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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jane J Lee
ENGL 200
Seattle Campus

Reading Literary Forms

Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

Questioning Women: Literature and Female Representation

Nineteenth-century England was characterized by paradoxes of every cultural and political shade: the rapid industrialization of the nation was encouraged yet feared for its impact on social relations; reform movements were met by intense distrust of bureaucratization; imperial expansion was seen as both a necessity and right as it also engendered insecurity; the proliferation of novels was heralded as both beneficial for a reading nation as well as detrimental in its ability to shape its readers, perhaps undesirably. Central to many of these concerns is the woman and question of her role in a swiftly modernizing world. The doctrine of separate spheres is a key paradox of the Victorian age: women were seen as instrumental to social stability, but only within a limited domestic space. Where earlier literature might portray women as heroines, it does so in the confines of love, marriage, and social order, and if a woman transgressed these boundaries, she could only be a madwoman, a monster, or fallen beyond the help of moral and social reform. This course will look at women in literature, women writing literature, and women as constituted by literature, in order to examine how the figure of the woman was being actively constructed as well as contested through literature.

We will begin with Austen to provide an example of a quintessential female heroine as commonly portrayed in much domestic fiction, paying attention to how Austen constructs the domestic domain of her women. From there we will move into Lady Audley’s Secret, which, written deep in the nineteenth century, seeks to question the neat constructions of a woman as domestic angel or madwoman, throwing those categories into flux as it does so. Trilby and She will provide fin-de-siecle interpretations on the woman question. We may end with a famous play dealing with shaping women into *proper* ladies, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion--this last text is tentative and whether it will be included will be decided upon prior to the course beginning. The course pack will include secondary criticism as well as poetry selections on the topic, including poetry from D.G. Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Browning, and others.

Texts: Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. (978-0141439518) Braddon, Mary Elizabeth. Lady Audley’s Secret. 1862. (978-0140435849) Haggard, H. Rider. She. 1887. (978-0192835505) Du Maurier, George. Trilby. 1894. (978-1551115740) Shaw, George Bernard. Pygmalion. 1913. (978-0486282220)(tentative) Course Pack, available at Ave Copy (4141 University Way)

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Because a good portion of your grade will depend on your writing, I highly recommend having taken English 109/110, 111, 121, or 131 prior to taking the class. Also, I expect regular and consistent class attendance. Be certain you are able and willing to make the meeting time.

Class assignments and grading

Because the course is discussion-based, a good portion of your grade is based on class participation. Per W-course requirements, students will also write two short response papers (3-4 pages each), and one longer essay (5-7 pages), with revisions. The workload also includes a presentation, discussion-leading, Go Post responsibilities, quizzes, and a heavy reading schedule.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jane J Lee
Date: 05/16/2009