Introduction to Fiction

I.     Course Prefix/Number: EGL 115

       Course Name: Introduction to Fiction

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces students to study of the novel and short story in cultural, social, and historical context. Content includes terminology and methods for analyzing and evaluating fiction including form, thematic development, and narrative technique.

IV.   Learning Objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Explain the distinctive characteristics and conventions of culturally diverse works of fiction by focusing on genre, literary technique and social context;
  2. Discuss and debate multiple interpretations of fictional works by applying the methods of shared inquiry;
  3. Engage in close readings of fictional texts as support for literary interpretation in classroom discussion and written assignments.
  4. Interpret the formal elements of the novel and short story, using appropriate literary terminology;
  5. Analyze works of fiction in the context of their literary, cultural, and historical backgrounds;
  6.  Analyze the complexities of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, and/or class in fiction;
  7. Distinguish and apply multiple critical approaches to the analysis of fictional texts;

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

Readings, reflecting culturally diverse texts, may be organized according to a number of principles, including thematic, analytic and historical modes. A thematic organization would group texts according to specific literary themes. An analytic or formal organization would group texts according to different genres of fiction or different narrative techniques and styles, studying in turn the formal elements of each work. A historical organization would arrange texts chronologically in order to highlight the historical periods and development of fictional works and genres.

Sample Course Outline for EGL115: Humans and “Nature”

  1. Course Introduction: Writing about Nature and the Natural World
    1. W.S. Merwin, “Unchopping a Tree”
    2. Alice Walker, “Am I Blue” or “In Search of Our Mothers’s Gardens”
    3. Lydia Millet, “Sexing the Pheasant,” and/or “Girl and Giraffe”
  2. 19th-century “Gods” and “Monsters” : Romanticism and Transcendentalism
    1. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein
    2. Henry David Thoreau, Walking, and/or excerpts from Walden
    3. Ralph Waldo Ellison, “Nature”
    4. Luther Standing Bear, “Nature”
  3. Defining the “Human”: Scientific Racism and the Neoslave Narrative
    1. Thomas Jefferson, excerpts from Notes on the State of Virginia
    2. Toni Morrison, Beloved
  4. Late 19th-century Short Stories: Animals/Instincts
    1. Sarah Orne Jewett – Regionalism, “The White Heron”
    2. Jack London – Naturalism, “To Build a Fire”
  5. Humans and Landscapes
    1. Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge
    2. Leslie Marmon Silko, “Landscape and the Pueblo Imagination”
    3. Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
  6. Humans and/as Animals
    1. J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals or Disgrace
    2. Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
  7. Climate Fictions
    1. Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
    2. Paolo Bacigalupi, “The Tamarisk Hunter”
    3. Helen Simpson, “Diary of an Interesting Year”

VII.  Methods of Instruction

The course will be conducted through lectures, discussions, and the use of other appropriate media.  Students will read a variety of short stories and novels and demonstrate competence through papers, quizzes, test, and discussion.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students will write at least a total of twelve pages (or 3000 words) outside of class. Paper assignments should be guided by the course learning objectives.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Check with the Chairperson for current list.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Evaluation methods include grading of student essays, quizzes and exams, oral reports, and evaluating of student's participation in discussions.

Required written work:
A minimum of four critical essays of at least 750 words each, written outside of class.

XI.   Other Course Information

  • attendance policy
  • for whatever information/procedures the instructor holds the student accountable.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.