416 TTh 9:30-10:45
Dr. Robert Fletcher's homepage
(office hours, etc.)
This course will sample several varieties of Victorian romance (sensationalism,
adventure, detective fiction, terror, ‘scientific romance') and read these
books against the complex cultural background of later nineteenth-century
Britain. With the rise of cultural studies, these books are being
reconsidered as complex cultural phenomena; however, in their own time,
most were best-sellers and several have had a lasting impact on popular
culture, despite having been considered sub-literary by academia.
Thus, we will study the relations between these novels and some or all
of the following: constructions of "high" and "low" culture, gender and
sexual politics, constructions of class, imperialism, psychology, narrative
theory and technique, theatricality. And hopefully we'll also have
some fun with them. We'll spend the first few weeks learning and
discussing the interests, methods, and tools of cultural criticism, and
then each student will apply what s/he has learned to a single fictional
Ouida's Under Two Flags sold over a million copies (and was
made into a movie at least three times in the 20th century).
Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret became a hit on the London
stage as a "society melodrama."
Collins's Armadale "reverberates to the headlines of the
popular press in the 1850s and 1860s" (according to John Sutherland) and
contributes to the development of detective fiction, which is consolidated
by Conan Doyle in the Sherlock Holmes series, including The Sign
Wells's books, such as The Time Machine and The Island
of Dr. Moreau, inaugurated a dominant mode of twentieth-century
Haggard's She has been filmed several times (most famously
with Ursula Andress in the title role) and also helped spawn a genre of
Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has of course attained
the status of myth.
Lowndes' The Lodger, while not really Victorian, fictionalizes
a notorious, even archetypal, element of Victorian London--the "Jack the
Introduce you to a range of Victorian popular fiction.
Illuminate the relationship between the novel and cultural politics during
Develop your understanding of narrative as cognitive form.
Contribute to your growth as critical reader and writer by introducing
you to the philosophy and methods of cultural studies.
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret (1862), Oxford
World Classics, 1987.
Wilkie Collins, Armadale (1866), Penguin Classics, 1995.
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1890), Oxford World
H. Rider Haggard, She (1887), Oxford World Classics,
Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger (1913), Oxford Popular
Ouida (Marie Louise Ramé), Under Two Flags (1867),
Oxford Popular Fiction, 1995.
Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories
(1885), Oxford World Classics, 1987.
H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (1895) and The Island
of Dr. Moreau (1896), Oxford World Classics, 1996.
There will also be several critical/theoretical essays to read, which
will either be xeroxed and placed on reserve or posted on the Internet.
Careful reading of the critical essays and novels (measured through a few
unannounced quizzes, which may not be made up after unexcused absences),
consistent attendance, and enthusiastic participation in discussions.
Leading class discussion on your novel. (30%) Tips, Strategies and Questions for Class Discussion or Papers
You are responsible for
coming up with a focus for the day's discussion,
doing background research on your novel and the relevant aspects of Victorian
and/or modern culture,
assembling and submitting a formal outline (including a bibliography of
presenting this material to the class in a coherent and interesting format,
and, finally, writing a one-page reflection on the experience.
You are also required to meet with me before your discussion,
so I can assist you in finding materials on your subject or suggest a direction
to take. This work may very well form the basis of your seminar paper.
NOTE: Where there are two or more people working on the same novel
(that is, in most cases), these students must coordinate their discussions.
A seminar paper of approximately 15 pages. (30%)
You will write a 15-18 page cultural study of a selected novel or novels,
a paper both analytical and well-researched, which reflects engagement
with one or more of the critical/theoretical issues encountered in the
course. In order to allow both of us to allocate our time efficiently,
there will be two due dates--the first for those who would like comments
on the paper, the second, later date for those for whom a grade will suffice.
There will be no grade penalty for turning the paper in on the second date,
nor will there be a grade advantage for turning the paper in on the first
A final exam. (30%)
The final examination will consist of A) spot-passage identifications (closed
book) and B) an essay question (open book).
A) For the identifications section, you will be given several passages
from the novels, and for each you will be required to provide (a) the author
and title of the work, (b) its context, and (c) its significance in the
novel (THINK: why is this passage important to the whole story?).
You will be expected to read each passage carefully and develop your analysis
fully, paying attention to the connections among style, technique, and
meaning. A paraphrase of the passage will not be acceptable.
I will try to choose prominent passages that will be recognizable, but
they won't necessarily be passages discussed in class.
B) For the essay section, you will be given a choice of comparison-contrast
topics. In response, you should write a brilliant, well-organized,
concise essay in which you formulate and then prove a thesis that answers
one of the questions. Remember that random comments will not be acceptable.
It will be best to think about your total response before you begin, and
you will want to support your claims with specific examples from the novels
Jan. 19: Introduction to the course. READINGS:
Murfin's introduction to "Cultural Criticism."
Jan. 21: "Literary" vs. "Popular" Fiction READINGS:
Stigant, and Widdowson, "Introduction" to Popular Fictions: Essays in
Literature and History. Excerpts from Pierre Bourdieu's
Optional: Stevenson's "A Gossip on Romance".
Jan. 26: A 19th-century debate about the novel vs. the romance
and literature as "art": James,
"The Art of Fiction," and Stevenson,
"A Humble Remonstrance."
Timothy Wager's Essay on James and Besant, "Regulating the Market" (from UC Santa Barbara)
Jan. 28: Narrative, Ideology, Literary History. READINGS:
an excerpt from "The Soul and the Harpy," from Signs Taken for Wonders.
Feb. 2: Fredric Jameson, a selection from "On Interpretation," from The Political
Feb. 4: A Sample Text. Detective Fiction: Conan
Doyle, The Sign of the Four.
A Sample Outline (Lesson Plan) for a reading of The Sign of the Four
Feb.9: "Cultural criticism" of the detective genre. Excerpts
from Jann's "Sherlock Holmes Codes the Social Body"; Moretti, "Clues"; and
Priestman, Detective Fiction and Literature.
Another Sample Outline (Lesson Plan) for The Sign of the Four, Day Two
(Feb. 11): Off for reading, research, and
preparation of lesson plan.
Tips, Strategies and Questions for Class Discussion or Papers
Week 5 (Feb. 16 and 18): Off for reading, research, and
preparation of lesson plan.
(Feb. 23): Off for reading, research, and
preparation of lesson plan.
Feb. 25: Sensation. Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret
(1862). Stefanie C.
Mar. 2: Lady Audley's Secret, continued. Stephanie H.
Mar. 4: Lady Audley's Secret, concluded.
Mar. 9 and Mar. 11. Spring Break
Mar. 16: Collins, Armadale (1866). Sarah
Mar. 18: Armadale, continued. Cheryl
Mar. 23: Collins, Armadale, concluded.
Mar. 25: Adventure. Ouida, Under Two Flags
Mar. 30: Under Two Flags, continued. Erin
Apr. 1: Under Two Flags concluded.
Apr. 6: Haggard, She (1887). Jess
Apr. 8: She concluded. Rachel
Apr. 13: Terror. Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde (1885). Tracy
Apr. 15: Lowndes, The Lodger (1913). Cara
Apr. 20: The Lodger, concluded. Brian
Apr. 22: ‘Scientific Romance.' Wells, The Time
Machine (1895). Josh
Apr. 27: The Time Machine concluded. The Island
of Dr. Moreau (1896).
Apr. 29: The Island of Dr. Moreau concluded. Louise
Final Exam: Thursday, May 6, 1999, from 8:30 to 10:30
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