English 60:

The English Novel: Novel Urban Spectacles

Instructor: Michael Gamer
Class Meets: Monday and Wednesday, 9-11 a.m.

Course Texts:

Reading Ahead: I strongly recommend that you do as much of the reading as is possible before coming to London. Also: There is no need necessarily to bring the book entitled The Theory of the Novel to London. You can if you'd like; but we will use the essays in that book as the basis for the take-home final exam, which I will send to you around mid-August. If you wish to read ahead from that book, you should look at the entries by Watt, Bakhtin, McKeon, and Armstrong, for starters.

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 and Due Dates: During July, you will primarily be keeping a writing journal, which I will read once during the month. In week five, I will be happy to meet with you to discuss which entries you might wish to turn into journal essays for the Journal Project. The Final Exam will be take-home. I'll post it on-line around August 10th or so, and it will be due at the same time as the Journal Project. The Final Exam will ask you to read essays from The Theory of the Novel and to use them as a basis for writing about the novels in the course.

Grading: The Journal project and the Final Exam each are worth half of your grade. Obviously I will downgrade (and, in a few cases upgrade) students based on the quality (as opposed to the quantity) of their participation in our seminars. Both the journal assignment and the final exam are due September 8th, at 4 pm, to my mailbox at 3600 Market Street, Suite 501A.

More on The Journal Project: The set of Journal Essays 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 do during term and then how you should revise in August:

During July, I'll read through your journals at least once, and 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 your journal while your in London; at the same time, I ask you to select from your journals and write longer, more reflective essays because I want you to keep thinking about the texts and the city during August. 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.


Week #1 (June 27, 29): Come to the first meeting having read Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year. You should also have completed Roy Porter's London: A Social History, or at least read the chapters that pertain to London between 1640 and 1750. We'll be using this book repeatedly during our five weeks. In addition, I've compiled a considerable amount of additional information regarding this novel at http://www.english.upenn.edu/Undergrad/Courses/Spring02/traffic/unit1.html. Have a look there during May and June if you have on-line access. For this first class, 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 4, 6): Finish 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 and early nineteenth centuries. Come to class with an answer jotted down to at least two of the questions below:
Week #3 (July 11, 13): 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 #4 (July 18, 20): Read Bram Stoker, Dracula, and any accompanying articles you wish in your edition. 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? what part of London? 2. Why are there so many kinds of new technologies and different kinds of writing in Dracula? What is their function? 3. How does the absence of an omniscient narrator change your reading experience?

Week #5 (July 25, 27): Read Ian McEwan, Atonement, and if possible read parts of it aloud to yourself. What happens to the pace of the novel when you do this? If you did not go on the Dickens walk with us, then you must go this week to St. Paul's and to explore the area around it, particularly St. Bride's (on the Strand) and the exhibit in the basement. You'll see how the entire area around St. Paul's was completely leveled during the Blitz, and the cathedral survived only because of hundreds of the volunteers. Questions: What is different about this book's style and formal characteristics? What is the author's attitude toward authorship? What do you make of its episodic quality? and the relation between this structure and its views on authorship and atonement that come near the end of the book?