“The Allusive John Wesley Harding” – a course at Central Connecticut State University



Some of you may feel you’ve been taking this course for years, and it’s nice that someone finally bothered to lay it out.

Others may suspect I’ve put this together as an elaborate “Confessions of St Ace”-like hoax

But no! This is Professor Gilbert Gigliotti’s course at CCSU and I’d like to thank him for considering the novels and music worthy of study.

I look forward to talking to them on February 28th!



ENG 214-01: Studies in World Literature –

The Allusive John Wesley Harding/Wesley Stace

Spring 2013

MW 10:50-12:05 Willard Hall 311

Dr. Gilbert L. Gigliotti, CCSU English Department


Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

Recognize the chronology of the major songs, albums, criticism, and novels of the songwriter and novelist Wesley Stace (a.k.a John Wesley Harding);

Explain some of the specific influences (literary, musical, historical, and artistic) on his songs and novels;

Discuss the literary techniques characteristic of the writer’s lyrics and novels; and

Write coherent and cogent analyses, using textual support and appropriate academic conventions and language, about the writer’s novels, songs, and criticism.



M Jan 14 Introduction to class: Syllabus, Expectations, and Requirements

Outline of career of John Wesley Harding/Wesley Stace

Bob Dylan, “John Wesley Harding” (1967)

John Wesley Harding, “Top of the Bottom” (2009)

“Window Seat” (1998)

W Jan 16   Mike Tony, “John Wesley Harding: How Not to Be a Dick” (2012)

JWH, “A Cozy Promotional Chat” (1989)

Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil” (1968)

JWH, “The Devil in Me” (1989)

JWH, “Nothing at All” (2004)


M Jan 21    Martin Luther King Day No Class


W Jan 23   Bob Dylan, “Song to Woody” (1962)

“Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues” (1964)

JWH, “Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Steve Goodman, David Blue and Me” (1986)

“Bastard Son” (1989)

“Talking Return of the Great Folk Scare Blues” (1994)

“Making Love to Bob Dylan” (2012)

“Musical Influence” assignment due

M Jan 28   *   John Lennon, “Mother” (1970)

JWH, “Famous Man” (1988)

Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” (1985)

JWH, “July 13th 1985” (1988)

JWH, “Election Night” (1994)

JWH, “There’s a Starbucks Where the Starbucks Used to Be” (2011)


W Jan 30 Martial, De Spectaculis Liber I (81 c.e.)

Epigrammaton, Liber I x-xii, xxxvii-xl; II.xx-xxviii; III. Lxix-lxxi

(86-88 c.e.)

JWH, “Skyscrapers of Memphis” (1993)

“Humble Bee” (2000)


M Feb 4   *   Hesiod, Works and Days, 42-106 (c.700 b.c.e.)

 Theogony, 561-616 (c.700 b.c.e.)

JWH, “Oh, Pandora” (2009)


W Feb 6     Apuleius, Cupid and Psyche from The Golden Ass (2nd Century c.e.)

JWH, “Cupid and Psycho” (1996)

M Feb 11 Paper 1 due

Wesley Stace, “Introduction,” The Haunted House (2004)

JWH, “Sussex Ghost Story” (2004)


W Feb 13 Wesley Stace, By George (2007)


M Feb 18  Presidents’ Day No Class


W Feb 20 By George 


M Feb 25 By George


W Feb 27 By George


R  Feb 28 Evening Appearance of John Wesley Harding/Wesley Stace

 at CCSU!  Attendance Required


M Mar 4 Paper II due: Reflection on the Visit or Album Cover/Title Paper

“Anonymous 1916” (1991)

“Little Musgrave” (1999)


W Mar 6 Wesley Stace, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer (2010)


M Mar 11 Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer


W Mar 13 Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer

M Mar 18 Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer


W Mar 20   * Erasmus, Abbatis et eruditae (1518)

JWH, “The Colloquy of Mole and Mr. Eye” (1999/2011)

John, 11:1-44 (c. 90-100 c.e.)

JWH, “Sorry, Lazarus” (2001)


M Mar 25

      } Spring Break! No Class

W Mar 27


M Apr 1 No class (in exchange for February 28th concert event)


W Apr 3   * John Donne, “Negative Love” (c.1600)

JWH, “Negative Love” (2004)


M Apr 8   John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I.84-270 and 622-751 (1674)

JWH, “My Favourite Angel” (2009)


W Apr 10   JWH, “Miss Fortune” (1998) 

“The Ballad of Miss Fortune” (2006)

Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book IV.285-388

The Love Hall Tryst, “Lord Lovel” (2005)


M Apr 15 Wesley Stace, Misfortune (2005)


W Apr 17 Misfortune 


M Apr 22 Misfortune


W Apr 24 Misfortune


M Apr 29 Misfortune


W May 1 JWH, “The End” (2009)


W May 8 Paper III due by 1:00 PM


Required Texts

Stace, Wesley.  By George.  Back Bay Books, 2007.


– – , Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer. Picador, 2011.


– – , Misfortune. Back Bay Books, 2006.



Grading Breadown

Musical Influence Gloss   5%

In-Class Writings (4) 20%

Paper I 15%

Paper II . 15%

Paper III: 25%

Reading/Listening Quizzes (unannounced) 10%

Attendance and participation 10%


Description of Assignments 

Musical Influence Gloss (5%)

Joan Baez

The Band

Elizabeth Barraclough

David Blue

Leonard Cohen

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott

Steve Goodman

Nic Jones

Joni Mitchell

Phil Ochs

John Prine

Townes Van Zandt

Suzanne Vega

Neil Young

Warren Zevon


For their assigned musical influence, students need to submit the following:

  1. a) Artist’s (real where applicable) name and dates (birth, death and/or floruit) or,

in the case of a group, all members’ names and dates

b) Titles and years of release of his/her/their most popular and/or influential songs (and/or albums)

c) A link to and title of a video from youtube (or some other similar website) of a

representative song by the artist accompanied by


d) a sentence explaining why the song is representative of the artist.


e) Works cited list (not including Wikipedia)

In-class Writings (20%)

Four (4) in-class responses to a specific question about the assigned texts/songs for that class.  The answers, to be assessed using the attached rubric, should directly address the question by offering textual evidence.


Possible Paper I Topics (15%)

  1. I. Compare/Contrast some significant aspect(s) of designated JWH’s lyric with the proposed short story/essay/poem/film
  1. a) “The Fall of the House of Harding” with E. A. Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher” (1839)
  2. b) “The Celestial Shuttle” with N. Hawthorne’s “Celestial Railroad” (1843)
  3. c) “Goth Girl” and Sarah Vowell’s “American Goth” (from Take the Cannoli, 2001)
  4. d) “Orpheus Must Die” Tuatara (with JWH) and Vergil’s “Orpheus and Eurydice” from Georgics, Book IV (29 BCE)
  5. e) “Sleeper Awake” and “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood” (1697)
  6. f) “Humankind” and the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  7. g) “For an Actress” and the film Rear Window (1954)


  1. II. The “Why?” Question
  1. a) “The Examiners” – why was JWH attracted to this poem as a lyric for a song?
  2. b) “Roy Orbison Knows” – why Roy Orbison?
  3. c) “The Robert Frost Rag” – why Robert Frost?


  1. III. Criticism

What are some of the representative themes in Wesley Stace’s reviews of biographies of Prince, Neil Young, David Bowie and Bob Dylan?

Possible Paper II Topics (15%)

  1. I. Using the song 1996 “Heart without a Home” from John Wesley Harding’s New Deal, create some piece (artistic/video/performance/literary) for the 18 April 2013 (1-8 PM) University-Museum-Community (UMC) Collaborative event at The New Britain Museum of American Art.


  1. II. Research and discuss a particular aspect of one of the following JWH album covers (and titles)

Why We Fight

Confessions of St. Ace

Who was Changed and Who was Dead


  1. III. Write a reflection on the visit to/performance at CCSU by John Wesley Harding/Wesley Stace


  1. IV. Answer Question 3, 4, or 10 in the back section of By George.


  1. V. Create a Youtube video for any of the John Wesley Harding songs on the syllabus thus far.



Paper III (25%)


An analysis of either:

  1. a) one song from Songs of Misfortune within the context of the novel or


b)   one myth from Ovid’s Metamorphoses within the context of the novel


Reading/Listening Quizzes (unannounced) 10%


Participation and Attendance (10%)

Students can miss up to two classes during the course of the semester, but, given the timeliness of the assignment, not on the day of an in-class essay.  These absences may be related to illness, “better offers,” or even sloth, with little penalty. If students miss three or more, however, their grades may well be affected negatively.  The other half of this grade is participation (i.e., what students do after showing up for class: demonstrating their preparation by asking pertinent questions, answering questions, respectfully challenging the professor’s and fellow students’ interpretations, volunteering to read aloud, etc.).  Even attending every class is still only half this grade.  Nota bene: Students cannot receive full credit for this grade without attending the JWH/Wesley Stace event on 2/28/13.

Contact Information

Gilbert L. Gigliotti


CCSU Department of English

Emma Hart Willard Hall 329