Eng 550.640: Gothic Fictions and National Tales


Professor Michael Gamer

Course meets: Tuesdays, 6:00-8:40 p.m.

Office: 206 Bennett Hall

Office Phone: 898-5968

Office Hours: Tuesday before and after class and by appointment.

Course Description: The nation we recognize as Great Britain emerged between two high-water marks in the history of the novel: the mid eigtheenth-century fictions of Richardson, Haywood, Lennox, and Fielding and the later Victorian social visions of Eliot and Hardy. What changed during the century separating these epochs will be the focus of the seminar. We will address the history of the British novel during this "in-between" time of monumental social change, covering the time in which the first and second British Empires were won and consolidated (roughly 1763-1870). We'll focus on the relation between literary form and emerging British nationalisms, and will ask why the formation of national identiy became so important to writers and social reformers.


Books: Available at Penn Book Center, 34th and Samson, (215) 222-7600.

Austen, Jane. Persuasion (Broadview).

Bage, Robert. Hermsprong (Broadview).

Colley, Linda. Britons (Yale).

Collins, Wilkie, The Moonstone (Broadview).

Edgeworth, Maria. Castle Rackrent and Ennui (Penguin)

Owenson, Sydney. The Wild Irish Girl (Oxford)

Scott, Walter. Waverley; or, 'Tis Sixty Years Since (Oxford).

Smollett, Tobias. The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (Oxford)

Stael, Germaine de. Corinne, or Italy (Oxford).

Stoker, Bram. Dracula (Broadview)


Coursepack: I will provide photocopied materials to you.


Course Calendar:


Unit 1: The '45 and Its Aftermath:

Sept 10: Introduction to the course. For this class we'll discuss the opening chapter of Ann Radcliffe, The Italian.

Sept 17: Read the introduction and first three chapters of Linda Colley, Britons. Read most of Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1773).

Sept 24: Read the selections by Hume, Hobsbaum, Gellner, and Anderson. Finish Humphrey Clinker.


Unit 2: Revolutions:

Oct 1: From the bulkpack, read the first half of Robert Bage, Hermsprong (1796) and the selected works on the American and French Revolutions. On this day we'll be discussing Hermsprong in light of the selections from Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and Hannah More.

Oct 8: Finish Hermsprong and read chapter 4 of Britons. This week we'll discuss Hermsprong in relation to the selections from Helen Maria Williams and Mary Wollstonecraft. Presentation: Nava.

Unit 3: Rebellions: Nations, Nationalism, and National Literatures

Oct 15: Read Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent (1800) and Ennui (1809). By this date you should have read chapters 5 and 6 of Britons. Presentation: Charlotte.

Oct 22: Read Sydney Owenson, The Wild Irish Girl (1806) and the article by Ina Ferris. Presentation: Charity.

Oct 29: Read the selection of Germaine de Stael, Corinne, or Italy (1807). Begin Walter Scott, Waverley (1814). Presentation: Nancy.

Nov 5: Finish Walter Scott, Waverley; Or, 'Tis Sixty Years Since (1814). Read the chapter by Katie Trumpener. Presentation: Tony.

Unit 4: Problems of Empire

Nov 12: Read Jane Austen, Persuasion (1818). Annotated Bibliography Assignment due. Please bring copies for every person in the seminar. Presentation: Dawn and Michelle.

Nov 19: Read the first half of Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (1868). Finish Linda Colley, Britons. Presentation: Sean.

Nov 26: Finish The Moonstone.

Dec. 3: Begin Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897). Read the article by Steven Arata, entitled "Occidental Tourism. Presentation: Betsy. "

Dec 10: Finish Dracula.

December 20th Long Essay due.



Computer Information:

Homepage: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer. All of the items below are available via this homepage.

Syllabus: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Teaching.

Electronic Resources: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Lit/ and (for 1780-1830) http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Romantic. You'll especially find sites like "The Romantic Chronology," "British Women Writers," and "Romantic Circles" useful.

OED (Oxford English Dictionary) available via Library Homepage, under "Reference."

Literature Online available via Library Homepage, under "Databases." A full-text database of on-line texts, and very useful for research.

MLA Bibliography (Modern Language Association) available via Library Homepage, under "Databases."

ESTC (English Short Title Catalogue) available via Library Homepage, under "Library Catalogues."

RLIN (Research Libraries Network) available via Library Homepage, under "Library Catalogues."


Format of Class Meetings:

As our course is a seminar, you should come each week with questions, observations, and discoveries about the reading. Be prepared to talk to (rather than at) one another. To jump-start the class each week, a few of you each week will post a response to the course listserv. These responses are due 48 hours before we meet, by Sunday evening. Between Sunday and Tuesday evening, the rest of us will print and read the responses. We'll then bring the printed responses to class along with our own questions for the writers. Every week, I will ask several of you to respond to the responses -- so please come prepared to do so. Simply put, the seminar will not work unless its participants arrive with ideas to pursue and questions to pose.




Three Responses (15%): Part of the preparation for our meetings will be for you to write three responses to the course readings during the semester. You will send these to the e-mail address engl550-640-02a@lists.upenn.edu, and they'll be due Sunday evening -- meaning that if you want to respond to the reading for the upcoming week, you'll need to send a response to the listserv address 48 hours in advance of our meeting to discuss that reading. For the weeks in which you choose not to write a response, you should print the responses, read through them, and write up an informal paragraph for yourself laying open questions about the reading -- both your own and those suggested by the responses -- that you'd like the seminar to discuss.

When seminar participants begin doing presentations 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 abstract (as well as the readings) as a springboard for their responses.

I will grade the responses based on a plus, check, minus system. If you wish to write a 4th response, you're welcome to do so; I will only count the three highest grades.

The responses will be due to the listserv on Sunday evening; all seminar participants should print the responses, read them prior to class, and bring them to class. For those of you without e-mail at home, you may post them first thing Monday morning. If you do not have access to e-mail, please see me.

So, the rhythm of the seminar will go as follows:

Choosing the focus of your Presentation: At the beginning of class of September 17th and September 24th, I'll ask you if you've decided what text on the syllabus you want to present on. You'll then be slated for that date -- and should let me know as soon as possible if you'd rather go on another date. Then, at least two weeks before you present, you should meet with me to talk about what you'd like to do. I'll provide as much help as you need. NOTE: Undergraduate participants may pair up for this assignment.


The Prospectus for your 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. You should keep this under 500 words, and keep in mind that its purpose is to direct our reading and to provide us with some questions to consider while we read. NOTE: Undergraduate participants may provide a joint document.


The Presentation (15%): 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 and describing your own interests, ideas, and questions about the readings. Notes: undergraduate participants should take special care to stay under 20 minutes -- difficult when there's two people.


The Annotated Bibliography (30%): This is not a write up of your presentation. Instead, for the text you're presenting on, I'd like you to research its 1) production and publication history, 2) reception history, and 3) critical history. Having researched these, I'd like you to choose which of these three arenas provides the richest and most interesting material to write about. Once you've made this decision, you can begin to write up the assignment.

For each of the less interesting two histories, I'd like you to write up a short narrative in which you provide pertinent information and discuss the most important events and issues involved in it. The write up can be anywhere from 10 to 500 words, and should be followed by a bibliography covering the important sources for that arena. The length of these should depend entirely on how much there is to say. For example, in the case of the production history of Bage's Hermsprong, we have no manuscripts in Bage's hand, and no significant changes between the first and later editions. We know that the novel was extremely popular and immediately anthologized, going through several editions and appearing in several collections of British fiction, including Anna Barbauld's The British Novelists (1810, 50 volumes). But that's about all there is to say. Yet the production history for a novel like Castle Rackrent or Waverley is far more interesting -- the former being rushed through production in an attempt to affect parliamentary sentiment over the Anglo-Irish Union of 1800, while the latter was famously published anonymously as a way for Scott to launch a second literary career as an author of fiction without affecting his status as a poet of high renown.

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. What questions does it 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 10-12 entries, with each entry being no more than 200 words.

This assignment is due I'll provide an example of a bibliography so you have a sense of how it should be done.


The Essay (40%): Ideally, your essay should focus on different texts than those you present on (if this is not possible, please see me). Length: around 15 pages. You should think of this essay as being like a short article, and you should use the articles we read during the course as models for it.