Major British Writers II: English 202, Section 3
Fall 1999, TR 1:40 p.m. - 2:55 p.m.

Schedule of Classes | Web Resources | Bulletin Board


Professor Karin Westman
74 George Street, #101; 953-5658
Office Hours: M, W 1:30-2:30 p.m.; R 10-12 noon; and by app't.
Required Texts:
The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2, 6th ed.
Shelley, Frankenstein (Norton Critical Edition)
Barker, Regeneration (Vintage)
Stoppard, Arcadia
Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 6th ed. (Highly recommended)

Official Course Description:
Intensive study of major works of representative authors, including Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, Yeats, Eliot, and one 19th- or 20th-century novel. Emphasis on close reading and analysis rather than on literary history. Lectures on intellectual background.
Course Objectives:
This semester we will study a representative sample of British authors since 1800. We will consider the works in terms of form and the historical context of their cultural production, exploring the often contested relationship between life and art. Our goal is twofold: familiarity with a canon of British literature and further practice in literary analysis and interpretation. This course depends for its success on careful reading and your participation in discussions.

Requirements and General Expectations:
Readings: You are expected to complete each reading assignment before coming to class. You are further expected to think carefully about what you read and to make notes in your book prior to each class meeting. Bring the appropriate book or xeroxes to class each day and additionally mark passages that we discuss; this process will help you understand, remember, and review.
Class Participation and Attendance: Although this may be a large class, you will be asked to participate regularly in class discussions and in collaborative learning groups. Your attendance is therefore important. You will not be penalized for your first three absences; thereafter, your final course grade will drop one grade increment (i.e., B+ to B) for each day missed. Excessive unexcused absences (five or more) may result in failure of the course. While I appreciate your offering explanations for absences, the only way to excuse an absence is to provide me with an official letter from your dean or from the Health Center.
Quizzes: Occasional short (10 minute) quizzes consisting of identifications and interpretive questions will help you improve your close reading skills and to evaluate your comprehension of the material. Quizzes are noted on the syllabus; I also reserve the right to administer further quizzes as necessary, or change a quiz into a take-home close reading response. Grades from reading quizzes will be averaged at the end of the semester. (I will drop the lowest quiz grade before calculating your final grade.) Should you be absent on the day of a quiz, you will receive a zero, unless the absence is excused.
Papers: You will write two papers (4-5 pages in length). The papers are due at the time the class meets. Late papers will be penalized one full grade (i.e., B to C) for each day late. More information about these two papers follows the syllabus.
Presentations: At the designated times on the syllabus, class will begin with a brief (no more than 10 minute) group presentation. These presentations will provide some of the socio-historical context we do not have time to cover in depth during our class discussion. There will be 3-5 people per group; your group will be responsible for introducing us to the subject at hand, telling us of its importance, and how it relates to our readings. Each group should meet with me a week prior to the day of the report for guidance and discussion of your work. Each student will write up a two-page report (to be turned in the day of the presentation) describing the significance of the particular subject and noting two to three helpful sources. Your grade for the presentation will be part of your class participation grade. The topics are:
The Reform Bills
The Reception of Darwin's The Descent of Man
The Victorian Woman
The Victorian Gentleman
The Trial of Oscar Wilde
Post-Impressionist Art
Electronic Bulletin Board: Beginning the first week of class, I'll establish an electronic bulletin board for our class. Each week, each student is required to post at least one paragraph-length comment about the materials we're studying in class. I will monitor these discussions and assess a grade (at the end of the semester) based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness both to our readings and to your classmates' comments in class and on the list. Your postings do not need to be long; however, they need to be substantive: they must be long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments, as appropriate. I will offer models of helpful comments early in the semester. Your grade for these postings will become part of your class participation grade.
Examinations: You will have a midterm and a cumulative final exam. A missed exam counts as a zero; no make-up exams will be offered without a dean's excuse.
Conferences: There are no mandatory conferences for this course. I encourage you, however, to stop by during office hours, particularly before an assignment is due. Please also consider stopping by during the first few weeks of class for a brief (and very informal) conference. If you have any specific questions or concerns about the course or the readings, bring them with you, but no agenda is necessary: this is simply a way to get to know each other. Please see me to make an appointment if my office hours are not convenient for you.
Paper #1 10%
Paper #2 10%
Quizzes 15%
Class Participation 20%
Presentation 5%
Postings 5%
In-class 10%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 25%

Schedule of Classes (Subject to change)
[Unless otherwise indicated by (x) for xerox, readings are found in a required book.]
The Romantic Period (1785-1830)
T 24
R 26
Introduction: Condition of England in Life and Art, c.1800
"The Romantic Period" (1-17); William Wordsworth (126-29):
"A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal" (155); "Lucy Gray" (156); "I
Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" (186-7); "Tintern Abbey" (136-40);
excerpts from "Preface" to Lyrical Ballads (140-52) Quiz
T 31
R 2
Wordsworth, "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" (187-193);
excerpts from The Prelude, Books I (205-222), II (227), VII
(251-254), X-XIV (259-279, 284-286)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (323-26): "The Eolian Harp," "This
Lime Tree Bower My Prison," "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "Kubla Khan" (326-49); Coleridge, "Frost at Midnight" (365-6),
"Dejection: An Ode" (366-70); excerpts from Biographia
Literaria (377, 383-95) Quiz
T 7
R 9
Mary Wollstonecraft, excerpts from Vindication of the Rights of
Woman (98-126)
Percy Bysshe Shelley (643-7): "Mont Blanc" (666-69), "Hymn
to Intellectual Beauty" (670-1), "To a Skylark" (710-12), and
excerpts from A Defense of Poetry (752-65) Quiz
T 14
R 16
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein Quiz
John Keats (766-9): "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer,"
"Sleep and Poetry," "On Seeing the Elgin Marbles," from
"Endymion: A Poetic Romance," "On Sitting Down to Read King
Lear...," "When I Have Fears...," "To Homer" (769-76)
M 20
T 21
Paper #1 due by 12 noon to my office.
Keats, "Ode to a Nightingale," "Ode on a Grecian Urn," "Ode on
Melancholy" (790-5), "To Autumn" (813-4), and excerpts from
Keats' Letters (828-44)
The Victorian Age (1830-1901)
R 23
"The Victorian Age" (891-910); Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1052-56): "The Kraken" (1056); "The Lady of Shalott," "The
Lotus-Eaters," "Ulysses" (1069), "Locksley Hall" (1073-9); Thomas
Carlyle (910-15), excerpts from "Past and Present" (965-74) Quiz
Presentation: The Reform Bills
T 27
R 29
Tennyson, excerpts from In Memoriam A. H. H. (1084-1132);
"Evolution" and excerpts from Darwin's Descent of Man
Presentation: The Reception of Darwin's Descent of Man
Robert Browning (1182-7): "My Last Duchess" (1190-2) and
"Caliban upon Sebetos" (1243-50); "Industrialism: Progress or
Decline?" (1580-1); Macaulay, from "A Review of Southey's
Colloquies" (1581-6); Dickens, from Hard Times (1594-5)
T 5
R 7
Matthew Arnold (1344-9): "To Marguerite--Continued"
(1353-4), "The Buried Life" (1354-6), "The Scholar Gypsy"
(1359-66), "Dover Beach" (1366-7); excerpts from "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time" (1389-1403), "Maurice de
Guérin" (1403-4) and "The Study of Poetry" (1418-29)
Mid-Term Exam
T 12
R 14
John Stuart Mill (992-4): from The Subjection of Women
(1012-22); "The Women Question" (1595) and excerpts from
Ellis, "The Women of England...," Patmore, "The Angel in the
House," and Besant, "The Queen's Reign" (1598-1601,1609-10);
Tennyson, "The Woman's Cause Is Man's" (1083-4)
Presentation: The Victorian Gentleman
Presentation: The Victorian Woman
Martineau, "Autobiography," Mullock, "A Woman's Thoughts...",
and Nightingale, "Cassandra" (1601-9); Elizabeth Barrett
Browning (1029-30), excerpts from "Aurora Leigh" (1034-48);
Christina Rossetti (1472-3): "In an Artist's Studio" (1476) and
"Goblin Market" (1479-90) Quiz
FALL BREAK -- October 18th - 19th
R 21 Virginia Woolf (1915-16), A Room of One's Own Quiz
T 26
"The Nineties" (1612-13); Oscar Wilde (1616-18): from "The
Critic as Artist" (1620-7) and The Importance of Being Earnest
Presentation: The Trials of Oscar Wilde
The Twentieth Century
R 28
"The Twentieth Century" (1683-91); Joseph Conrad (1754-6): "Preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus" (1756-58) and Heart of Darkness (1758-1817); Chinua Achebe, "An Image of Africa:
Conrad's Heart of Darkness" [X] Quiz
T 2
R 4
Thomas Hardy (1692-3), "Hap" (1694), "Neutral Tones" (1605);
"The Darkling Thrush" (1697-8); "The Convergence of the Twain"
(1704); "Under the Waterfall" (1706-7); and "He Never Expected
Much" (1710-11)
No Class -- Read ahead and work on Paper #2
T 9
R 11
"Poetry of World War I" (1825-6): Rupert Brooke (1826-7):
"The Soldier"; Siegfried Sassoon (1831-2): "They" (1832), "The
Rear-Guard" (1832-3), "Glory of Women" (1833-4), and "On
Passing the New Menin Gate" (1834); Wilfred Owen (1842-3),
"Dulce Et Decorum Est" (1845-6)
W.B.Yeats (1859-63): "Adam's Curse" (1871-2), "Easter 1916"
(1878-80), "The Second Coming" (1880-1), "Sailing to Byzantium"
(1883-4); "The Circus Animals' Desertion" (1893-4) Quiz
M 15
T 16
R 18
Paper #2 due by 12 noon in my office
T.S. Eliot (2136-9), "The Waste Land" (2147-60); "Tradition and the Individual Talent" (2170-6)
Virginia Woolf, "Kew Gardens" [X] and "Modern Fiction"
(1921-6); James Joyce (2003-8), "The Dead" (2008-36) Quiz
Presentation: Post-Impressionist Art
T 23
R 25
Philip Larkin (2373): "Church Going" (2324-5), "Talking in Bed"
(2326), "Sad Steps" (2328), and "Aubaude" (2329-30)
T 30
R 2
Seamus Heaney (2422): "Digging" (2422-3) and excerpts from "Station Island" (2428-30); Derek Walcott (2358): "A Far Cry
from Africa" (2358-9) and "Midsummer" (2360-1); and Wole
Soyinka, "Telephone Conversation" [X]
Pat Barker, Regeneration Quiz
T 7
R 16
Tom Stoppard, Arcadia; review for Final Exam
Final Exam: 12-3 p.m.

Guidelines for Papers
General Instructions
Papers should follow the general rules of composition and be typed or word-processed with standard double-spacing, 1-inch margins, and either 10- or 12-point typeface. Title pages and covers are unnecessary. Pages should be numbered, stapled together, and spell-checked. Errors in grammar and punctuation will be marked but will not be significant factors in the grading of the paper unless the mistakes are so numerous or egregious as to distract from the argument. Papers are due at the time the class meets; late papers will be penalized one grade (i.e., B to C) for each day late.

Paper #1 (Due Monday, September 20th; 3-4 pages in length)
Identify and discuss whatever patterns of imagery you can find in one of Keats' odes on the syllabus: "Ode to a Nightingale," "Ode on a Grecian Urn," "Ode on Melancholy" (790-5), or "To Autumn" (813-4). As preparation for your paper, make a list of the images, and try to identify any patterns that might emerge from them. Then, apply those images to the poem's theme. What are some of the themes in the poem? What does the poem tell us about these themes? The pattern(s) you uncover should help answer these questions. [Note: If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can use the excerpts from Keats' Letters (828-44) in place of a poem.]
This paper should be in standard essay form. You should include a very short introduction that tells me the pattern(s) of imagery and the imagery's bearing on the poem's theme(s)--that is, the thesis of your paper. The rest of your paper will support this interpretation by supplying the details of your analysis.

Paper #2 (Due Monday, November 15th; 4-5 pages in length)
Choose one of the following topics for your paper on Part I of Eliot's "The Waste Land" (2146-60). As for Paper #1, this paper should be in standard essay form. You should include a very short introduction that tells me the thesis of your paper in response to one of the topics below; the rest of your paper will support this interpretation by supplying the details of your analysis.

1. Use the poem's title ("The Waste Land"), the epigraph (translated in your footnotes), and the section title ("The Burial of the Dead") as a way into a discussion about the first part of Eliot's poem. How do each of these "introductions" elucidate or connect to the narrative which follows in Part I? Be sure to refer to specific lines and images in your discussion.


2. In footnote #4 on p.2148, Eliot tells the reader that he "associate[s], quite arbitrarily," an image from a tarot card with the mythical image of the Fisher King. Consider Eliot's choice of the word "arbitrarily": What might Eliot's comment tell us about the way in which the poem is and will be constructed? Do the "I" and "we" of the poem "associate, quite arbitrarily" as well? Can we, as readers, begin to detect a pattern to these "arbitrary" associations? Be sure to refer to specific lines and images in your discussion.

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Last updated 16 November 1999