Michael Gamer <mgamer@english>

Class meets: Mondays 9:30-12.

Location: Room M-20 of Hamilton College House, at 3901 Locust Walk (the northmost and westmost of the three high-rises).

Office and Hours: 122 Bennett Hall (in the suite of offices in 119 Bennett). Office hours by appointment Tuesdays 2:30-4:00 p.m. (call Loretta Williams at 898-7343 to schedule) and Fridays 3:00-4:45 (walk-ins).

Class listserv: engl760-301-04a@lists


English 760.301: Topics in the Novel: National Tales


Course Description:

This course will explore nationalism and the novel between 1775 and 1900, devoting particular attention to Scottish, Irish, Indian, and other national and colonial discourses. Most broadly, we'll consider the relation between cultural identity and genre, imperial conquest and novelistic form. How did the changing face of Britain--as embodied not only through the Scottish (1707) and Irish (1801) Acts of Union but also by the "rises" of the first (1763ff) and second (1815ff) British empires--affect the ideological and formal qualities and the cultural status of the novel and associated generic forms like romance? While I have set the first half of the syllabus and ordered a number of additional novels for the course, they should be considered as suggestions, since, like all true seminars, our readings ultimately should reflect the interests of the participants.


Books: Available at Penn Book Center (215) 222-7600

Tobias Smollett, Humphrey Clinker (OUP, 0-19-2833594-7). Wales, North America, Scotland.

Robert Bage, Hermsprong (Broadview, 1-55111-131-4). North America, France, Britain.

Sydney Owenson, The Wild Irish Girl (OUP, 0-19-283283-2). Ireland, Scotland, and England.

Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent and Ennui (Penguin, 0-14-043320-1). Ireland and Britain.

John Galt, Annals of the Parish (Cork Hill Press, 1594082472). Scotland.


Course Calendar, Weeks 1-6:


I've set the syllabus for the first six weeks of class; we'll set the syllabus for weeks 7-12 together on January 12th. While I've ordered 12 novels through Penn Book Center, there is no reason why we need stick to them, or even to the novel as a literary form.


Jan 12th:    National Novelistic Canons and Donaldson v. Beckett (1774): Harrison's The Novelist's Magazine (1780-88), Barbauld's The British Novelists (1810), and Scott's Ballantyne's Novelists' Library (1821-24).

Jan 19th:    Domestic Expeditions: As this is MLK day, we will need to reschedule class. For this meeting, though, we'll read the article by Charlotte Sussman, and Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1778).

Jan 26th:    Ireland, India, and the Nabob: Read the speeches by Burke on Ireland and India (coursepack), and Maria Edgeworth's Lame Jervas (coursepack). As the reading for the 26th if heavier, you may want to read the short packet on the French Revolution this week. JARED.

Feb 2nd:     Revolution and Internationalism: Read the short packet on the French Revolution, and Robert Bage, Hermsprong; or, Man As He is Not (1796). JOHN.

Feb 9th:     The Irish Rebellion and the Anglo-Irish Union of 1801: Reading: Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent and Ennui. Please also read Daniel Hack, "Inter-Nationalism: Castle Rackrent and Anglo-Irish Union" (coursepack) and chapter 2 of Ina Ferris's The Achievement of Literary Authority (1991). CIARA.

Feb 19th (Thursday): Sydney Owenson and the Irish National Tale. Guest seminar leader: Ina Ferris. Reading: The Wild Irish Girl and the chapter in the coursepack from The Romantic National Tale and the Question of Ireland. Please note that this is a Thursday morning class meeting.


Course Calendar, Weeks 7-12:


Feb 23th:       Germaine de Stael, Corinne. JOE.


Mar 1st:        Walter Scott, Waverley, and the Ian Duncan article in the coursepack. MICHAEL. 


Mar 15th: The National Tale and the Provincial Novel after Waverley. Guest seminar leader: Juliet Shields. Reading: John Galt, Annals of the Parish (1821).


Mar 22nd:      Jane Austen, Persuasion. KATE.


Mar 29th:      Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland. JOSH AND ANDREA.


Apr 5th:          Burns and Clare. MYRA AND JEN.


Apr 12th:       Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone.

April 14th: Conference abstract due to me via e-mail.


Apr 19th:       End of term conference.


May 8th:       Final Essay Due.


Critical books and essays to consider:

While I've put together a small coursepack of readings for the first few weeks of the course, there are a number of excellent recent books on national literatures, identities, and cultures. It would be nice to take a week or two during the semester to look at this recent work -- either entire books or chapters of books. Among those we might consider are:


Linda Colley, Britons (1992)

Mary Jean Corbett, Allegories of Union in Irish and English writing (2000)

Ina Ferris, The Romantic National Tale and the Question of Ireland (2003)

Angela Keane, Women Writers and the English Nation (2000)

Colin Kidd, British Identities before Nationalism (1999; fabulous)

Franco Moretti, An Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 (1998)

Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire (1997)



Course Requirements:




Five Responses:  Part of the preparation for our meetings will be for you (1) to write a response to the readings five times during the semester that you will send to the e-mail address engl760-301-04a@lists.upenn.edu. During the weeks you don't write a response, you should read through the responses and bring them to class with informal response to the responses for that week. When seminar participants begin presenting and leading discussion, they will provide a prospectus a week in advance designed to raise questions and otherwise set up discussion; those wishing to write responses should use that prospectus (as well as the readings) as a springboard for their responses. The responses will be due 36 hours before we meet -- Saturday night when we meet Monday, and otherwise two nights before we meet. I'll usually start either the first or second half of class by asking non-responders where they would like to focus the beginnings of discussion. You will also find, if you look on your e-mail before you compose your response, that many times the responses of your colleagues will prove to be as much a catalyst to your own writing as the reading itself. Before class on Monday, then, you will be required to read through the responses, to print them, and to bring them in.

So, the rhythm of the seminar (hopefully) will usually go as follows:

1. On Saturday evening, we'll post responses.

2. Sometime between Saturday evening and Monday morning, we'll all read the responses and prepare for class.

3. On Monday morning, we'll meet.


Choosing the focus of your presentation: Two or three weeks before you present, you should meet with me to talk about what you'd like to do during the time you lead class discussion -- particularly whether you wish to assign any additional readings for your presentation. We'll need to talk about ordering books and coursepacking additional materials, as well as what is enough and what is too much to do in the time allotted. You might want to think of this as a step in your graduate teaching career, since you'll effectively be choosing the readings and otherwise shaping a week of the seminar. Obviously, I'll provide as much help as you need.


The prospectus for you presentation: The week before you present, you should come to class with copies of a prospectus, the purpose of which is to provide guidelines for what you'll be doing in your presentation. At the very latest, you should post your prospectus to the course listserv <engl760-301-04a@lists> by the Wednesday before you present. You should keep this under 500 words, and keep in mind that its purpose is to direct our reading and to provide us with questions to consider while we read.


The presentation: For one of the class meetings, you'll be doing a short (please no more than 20 minutes -- be warned I will cut you off) presentation setting up discussion about the readings. They'll also provide a presentation write-up (see below).


The presentation write-up and bibliography: This is not a write up of your presentation literally. Instead, I'd like you to research your main text's 1) production and publication history, 2) reception history, and 3) critical history. Having researched these, I'd like you to decide which of the three interests you the most. Once you've made this decision, you can write up the assignment.

For the least interesting two histories, I'd like you to write up a short narrative regarding each of them -- anywhere from 10 to 500 words, followed by a bibliography. The length of these should depend entirely on how much there is to say. For example, in the case of the production history of Cowley's A Bold Stroke for a Husband (1783), there are some items of interest. On one hand, we have no manuscripts in Cowley's hand, although there is a fair-copy of the play that was submitted to the Lord Chamberlain's Office by the manager of Covent-Garden theater for approval, now located in the Huntington Library in the Larpent Collection (LA #617). The Huntington Larpent Catalogue notes that, when compared to the play's first edition of 1784, the manuscript shows considerable portions of the play cut for stage production. But that's about all there is to say. Later editions of the play show now real changes or revisions. On the other hand, The London Stage provides us with considerable detail about each night of A Bold Stroke's initial run, including total receipts, etc. Thus, in writing up the production history, you could probably do so in fewer than 300 words.

For the most interesting of the three histories, however, I'd like you to write a more extended essay (approximately 5 pages), in which you make a case for why this particular aspect of the text is most interesting and map its primary points of interest. What questions do these points of interest raise and why? What would answering these questions illuminate? What questions do you wish to ask, and what are you answers. Finally, instead of a bibliography, I would like you to provide an annotated bibliography of the section, consisting of no more than 12 entries, with each entry being no more than 150 words.


The abstract, conference, and essay: Rather than simply assign a long essay, I'd like to provide you an opportunity to practice writing a conference abstract, presenting a conference paper, and then turning it into an article. The conference itself will be a festive occasion; the conference paper should be no more than 8 pages. Ideally, you should do your conference paper and essay on a different set of texts than your presentation (if this is not possible, please see me). Final essay length: 20-30 pages.