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ENGL 5970

CRN: 13774

Spring 2016


Prof. Christopher Nagle

Sprau 709 / 387-2591



Polyamorous Literature:

Erotic & Affective Multiplicities from the Bible to Big Love





{bookmark this site, or if you forget: simply go to www.christophernagle.com 

and click on the TEACHING link, then the link for our class}


§ § § § §



The organizing theme for this new course, Polyamorous Literature, is one that will not be familiar to most of us.  Throughout the semester we will leave open the possibilities for coming to terms with – defining, refining, revising – what this broad conceptualization might mean for the study of literature and literary and cultural history, so that the term is elastic enough to provide freedom to imagine new ways to read, while grounding it with some very specific material reading practices and existing critical frameworks.  To begin, though, we might describe it briefly as a category of literary works (broadly defined) that attempt both to imagine and to accommodate multiple erotic and affective relations between individualspolyamorous, rather than simply polygamous.  At their most interesting, such works represent these non-monogamous bonds of attachment both in and between characters while exploring the broader implications of such forms of attachment on the world around them.  We might call these connections “networked relations,” or simply non-binary, or—to follow the famous literary theorist Roland Barthes, who had more than passing interest in the art of cruising—we might see them as embracing the mode of “the amorous plural,” a curious formulation we will explore in class.  And since monogamy itself, in the compelling analysis of psychologist and essayist Adam Phillips, might be seen as “a kind of moral nexus, a keyhole through which we can spy on our preoccupations” as a culture—and in his estimation, “the only serious philosophical question” (“Preface,” Monogamy)—we will have good reason to think about it as a kind of intellectual problem that haunts much of the literary landscape in a wide variety of national traditions and generic contexts. 

More simply, we might ask (as our literary and critical works will do, either explicitly or implicitly): what happens when a person develops multiple attachments of love and desire, especially if they occur simultaneously?  Obvious practical complications are likely to follow, but we will be more interested in what is not obvious.  For example, if we do not take for granted that marriage, monogamy, and what some critics call a “starvation economy” (belief that a finite quantity of love is available for everyone, and you’re in competition for your share) are “natural” states of existence for human beings in all times and places, what else might be out there for us to imagine?  Is it possible to imagine an alternate economy of abundance flourishing in its place? Or to create relationships that are structured according to different expectations—of friendship, kinship, or nonromantic partnership?  How different might literature—and life, for that matter—look if we consider other, alternate configurations of people, of their bodies and psyches, of their needs and desires, of their material activities in everyday life?  What would be the consequences of taking such imagined (and lived) relations seriously, perhaps even as alternative models for society?  And to return to the terrain of literary history: what happens to traditional narratives about “the rise of the novel” or “the anxiety of [poetic] influence” when we explore the shifting dynamics of polyamorous relations within and between texts?  If we think of promiscuity, for example, as “a synonym for creativity” (ala Tim Dean in Unlimited Intimacy), then what might be made newly visible by promiscuous readings?  These will be some of the Big Questions that will hover over our close-reading of the formal and stylistic elements—as well as the themes and historical contexts—of our literary texts.  These texts will be diverse, drawing from British, French, German, and American traditions, ranging across all the major literary genres and including visual media as well.  When possible, we will also coordinate visits (either physical or virtual) with several guest speakers to illuminate some of the key elements of our course topic. 

Students in this class will be expected to come with open, curious, adventuresome, and very hungry minds;  to come prepared to contribute something specific to every class meeting;  to post regular, weekly online responses to our readings;  to collaborate with at least one other student on one or two presentations (depending on the size of our class), each of which will include a short, supplementary essay (also collaborative) informed by some additional reading and research exploration of materials not assigned for class;  and a final project that you develop in consultation with me, which may be done either independently or collaboratively with another student in the seminar. 




This experimental seminar—the only one of its kind anywhere, to my knowledge—will be a rare and exciting opportunity for some, but it certainly is not for everyone.  The challenge of our course texts will include the very specific challenge of  “adult content” (as it is sometimes called) on a number of occasions throughout the semester.  Students will need to approach everything with an open mind regardless of individual comfort levels and personal experience.  If this requirement concerns you, please feel free to discuss your concerns with me before continuing further in the class, and feel free to bow out gracefully if you prefer.  One of our guiding assumptions is perhaps best articulated by Tim Dean:  "Thinking about sex in ethical terms requires some tolerance for boundary insecurity—tolerance, that is, for uncertainty about ones's position relative to disturbing graphic material.... Anything that curtails your capacity to think has to be a problem—an ethical as well as an intellectual problem" (Unlimited Intimacy 28).  Although this course does not focus on such material, it will make multiple appearances. 

For those who are comfortable taking such risks, please note that the point of engaging with these texts is not to endorse (on my part) or to embrace (on yours), but rather to think, to consider, and to explore.   Much of the thinking that we will try to do in this course will be “outside the box”—some would say counter-intuitive—because it will challenge many of the common sense assumptions that our culture promotes and sustains through institutions that contribute to the meaning-making of our everyday lives (church, government, education, family, etc.--what some critical theorists would refer to as ideological apparatuses). Since a quick Google search will remind you that the mantle of “common sense” is something claimed by figures as diverse as Thomas Paine and Glenn Beck, it is well worth our time to ask some questions about what exactly such a concept means, what value it has, and for whom.  

An additional note:  one of the founding premises of this course is that cultural diversity is worthy of honor and respect, and in this classroom “diversity” includes sexual diversity and gender diversity.  Though they will not be the sole categories of critical inquiry for our course, these considerations will be central to our analytical explorations. This course supports the Safe on Campus initiative, and it will work to accommodate students with disabilities, as well as those who wish to observe religious holidays.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you ever have questions or concerns regarding any of these issues, or similar ones that I might have overlooked. 



multi-poly symbol


(*somewhat flexible & subject to change as needed)



Wk. 1        Introductory Contexts for Polyamorousness

1/12:     Introduction:  “Polyamorous Modalities in Theory & Practice; or, What I Learned During Summer Vacation (at the Kinsey Institute);  Overview of Syllabus & Expectations;  An Extended Exercise

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Prepare for today's class:  

   Barash & Lipton, Ch.1: “Monogamy for Beginners” from The Myth of Monogamy (pp. 1-14)

If possible:
Easton & Hardy, The Ethical Slut (Pt. 1 / pp. 3-54)
   Phillips, Monogamy (as much as possible, read at your leisure) 

  {+ a great, brief Salon interview w/Phillips is here & attached below}

  < If time allows, check out the links here >        <Snapshot History of Poly>

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

 A Brief Survey of Polyamorous Poetics: Texts for Context (group assignments in 1st class):

{feel free to investigate these texts if you wish prior to our meeting ~ we will work with them in class}

Framing Texts (early contexts from the Western tradition):

           Bible, various:  http://www.biblicalpolygamy.com ; http://etext.virginia.edu/kjv.browse.html (for reference); http://lds.org/scriptures/gs/marriage-marry.plural-marriage?lang=eng (see esp. "Plural Marriage");

                          <interview w/Jennifer Wright Knust & excerpt from Unprotected Texts>

Dryden, from Absalom and Achitophelhttp://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/absalom.html (1-22)

 Discussion Texts (short, informal small-group-led discussions during class):

+ Shakespeare, Sonnet 20: http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/xxcomm.htm  

{Poly-personae I: Master-Mistress}

+Behn, “On Loving Two Equally”: http://www.poetry-archive.com/b/on_her_loving_two_equally.html 

{Poly-personae II: Nymph & Swain}                                 

+“To the Fair Clarinda”: http://www.poetry-archive.com/b/to_the_fair_clarinda.html     

{Divided Affection: The Female Complaint}

+Rochester, “Love a Woman?”: http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/show/55271-Lord-John-Wilmot-Song ;

 {Libertine Polyamory: The Male Complaint}

+“Signior Dildo”: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/dildo.html ;

 {Restoration Poly-Utopia: Material & Object-ified}

+Shelley, from “Epipsychidion” [Stanza XI]: http://ece.uprm.edu/artssciences/ingles/nb-epipsychidion.htm

 {Romantic Poly-Utopia: Ideal & Theoretical}

Browning, “Porphyria’s Lover”: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/porphyria-s-lover/;

 {Implied Adultery: The Threat of the Third}

“My Last Duchess”: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/my-last-duchess/   

 {Serial (Killer) Monogamy: The Specter of the Third}


Wk. 2   Early Modern Touchstones: The Man of Feeling, The Harem, and Cosmopolitan Desire

 1/19:    LECTURE: Samuel Richardson & the (Poly) Origins of the Novel

                  {Featuring Guest Speaker: Courtney Wennerstrom (Indiana U.)}                            

     Sterne, Sentimental Journey  

          **P.B. Shelley, “On Love” (& revisit “Epipsychidion” [Stanza XI])

                                                                                                                       {An SJ "Wordle" can be viewed here}

 OED definition of sensibility (for our context)  

Critical Supplements:

 **Freeman, "Still After"

  **Nagle, "Sensibility's Pleasures of Proximity"



                         <parallel readingAgainst Love (3-51)>


 Wk.3     Love for Sale: Libertinism, Prostitution & the Economics of Poly-relations


Behn, The Rover, Pt. I: http://drama.eserver.org/plays/17th_century/rover/  

PRINT OUT TEXT (it should be 54p. if double-sided printing used) or simply use a cheap trade edition if you prefer (Penguin, Broadview, etc.)      

              Critical Supplement:

**Braunschneider, from Our Coquettes: Capacious Desire in the 18th Century [PDF below]

                     <LINK to Rover production pics>


2/2:         Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [Fanny Hill] 

**make sure that you have the proper, unexpurgated edition!**                     

               Critical Supplements:  

                       **Richetti, "Introduction" to The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth-Century Novel;  

                       **Rosenthal, "Introduction" to Nightwalkers [to be emailed/not below]

            <A Few Related Links>


[+ film clips in class (recent Davies adaptation)]




 Wk.5     Dangerous Liaisons: Divided Affections & Multiple Attachments
Ethical Slut

  2/9:       Austen, Mansfield (35-241) + 469-75 (Lovers' Vows excerpt)



  Map of Mansfield                

Critical Supplements (for both classes):

**Heydt-Stevenson, "Slipping into the Ha-Ha" (esp. 323-32)

**Moretti, from Graphs, Maps, and Trees 

**Lynch, from "JA and Greenhouse Romanticism" (esp. 714-19)

2/11:  LYNCH EVENT (click for info!)     


2/16:            Austen, Mansfield (242-468)   



     (currently streaming on Netflix--and in Waldo Library on DVD)

[we will use film clips in class from the adaptation]

      <See here for info on FILMS & some related essays>                            

BETTER STILL: Claudia Johnson's preface to the Rozema screenplay  

--& note the Interview w/Rozema as well! (PDF below)**        

Blake-Stedman illustration
Blake, after Stedman


 2/23:      Goethe, Elective Affinities       [+ Pt.2 of 1993 Italian film adaptation (tentative)]     

poly couple shadows                  Critical Supplements: **excerpts from Tanner, Adultery in the Novel

                 **Benjamin's earlier essay on the novel [PDF below, for overachievers] 

        <parallel reading: Against Love (52-104)>

                                                                   "Two's company,  but three's a couple."— Phillips, Monogamy

Wk.8  Theory Interlude: Zones of Contact

3/1:           Samuel Delany, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue** (links sent via email)



3/8:          SPRING BREAK 

Wk.10           Poly-Hell:  Seduction, Betrayal, Cuckoldry, Bigamy

3/15:            Miller, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan  

**Critical Reading: Bersani, “Against Monogamy” [PDF]  



 films to screen before class: Dangerous Liaisons (1988; 120m) ;                        

                                                               Cruel Intentions (1999; 97m) [if time allows]



        **Primary Readings (short fiction)

                              Denon, “No Tomorrow” + Cusset introduction [PDF]; 

                              Sade, "Augustine" and "Chastised Husband" [separate PDFs]

**Critical Reading: Feher, “Libertinisms” [PDF]

                 <Ethical Slut 133-188>  


Wk.12   {Featuring Guest Visitor: Courtney Wennerstrom (Indiana U.)}

3/29:   Sade, Philosophy in the Boudoir [including Introduction]

  **Critical Readings: Beauvoir from "Must We Burn Sade?" (very short excerpt/handout)

                                      Gallop, "The Immoral Teachers" [PDF]

                                      Wennerstrom, "Legacies of Tortured Sensibility"

                       LINK TO LIBERTINISM DEF. (OED)

Wk.13     Poly Utopias: Sexual Diversity in Pop Culture; or, 'the Multiple Must Be Made!'

4/5:        Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen/2008/93m) 

                          [in class, followed by discussion]

     **Critical Reading

      Roulston, "Having it Both Ways: The 18th-Century Menage a Trois" [PDF]

couple ISO bi fem


4/12:            selected scenes from The L Word                        


     **Critical Reading: Berlant & Warner, "Sex in Public" [PDF--n.b.: it's listed under title rather than authors]

                                                       + selections from The Lesbian Polyamory Reader [PDF]

<Interview with creator Ilene Chaiken & Jennifer Beals (Bette)>(20 min.)


     <Interview w/Ilene Chaiken & Laurel Holloman (Tina)> (5 min.)



      <NPR story on end of L Word, absence of lesbians on TV> (30 min.)


               CLIP of one version of The Chart's intro (retooled by a fan) 

            ad for OurChart (when TV & social media networking merged for the 1st time)


4/19:             selected episodes from Big Love                      {Season 4 Title Sequence} NEW LINK!


      <NPR review>  (3 min.)      

<Interview w/creators: "Marriage X3...with a string of feminism"> (26 min.)     

                            <Interview w/Bill Paxton> (20 min.)



< Stanley Fish's NYT blog on BL: "Looking for Someone to Like" >                

  <Against Love, Ch.4: "...And the Pursuit of Happiness"(143-201)>

     [Final Projects Due: *Wed., 4/27 by email to me* (unless other arrangements have been made)]






Print Texts:

§ Phillips, Monogamy (Vintage) ISBN: 9780679776178

§ Easton & Hardy, The Ethical Slut [2nd ed.] (Celestial Arts): ISBN: 9781587613371

§ Kipnis, Against Love (Vintage) ISBN: 9780375719325

§ Sterne, Sentimental Journey and Other Writings (Hackett) ISBN: 9780872208001

§ Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [Fanny Hill]  (Oxford UP) ISBN: 9780199540235

§ Austen, Mansfield Park (Broadview) ISBN: 9781551110981

§ Goethe, Elective Affinities (Oxford UP) [must have Constantine transl.!] ISBN: 9780199555369

§ Sade, Philosophy in the Boudoir (Penguin) [Neugroschel trans./Gray intro.] ISBN: 9780143039013

§ Miller, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (Penguin) ISBN: 9780140482362


Online Texts:

§ Behn, The Rover, Pt. I (lots of cheap paperback editions available if you prefer: Broadview, Penguin, Oxford, etc.); for your convenience, a PDF copy is appended below.

§  various others as listed on syllabus 


** I will provide additional print copies and PDF files or links to electronic texts to supplement the print books available in the campus bookstore (or, often at a substantial discount, from a local used book store or the online merchant of your choice); these additional texts are labeled with asterisks on the syllabus.  Supplementary texts for background and recommended further reading will be provided through a separate link in the online syllabus.  Note that you may often want to print these out, especially in the case of longer texts (especially if you are uncomfortable staring at a screen for hours on end) – all students have an allotment of pages they can print for free at the computer labs on campus (600 total, last I heard), which you should take advantage of when needed.



Online citation references (including MLA style, which should be our default) can be found here (thank you, Waldo Library):  http://www.wmich.edu/library/citing





Attendance & Participation:  This is the most important requirement of the course in my eyes.  Taking this class seriously requires timely attendance and active participation, plain and simple.  I expect the course to provide an opportunity for discussion and exchange of ideas amongst all of us, so you need to be here—at the beginning of class—in order to participate.  In other words, I always expect to see you in class. Exceptions may be made in extreme circumstances, of course, and I will be happy to discuss such occasions with you if they occur.  Since we only meet once per week, this will be the formula: for each absence you accrue beyond the first, your final grade will be lowered by 1/2 grade (AB to B, C to DC, etc.).  If you miss three or more classes (i.e., three full weeks of class) you automatically fail the course.  Late arrivals and early departures will work similarly:  3 of these = 1 absence.  You always are responsible for what you miss in class on days for which you are absent.  You may not make up missed in-class assignments, which may include writing exercises and/or quizzes on the readings.  In practice, most of our class time will incorporate discussion fed by collaborative work—student presentations, small and large group exercises, in addition to occasional mini-lectures from me—so it will be impossible to make up this element of shared learning with your peers. Your class participation grade will consist of additional credit added or deducted at the end of the course for your daily participation throughout the semester.  Thus, it obviously will be in your best interest to be an active participant every day.  The point of all of the above is not intended to be punitive -- the real point is that our class will only be as productive, engaging, and worthwhile as its participants make it.  


Conference Topics/Online Responses:  You will compose regular, short responses to the readings for each class at: http://www.nicenet.org -- another site that you should bookmark.  These responses will serve several purposes: to give you a forum to share thoughts and questions before we discuss the material in class together; to begin generating ideas that you can develop more fully in your essays; and to provide the virtual “backbone” to our collaborative endeavors (including my own) to explore key issues in our reading.  As a rule, I probably will try to stay out of the conversation, at least at the beginning of class, although I will provide some topics and issues to explore periodically, and I will be an active reader always.  In addition to writing at least one of your own posts each week, you need to read and respond to at least one of your classmates’ posts as well.   For the grade-conscious:  for an A-level grade, your goal should be a minimum of 250 words (approximately the number of words in this section of the syllabus that you are reading right now) for each of your main posts and a minimum of 100 words for your responses.  But please note:  quality will be more important to me than quantity, so make your contributions count rather than just counting words!  The two ground rules: be thoughtful about truly substantive issues in the material and be courteous to your classmates.  One general rule:  craft (and revise) your posts in a Word document for clarity and for safety (in case you lose your connection or time-out while on Nicenet) and then cut-and-paste it online.  See below for more on Nicenet access and (n)etiquette.  Contributions should be posted at least 24-48 hours before we meet for class, thus allowing for adequate time for all of us to read and respond before meeting face-to-face.  This component will make up the bulk of your writing for this class, so please be sure to take it seriously.  


Oral/In-class: each student will make one or two joint presentations of course material with a partner.  Presentations should last for approximately 20 minutes or so, which you are likely to find passing far more quickly than you might imagine. (If the occasion arises that your plans require more time, feel free to consult me in advance.) Your principal goal will be to provide a thoughtful, creative approach that leads to productive discussion and debate illuminating our readings for the day (generally through the introduction of additional reading that contextualizes our primary text).  Props, visual aids, and interactive class activities are encouraged--as long as they are genuinely useful and not mere gimmicks.  You should consult with me prior to your presentation, preferably at least one week before you are scheduled to present. 

Written/Follow-up:  as a supplement to the oral component of each presentation, you will produce a short (4-5p.) collaborative essay that explores significant issues raised from the day's discussion of our readings. Think of this exercise not as a "summary" or "report" of what was discussed that day, but rather as an opportunity to explore unfinished business (intriguing ideas that our discussion raised, aspects of the material that were left unexamined, particularly striking conflicts or contrasts in the ways that people approached the material, etc.).  They can reflect on our class, but they should move beyond simply culling from your notes for the day and offer as much development of your own ideas as possible in that limited space.  These essays will be due no later than one week after your oral presentation.  Be sure to turn them in on time (or better, early!), in electronic form (not hardcopy), after having carefully proofread, spell-checked, paginated, and formatted according to MLA guidelines (see above for a handy library link), etc.  

Final Project:  there will be a final project for the course, which will encourage you to engage both critically and creatively with our core readings and issues raised in the seminar.  More details will be provided later in the semester.


Your Grade:  Your final grade will be based on your participation in class (including contributions to each class meeting, any quizzes, as well as your Nicenet postings), your one or two collaborative presentations (each of which will include an essay supplementary to the oral component), and the final project.  Participation will be worth 35%, presentations (with essays included) make up a total of 40%, and the final project is worth 25%.  Absences will be factored in at the end.  For those who prefer a visual representation for clarity:



§ Participation (including Online Responses & Quizzes)                               35%

§ Presentation (in-class + follow-up Essay [20% for each part])                    40%

§ Final Project                                                                                                  25%


Neither final grades nor grades on individual assignments are negotiable, but I will always be happy to schedule a time to talk with you individually about the grades you receive as well as your progress in class generally. Do not wait until the last minute (or end of the semester) to approach me if you are having concerns or difficulties.  I will make myself available to you regularly so that we can discuss your performance in class or ideas you have about the material.  Don't hesitate to ask--that's one of the best and most important parts of my job as a professor!

Grading Scale:  I approach grades traditionally: A’s are reserved for the most exceptional work (thus, by definition they are rare rather than common); B’s are for good (i.e., better than average) work;  C’s are for work that is satisfactory and fulfills the minimal requirements;  anything less will yield a D/E, with failing grades being reserved for work that is incomplete or incoherent or both, and unlike D work, shows no sign of serious effort.  (I don't expect to see any of these grades in our class, but we must allow for the possibility.)  Please remember that outstanding effort is no guarantee of a high grade, although it is one of the best predictors for most people;  similarly, inadequate effort on assignments is a fairly good predictor of failure, or at best a very low passing grade.

                        A=94-100                        B=84-87                          C=74-77                            D=64-68

                        BA=88-93                        CB=78-83                       DC=69-73                          E=63 or less



Other Important Related Issues:           


E-mailYou must be sure to have an active e-mail account from WMU that you check regularly, preferably daily.  This is the quickest and most reliable means of getting in contact with each other and with me, especially in case of late-breaking news (such as information about textbooks, last-minute class cancellation, or anything else that is vital for us to share ASAP).  In sum: if you have other non-university accounts (as most of us do), you still need your WMU account as well to ensure reliable communication during class.


Conference Topics/Online Responses: Your first step for this class—after getting your books and logging in to your WMU email account—is to go to the website where we will be posting our regular reading responses: http://www.nicenet.org --then, click “Join a Class” and enter the “key” (provided in my email to you) to log-in as a student in our class.  The process is quite easy, but if you run into any problems, let me know ASAP.  Here are some additional pointers from my colleague, Prof. Allen Webb, a leading expert on teaching literature with technology: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~acareywe/engl480nicenet.html.  You might want to bookmark his page as well.


Class Rules:  since I know many of you already, I'm tempted to treat the following as unnecessary, but for the sake of thoroughness, I'll just make it brief: whenever you are in class, I expect your mental/intellectual presence, not merely your physical presence--thus, sleeping, making or receiving phone calls, and engaging in texting, IM, email, online activity unrelated to class, or anything else that distracts you from our important activities will not be tolerated.  In the unlikely event any of the above occur, you may be asked to leave the class.  See Attendance & Participation above.  And, of course, I always expect our discussions in class to be civil and respectful of each other without exception.  


Late Work:  simple—I will not accept it unless you have made special arrangements with me (for some legitimately compelling reason) prior to the due date.  No exceptions will be made otherwise.  Again, I don't expect such problems to arise.


WMU Writing Center:  For those who have the need or desire, this service can be invaluable (even if you don't have major problems with your writing). The website lists all the information you’ll need: http://www.wmich.edu/casp/writingcenter/   ph: 387-4615.

Student Conduct, Academic Honesty, and Accommodations:

Students are responsible for making themselves aware of and understanding the University policies and procedures that pertain to Academic Honesty. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. The academic policies addressing Student Rights and Responsibilities can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog at http://catalog.wmich.edu/content.php?catoid=24&navoid=974 and the Graduate Catalog at http://catalog.wmich.edu/content.php?catoid=25&navoid=1030  If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s) and if you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with your instructor if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test. In addition, students are encouraged to access the Code of Honor, as well as resources and general academic policies on such issues as diversity, religious observance, and student disabilities:

        Office of Student Conduct  www.wmich.edu/conduct

        Division of Student Affairs  www.wmich.edu/students/diversity

        Registrar’s Office  www.wmich.edu/registrar and www.wmich.edu/registrar/policies/interfaith

        Disability Services for Students  www.wmich.edu/disabilityservices.


Federal law and WMU policy prohibit sexual harassment, sexual assault, non-consensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation, harm to others, stalking, intimate partner violence and retaliation. By law, when campus officials are aware that such behavior occurs, they must investigate and take action to protect students’ safety. According to WMU’s new sexual assault policy, most WMU employees are not confidential resources, which means that information you share may be shared with campus investigators, whether you want this to happen or not. 


Many victims/survivors prefer to seek confidential support and services. The YWCA offers 24/7, free support, which will inform and empower you to decide what options to pursue—emotional support, evidence collection (rape kit), pregnancy and STI tests, emergency contraception, counseling, filing a police report, seeking a protection order, initiating criminal prosecution, and/or reporting to WMU. The YWCA crisis line, available 24 hours, is (269) 385-3587.


If you’ve experienced sexual or gender-based violence, and wish to have WMU investigate and take action, you may contact the Office of Institutional Equity directly at (269) 387-6316, or ask someone (preferably someone you trust) to report on your behalf. 

Reading Expectations; or, On Reading Well According to Nagle

For those of you who have had me for class before (which, as it turns out, is many of you), this information is already familiar--and for grad students, I certainly expect it to be unnecessary.  Still, it will help to ensure that we're all beginning on the same page.  One of the most important factors that will predict your success in this class is the degree to which you take the reading seriously. This means not merely that I expect you to do all of it—which of course I do—but that I also expect you to do it well.  Be prepared to put a good deal of time and effort into reading all works—whether long or short, obviously complex or seemingly more simple.  (As a general rule, this is especially true for poetry, of which we will see fairly little during the semester.)  When you read for class, don’t assume the only thing you need is your book, whether codex or electronic. As serious students of literature, you should always read with a pen or pencil in hand, either marking your text directly, adding post-it notes on which you write, or taking notes in a separate notebook (if you have a Kindle or similar device, this process obviously works differently--I recommend taking a look at Jacobs' The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction [Oxford UP, 2011] for some thoughts on this conundrum, but of course you're free to devise your own best system for e-notetaking). Unless you have a photographic memory, you will not be prepared to engage in meaningful class discussion—which I expect in every meeting—without a detailed and specific sense of what took place on the pages you read for that day. For example: make a habit of summarizing key elements of the plot, making note of primary and secondary characters, of significant shifts in setting, of key themes and images that emerge or recur (n.b: this list is meant to be suggestive, not exhaustive). Also take the time to note questions or ideas you have as you go along—think of this process as a dialog or conversation with the text, something with which you actively engage not passively witness.  Use the margins of the page, the inside covers, a separate notebook, or your laptop (if you must) -- whatever works best for you.  And always take note of specific page numbers or line numbers! 


On these and other matters you wish to discuss with me, please feel free to contact me any time by email—the best and quickest way to reach me—or to stop by during office hours (by appointment). 





{‘The Chart’: a Case Study in (Post)Modern Polyamorousness} 

[follow link & scroll down until you find THE CHART, which we will explore more directly during Wk.14]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 


Good 'snapshot history' w/photo gallery:



Deborah Anapol's site, Love Without Limits: http://www.lovewithoutlimits.com (sadly, Deborah died recently, so this is now a tribute page--I had hoped to have her Skype in to join us for class)

Her blog at Psychology Todayhttp://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-without-limits

Dr. Meg John Barker (Open University/UK):  http://www.open.ac.uk/people/mjb2276

Loving Morehttp://www.lovemore.com/

The Polyamory Paradigm blog: http://polyamoryparadigm.blogspot.com/

The Polyamory Project:  http://thepolyamoryproject.wordpress.com/

Polyday (UK group): http://www.polyday.org.uk Pedestrian Poly

Serolynne's site (a variety of links in addition to this page): http://www.serolynne.com/poly_complex.htm [no link]

Tristan Taormino's site: http://openingup.net/

Franklin Veaux's site, More than Two:  http://www.morethantwo.com/


[n.b.: this is a continually revised project]

(this is more playful & humorous, but still useful)

Cereal Monogamy

Christopher Nagle,
Sep 8, 2011, 7:11 PM
Christopher Nagle,
Jan 24, 2016, 2:18 PM
Christopher Nagle,
Sep 10, 2011, 8:46 PM
Christopher Nagle,
Jan 12, 2016, 11:26 AM
Christopher Nagle,
Sep 19, 2011, 11:07 PM
Christopher Nagle,
Mar 1, 2016, 7:58 PM