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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Sharleen Mondal
ENGL 242
Seattle Campus

Reading Prose Fiction

Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.

Class description

For SPRING 2007: Reading Nineteenth-Century British Fiction. The official university catalog description for ENGL 242 reads as follows: “Critical interpretation and meaning in fiction. Different examples of fiction representing a variety of types from the medieval to modern periods.” The latter part of the description is somewhat misleading, as it is impossible to cover literature “from the medieval to modern periods” in any fair sense in one course, much less in one quarter. Furthermore, because “critical interpretation” of fiction requires an understanding of historical, social, political, and cultural context of the work, we must necessarily narrow our inquiry to literature which shares a reasonably common context. In this class, we will read nineteenth-century British literature, paying special attention to a variety of forms and contexts shaping the assigned fiction. We will explore essays, novels, poems, novellas, and one film adaptation, thus considering genre and form as we practice strategies for careful literary analysis. The central thematic concern of the course will be to examine how fiction, as cultural production, actively contests, negotiates, and/or perpetuates (rather than simply passively representing) issues of class, gender, race, sexuality, national identity, and empire at particular historical moments. There will be a mid-term examination, a final paper (approximately 8 pages), scheduled reading quizzes each week, one presentation on relevant contextual material, one day on which to lead discussion, and required participation in class discussion. I will rarely lecture; students should come prepared to discuss the reading and to contribute their insights and ideas to class conversation. Texts include: excerpts from Thomas Carlyle’s Past and Present and from his Án Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question”; excerpts from Friedrich Engels’ “The Great Towns”; Charles Dickens’ Hard Times; John Stuart Mill’s “What is Poetry?{ and excerpts from his On Liberty and The Subjection of Women; Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market,” Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “Jenny,” excerpts from Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy; George Eliot’s Middlemarch, and an excerpt from her “Silly Novels By Lady Novelists”; Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; and Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King. We will also watch John Huston’s film adaptation of this novella. Texts: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 8th ed, Volume E: The Victorian Age; Charles Dickens, Hard Times; R. L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; George Eliot, Middlemarch; photocopied course packet.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


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.
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Last Update by Sherry May Laing
Date: 05/11/2007