resaca" (63-68) Reading Preview DUE; Hand out Bierce, "One of the Missing" (53-62) Reading Preview
04-18 Finish "Killed at Resaca" (63-68) Reading Preview; Hand out Prompt/Rhetorical Guide for Major Composition 3 (Final Exam)
04-23 Bierce, "One of the Missing" (53-62) Reading Preview DUE
04-25 Finish Bierce, "One of the Missing" (53-62) Reading Preview; Return MC 2
04-30 TBA
05-04 Major Composition 3/Final Exam due by 5:30 PM