English 404.05/540.01, Courtship, Wit, and Constraint in the English Novel, 1778-1816 Fall 2005
Dr. Stephan Flores (firstname.lastname@example.org)
12:30-1:45 p.m. TTH ALB 203
http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~sflores/ 885-6156; 885-6147
TTH 10:00-11:00 a.m. & by appt. 315 Commons/125 Brink Hall
Prerequisite for undergraduates: English 102 or equivalent, and Engl 175 or 210, or permission of instructor.
These novels are preoccupied with the cultural figurations and decorum of gender and sexual relations and identities in the context of late eighteenth-century British domestic life and class/social relations. These women writers are profoundly interested in "writing" itself--the novels present different possibilities for recognizing, resisting, refiguring (and affirming) processes of writing and identification. In these works, paternal, patriarchal, and economic constraints are juxtaposed with passionate, often witty interests in transgression and social interest in developing different forms for marriage and other relationships. Our study of the following authors and novels also offers an opportunity to engage with recent scholarship on related efforts to understand these works within the history of the novel and women's writing (subjectivities) in this period: Frances Burney (Evelina, 1778/1779; Cecilia, 1782); Maria Edgeworth (Belinda, 1801), and Jane Austen, (Mansfield Park, 1814; Emma, 1816; Persuasion, 1816).
Austen, Jane. Emma. Ed. Kristin Flieger Samuelian. Broadview P, 2004. ISBN:155111321X
Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Ed. June Sturrock. Broadview P, 2001. ISBN:1551110989
Austen, Jane. Persuasion. Ed. Linda Bree. Broadview P, 1998. ISBN: 1551111314 [this text 'free' with UI bookstore purchase of the three other Broadview edition/texts as package set]
Burney, Frances. Cecilia: Memoirs of an Heiress. Oxford UP, 1999. ISBN: 0192839098
Burney, Frances. Evelina; Or, A Young Lady's Entrance into the World. In a series of letters. Ed. Susan Kubica Howard. (Broadview P, 2000) ISBN:155111237X
Edgeworth, Maria. Belinda. Ed. Kathryn J. Kirkpatrick. Oxford UP, 1999. ISBN: 0192837095
Of related interest but not required:
Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey
Burney, Frances. Camilla (1796). Oxford UP, 1999. [or see Burney's The Wanderer]
Inchbald, Elizabeth. A Simple Story (1791). Oxford UP, 1998.
Radcliffe, Ann. The Romance of the Forest (1791). Oxford UP, 1999.
Hays, Mary. The Memoirs of Emma Courtney (1796). Broadview P, 2000.
Additional primary and secondary works shall be placed on library reserve, including The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth Century Novel (Ed. Richetti, 1996), The Columbia History of the Novel (Ed. Richetti, 1994) and related editions, works, and collections of critical essays.
Class will proceed via discussion, with undergraduates and graduate students participating in rotation in “starting up” our discussion and facilitating exchange of views, research, and responses; formal course work includes a term essay, a shorter exploratory essay, a concise summary of/response to an article/essay (we'll divvy this up among the various novels), and another short critical response to a novel/topic in the context of scholarly discussion (these shorter summary/response assignments can serve as a possible first step to either the exploratory essay or the term essay)--this amounts to a manageable, focused degree of written work, and substantial, steady reading. The class may consider several different emphases, with students invited to explore a particular strand of interest.
This course (Engl 404) may be used to satisfy the pre-1800 course requirement in the undergraduate Literature and Creative Writing emphases, and it also should qualify for advisor approval to satisfy the Cultural Diversity category (because of its exclusive focus on women writers).
1. Two discussion-starter “class journal” entries: each entry comprised of either a Thesis-Statement--the Thesis-Statement presents a reasoned, interpretative, precise claim on some aspect of the text/theory in question, preferably supported by a quote or citation--or paragraph length, question or problem-posing response to some aspect of the texts/topics/issues under class discussion. These entry assignments are distributed among the class, so that nearly every class meeting will include two students sharing their entries, and also sending a copy of their entry to me via email by 9:30 a.m. that class day.
2. Critical Summary-Response in two parts/sections: the Summary (Part 1 of this assignment, 500 words) should present a straightforward, selective account of what you consider to be the assigned or chosen article/essay's/chapter's primary, most important or engaging ideas and points of argument and interpretation. After reading the essay closely at least once--and perhaps make marginal notes or separate notes as you go along to identify questions or reflect on why you consider a particular passage or concept important (for example, is it a major or new point in the argument, a significant piece of support, a summary of the opposition)--you might then explore your initial approach to the summary by determining to what extent and how the reading has influenced your views and understanding, by determining points of agreement or doubt, by determining significant questions raised by your experience with this essay, by determining the most important ideas you "take away" from the reading, and by reflecting on what you might "say back" to the author in sharing your perspective on the essay and on the novel. This process of reflection and analysis also may produce the draft material for your Response (Part 2, 500 words, titled).
As you write the summary, work from your sense of the essay's structure and content; it may be helpful to have written the gist of each paragraph--its function or purpose and a brief summary of its content (what it "does" and what it "says," usually a response to an implicit question)--to produce material to consider for the summary.
Your summary should strive to represent the original article—or an important aspect of it—accurately and fairly. Be direct and concise, take an "objective" stance and tone, use your own words to express the author's ideas (except for brief quotes), use attributive tags (such as according to Epstein or Epstein argues that) to keep the reader informed that you are expressing another's ideas, and focus the summary to produce a cohesive and coherent account. You might begin the summary by identifying the question or the problem that the reading addresses, then state the article's purpose or thesis and summarize its argument selectively point by point. Include a complete bibliographic citation to note the author, essay title, place of publication, publisher, date, and page numbers for the article.
Part 2 should express your understanding of the original essay's rhetorical strategies and premises, and the effectiveness and significance of its argument. You may also choose to extend the essay's critical perspectives by explaining its potential relevance to other aspects of the novel, or you may also read "against-the-grain" of the original argument to present a different or opposing perspective and argument based on your reading of the novel, on other critical perspectives, and on your own understanding and reasoning. Your response can be both reflective and persuasive in its emphases and aims, and our discussions and reading may inform your views. You may find it effective to compose a thesis for your response that maps out for readers the challenging, engaging, important points that you want to develop and discuss. Finally, include a complete bibliographic citation to note the author, essay title, place of publication, publisher, date, and page numbers for the article.
3. The Critical Response addresses scholarship on a novel or topic, using specific research (such as a recent published article/essay) as a point of reference and departure for further analysis. The response should present your sense of a particular topic/question/interpretative problem via your understanding of the original essay's rhetorical strategies and premises, and the effectiveness and significance of its argument. This understanding serves as a basis for composing and developing your perspective and your contribution to the implied or explicit scholarly debate. You may also choose to extend the essay's critical perspectives by explaining its potential relevance to other aspects of the novel, or you may also read "against-the-grain" of the original argument to present a different or opposing perspective and argument based on your reading of the novel, on other critical perspectives, and on your own understanding and reasoning. Your response can be both reflective and persuasive in its emphases and aims, and our discussions and reading may inform your views. You may find it effective to compose a thesis for your response that maps out for readers the challenging, engaging, important points that you want to develop and discuss. Include a complete bibliographic citation to note the author, essay title, place of publication, publisher, date, and page numbers for the article.
4. Thesis-Seeking/Problem-Posing Exploratory Essay (1600 words for undergraduates, 1900 words for graduate students, double-spaced, titled). The primary aim of this essay assignment is to engage with a novel and its critical interpretation/reception by identifying problems, developing claims and arguments, and enriching your literary understanding, interests, and commitments--this focused pursuit occurs via particular theoretical perspectives and specific interpretative practices and questions in relation to a particular novel or aspect of our reading in this course.
5. Term Essay: 2200 words, body of essay, excluding works cited page for undergraduates; 3200 words, body of essay, excluding works cited page for graduate students--double-spaced, titled. This critical essay develops ideas prompted by our study and discussion of the novels and related scholarship, informed by your perspectives and interests regarding the texts we have considered this semester. I shall attend to the ways that you select, define, and engage questions and contradictions, evaluate the essay's explanatory and analytical value (including strengths of reasoning and evidence), and consider the clarity, imagination, and grace that you demonstrate in presenting your topic, (hypo)thesis, and argument, and the extent to which your work engages with and contributes to the larger “conversation” of scholarship on the topic and novels under analysis. I do not always expect essays to conclude by "solving" such problems or by "proving" your thesis; I hope that you address interesting topics in thoughtful and useful ways. Please feel invited to confer with me during the writing process.
6. Participation in discussions (including informal writing in class). Please take advantage of opportunities to discuss your reactions, share your insights and understanding, and to listen and reply to others' ideas. Occasional group work will help to facilitate class discussion. I hope such discussion, including the discussion-starter entries noted above, will enable you to move the class in directions you find most helpful, give you opportunities to develop critical skills through collaboration, and provide for a productive, interesting exchange of perspectives and participation among the class.
7. Due dates: Each of the graded writing assignments is due at the beginning of class on the due date—work turned in later will be marked late and graded accordingly. All required graded written work is downgraded one notch (for example, B+ to B, converted to points for each assignment) for each weekday late (not just days classes meet but counting just one day for a weekend). Work submitted more than a week late will not be accepted. I will grant short extensions for medical and family emergencies--but talk with me as soon as possible to request an extension. ALWAYS KEEP EXTRA COPIES OF YOUR WORK.
8. Attendance is required. If you have no absences by the semester's end (excused or not), you will receive three bonus points; with only one absence you will receive two bonus points. Two absences will not affect your semester grade, but a third absence will lower your semester total by four points, with a five point reduction for each additional absence (for example: four absences=minus 9 points, five absences = minus 14 points); six or more absences will cause you to fail the class, regardless of your semester point total. Almost all absences will be counted--excused or not--if something extraordinary occurs, talk to me.
9. Grades: Summary-Response (30 pts); Critical Response (35 pts); Thesis-Seeking/Problem-Posing Exploratory Essay (80 pts.); Term Essay (115 pts). These required assignments add up to a maximum of 260 points. Thus 234-260 points equals an A, 208-233 equals a B, 182-207 equals a C, 156-181 equals a D, and anything below 156 merits an F. I shall also reserve bonus points based on my perceptions of the strength of your participation and efforts over the semester (up to a maximum of 5 pts.); in addition, incomplete/missing Discussion-starter journal entries will be counted against your semester grade, with the loss of four points for each missing/incomplete entry.
10. Office hours. I encourage you to confer with me--especially before assignments are due—to talk about your interests, intentions, and writing strategies. My office in Brink Hall is not accessible to the handicapped, so please let me know if you need to meet me at my office in the University Honors Program, 315 Commons. If you cannot make my regular hours, we'll arrange another time. I also welcome communicating with you by E-mail via our UI Vandalmail addresses (email@example.com).