English 60:

The English Novel: Novel Urban Spectacles

Michael Gamer
Class Meets: Monday and Wednesday, 12:30-2:00 p.m.

Course Texts (call Penn Book Center ASAP to order 215-222-7600):

Course Description: In this five-week course we'll study the history of the British novel through its representations of Britain's central city, London. We will read five novels in five weeks and will also read a few accounts of the novel's history and characteristics. In addition, we'll visit many of the sites (and sights) that the novels themselves represent, from East London and London Bridge to Greenwich, Tyburn Tree, Sadler's Wells and Vauxhall, Mayfair, Picadilly, and Covent Garden. Our aim will be to understand the symbiotic relationships existing between London and the novel, and to trace how the growth of the former--and its habit of remaking itself into a series of spectacles and shows.

Writing Assignments: During the course, you will primarily be keeping a writing journal, which I will read once during the semester and make suggestions for paper topics. In week five, I would like to meet with you to discuss your final paper project (12-15 pp.). Your writing journal and your paper will each be worth half of your grade. Both are due September 5 at 4 pm in my mailbox in the Penn English Department. Obviously, if you wish to meet at any point before week five to discuss the course, I'd be happy to do so.

The Journal: The Writing Journal that you hand in will be very different from the journal that you keep during the five week term. So, I've made recommendations below for what you should due during term and then how you should revise in August:

I will collect the final version of your writing journal with your final paper on September 1st. Along the way, I'll make notes to myself so as to keep track of your progress in it. I'll formulate the final grade on the journal based on my notes and on the final version of it. I do this because what I care most about is that you keep thinking about the texts even after we've read them. So, please don't think it's somehow cheating to reread the materials in August, and to continue writing in your journal about the materials. It might be that some of you will have huge epiphanies about the early plays we read only after you read the gothic dramas with which we'll close the course.

Long Paper Assignment (12-15 pp): During the semester, I will provide you with a handout for this assignment. In week 5, we'll meet to discuss the paper.


Week #1 (June 24, 26): For June 24, come to our first class having complete Frances Burney's Evelina. Read the introduction as well. You should also have completed Roy Porter's London: A Social History, or at least read the chapters that pertain to London in the eighteenth century. We'll be using this book repeatedly during our five weeks. For these classes, here are some questions I'd like you to think about. Come to class the first meeting with an answer jotted down to at least two of the questions below:

Week #2 (July 1, 3): Read Great Expectations and the chapters of London: A Social History that deal with London in the 19th century. As with Evelina, I'd like you to come to the first class meeting having prepared answers to at least two of the questions below:

Week #3 (July 8, 10): Read Bram Stoker, Dracula, and any accompanying articles I may provide. For our questions, you may take up any of the previous ones asked and apply them to Dracula, or answer the following two: 1. Why does Dracula want to come to London? 2. Why are there so many kinds of new technologies and different kinds of writing in Dracula? What is their function?

Week #4 (July 15, 17): Read Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, and if possible read parts of it aloud to yourself. Questions: 1. Reconstruct Mrs. Dalloway's walk and talk it yourself. Take a good look at what kinds of houses and public buildings you pass. What would someone who knew London be forced to conclude about Mrs. Dalloway? What is the relationship between this geography in the book and Mrs. Dalloway's own thoughts? 2. What is different about this book's style and formal characteristics? Make an exhaustive list of them.

Week #5: (July 22-24): Read Peter Carey, Jack Maggs. Bring in your own questions regarding this book.