SLN: 80059
TTh 1:30-2:45
Tempe ED 218

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ENG 452: History of the British Novel

Fall 2012 Syllabus


This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 to 2:45 .

The format will be a seminar format. Tuesday classes will involve brief lectures and general discussion of the readings while Thursdays will be taken up with discussions of student seminar papers submitted the day before. All students must read and comment on their fellow students' papers during Thursday discussion. Readings are listed below on the syllabus. In addition to completing the weekly reading, submitting the writing assignments, and attending class regularly, participating in in-class discussion of both the readings and fellow students' papers, you are required to participate in asynchronous Blackboard discussions every week.

This course seeks to develop your critical interpretive skills, to broaden your knowledge of nineteenth century British literature and culture, and to enhance your writing, reading, and research skills.

Dan Bivona
Office: LL 224

Office hours: M 3-4:30 and T 3-4 (in LL 224), W 7-8 pm (online only), and by appointment

Directions for online meetings:
[Audio conference: Call my Skype number from any phone: 602-903-3825]
[Video conference: 1) Find my contact info in the Skype Directory, 2)
add me to your contacts list, 3) and make a video call (this requires you to have Skype
on your computer; video calls on Skype are free. See to download)]

Phone: 602-903-3825
My Website

See my faculty profile here:

This course will give an overview of the evolution of the British novel, from its origins in the News/Novels discourse of the late 17th and early 18th centuries through its period of cultural dominance in the 19th century and the early 20th century. If enrollment permits, this course will be run as a true seminar with discussions one day per week focused on student critical papers. If enrollment does not permit, then this syllabus will be altered in August before class begins. Requirements include regular participation in in-class and Blackboard discussions, occasional quizzes, 4 brief critical papers, 1 take-home final, and 1 critical research paper (10-12 pages).

Where it can be found
Due Date
% of Final Grade
4 critical papers, 450-600 words in length (1-2 pages).
Topics should be drawn from the reading and discussion material of the week it will be discussed in class; prompts for first papers will appear in the "Assignments" area of Blackboard; thereafter, students are responsible for creating their own theses
due in my inbox ( on Wednesday at 12 noon before the Thursday in-class discussion.
1 critical research paper (10-12 pages)
topics in the "Assignments" area of Blackboard
due in my inbox on December 11 before 11:59 PM
1 take-home final to be administered online
It will appear on our website 24 hours before the exam is due back to me by email attachment
due in my inbox on December 13 before 11:59 PM
weekly contributions to class discussion, on Blackboard and in class; quiz grades; attendance; all students are required to read all the seminar papers in advance of Thursday class and pose questions during Thursday discussions
"Discussion Board" area of Blackboard and in class
throughout; you will receive a letter grade for attendance, quiz performance, and in-class contributions at the end of the semester

*You have the option to revise and resubmit one of the seminar papers for an additional grade. If you choose to do so, your first draft grade will count for 5% of your final grade and the revision grade will count for 5%. Revisions are due in my inbox on the final day of class, December 7.

The critical papers should be 400-600 words in length (1.5-2.5 pages). This word limit will be strictly policed. Topics for the initial papers can be found on Blackboard by following the "Assignments" link. These papers are to be submitted as attachments to an email to me ( no later than 6 PM the Wednesday before Thursday seminar paper discussion. Grade will be reduced one grade for every day the paper is late. Use MLA Format for citations. The due dates of these papers will be determined on the second day of class.

Thursday seminar paper discussions: Each week I will assign individual students responsibility for leading the discussion of individual papers on the following Monday, although all students are required to read the papers to be discussed before class. I will make these assignments in a schedule that will be available on Blackboard. You can expect to be assigned to leading one of these discussions the week following a week in which you have submitted a paper for discussion. The job of the discussion leader is to focus class discussion on the paper's thesis and evidence, and to do so while inviting ways of strengthening the argument by broadening the reach of it. The best way to begin such a discussion is to summarize the argument of the paper briefly, first, and then to let the group know if you agree or disagree with the argument. You can use the paper as an opportunity to open up important issues for class discussion that may perhaps go beyond the argument made by the student in his or her paper.

All students should bring either paper copies of the papers to be discussed every Thursday, a laptop for accessing the papers, or extensive notes on the papers.

The Guidelines for paper grading can be found here:

A note on getting started: Effective note-taking on the novels is very important, because you will need to use your notes to find the evidence to support the claims you make in your papers. An effective thesis should assert something about the meaning of the work that is not obvious to everyone who has read it. Moreover, an effective thesis takes a stand on an issue of significant controversy over the meaning of the work discussed. The initial paper topics, which can be found on Blackboard in the "Assignments" area, will provide you with question prompts. These are based on significant critical issues that the works have engendered. After the initial paper, you will be on your own when it comes to finding a thesis. The best general strategy in a course like this is to find an issue that allows you to connect the critical issues introduced by the secondary material with the literary works, although you are not restricted to those issues.

The final paper, a critical research paper, should be 10-12 pages in length. You should use at least three secondary sources. Again, topics will be found on the course Blackboard in the "Assignments" area. All students should discuss their topics with me no later than early November and submit a one-paragraph thesis statement and argument forecast on email by November 15.

Weekly contributions to online class discussion: Everyone is required to pose at least 6 questions to the group online over the course of the 16-week term. In addition, every student is required to respond at least once per week to other students' or my questions. You will be graded both on the frequency of your contributions and on the quality of them. The best strategy is to post at least 2 or 3 thoughtful responses and/or questions per week. Please be sure to make them thoughtful, paragraph-long responses, not quick, two-word responses, and be sure to observe the conventions of civil online discourse (no flaming or personal remarks about other students in the class). Questions may deal with the previous week's reading or with the upcoming week's reading. You may ask questions or make responses that relate current material to material introduced earlier in the course, but please do not pose questions about a novel that the rest of the class will not have read for two more weeks. Questions and responses should be posted no later than 9 AM on the Monday of each week to be counted for that week.

Issues raised in the the online discussions will be discussed in class as well.

Please note that all work done for this course must be your original work. If you make use of the insights of other writers, you must cite them in your papers using MLA citation format. Punishments for plagiarism can be very severe and may include a permanent grade of "failure with academic dishonesty" or suspension from the University. If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please ask me.

Author Title Edition
Behn, Aphra Oroonoko (1688) Penguin
Defoe, Daniel Robinson Crusoe (1719) Oxford World Classics
Austen, Jane Pride and Prejudice (1813) Oxford World Classics
Bronte, Charlotte Jane Eyre (1847) Broadview
Dickens, Charles Great Expectations (1861) Oxford World Classics
Wilde, Oscar The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) Oxford World Classics
Kipling, Rudyard Kim (1901) Oxford World Classics
Forster, E. M. A Passage to India (1924) Everyman

These books are currently available at, Google Books, or

*These works should be read completely in time for discussion on Tuesday..

**The reading and discussion of these books will be divided over two weeks. You should read the first half of these books for the first week of discussion.

Week Topic Reading/Assignments
Aug. 23 Introduction to the course
  • The News/Novels Discourse
Aug. 28-30

The Origin of the Novel

  • Behn, Oroonoko (1688)
  • Jeremy Collier, A Defence of the Short View of the Profaneness and Immorality of the English Stage (1699). Early English Books Online (


Sep. 4-6


Homo Economicus

Sep. 11-13

Grp A #1 due

Homo Economicus
  • Robinson Crusoe (1719): read second half

Sep. 18-20

Grp B #1 due

Love Plots and Surplus Females
  • Pride and Prejudice (1813): read whole novel
  • Sandra MacPherson, "Rent to Own; or, What's Entailed in Pride and Prejudice." Representations 82.1 (Spring 2003): 1-23 (

Sep. 25


Love Plots and Surplus Females
  • Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Sep. 27
No Class: NAVSA Conference

Oct. 2-4

Grp C #1 due

The Victorian Bildungsroman
  • Jane Eyre (1847): read first half
  • John Kucich, excerpt from Repression in Victorian Fiction (1987) [Blackboard]

Oct. 9-11

Grp A #2 due

The Victorian Bildungsroman
  • Jane Eyre (1847): read second half
Oct. 16
No Class: Mid-Semester Break
Oct. 18 The Darwinian Revolution  

Oct. 23-5

Grp B #2 due

Childhood as Criminality
  • Great Expectations (1861): read first half
  • Peter Brooks, "Repetition, Repression, and Return: Great Expectations and the Study of Plot." NLH 11.3 (Spring 1980): 503-526 (JSTOR)

Oct. 30-Nov. 1

Grp C #2 due

Childhood as Criminality
  • Great Expectations (1861): read second half

Nov. 6-8

Grp A #3 due

Eternal Youth
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890): read whole novel
  • Daniel Bivona, "Aesthetic Instinct and Sexual Taste:
    Oscar Wilde and the Instinct for Symmetry."

Nov. 13-15

Grp B #3 due

Eternal Youth
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

Nov. 20

Grp C #3 due

Empire as Child's Play
  • Kim (1900): read first half
  • Edward Said, excerpt from Culture and Imperialism (1993) [Blackboard]

Nov. 22

No class: Thanksgiving

Nov. 27-9

Grp A #4 due

Empire as Child's Play
  • Kim (1900): read second half

Dec. 4-6

Grp B #4 due

Only Connect
  • A Passage to India (1924): read first half

Dec. 11

Grp C#4 due**

Only Connect
  • A Passage to India: read second half

N.B. All the readings above not available on can be found free online, either through Google Books or through one of the ASU Library databases. Please note that to access such databases as JSTOR you must go through the validation page on first.

Each student will be assigned to one seminar paper group (A, B, or C) at the beginning of the course. Due dates for your papers are listed under the date of the class.

**Due date of critical research paper.

  • Literature Online (database containing primary texts in British and American literature)
  • Literature Resource Center (provides access to a variety of primary and secondary texts, principally in British and American literature)
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (biographies of British literary and historical figures)
  • Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (self-explanatory)
  • JSTOR (large database of secondary sources in a variety of disciplines, some reaching back to the nineteenth century)
  • Project Muse (large database of recent [1999-2008] secondary sources in a variety of disciplines)
  • Periodicals Archive Online (large database of secondary sources, many from the nineteenth century)
  • Nineteenth Century Masterfile (digital index: identifies locations of primary and secondary material; it also now links to full text versions of the material it indexes)
  • Academic Search Premier (large database of principally secondary source material)
  • MLA Bibliography (bibliographic index of secondary sources in modern language and literature)
  • ProQuest Historial Newspapers: The Guardian and The Observer

N. B. All the above sources can be searched online through the ASU Library website. You must go through this site in order to be validated to use these sources. The Library's "One Search" is very useful.


The sites below can be searched directly through the internet: