online syllabus:

class handouts: 

electronic reserves: 
(password 563)

~ schedule ~

Literature 563: Novel Geographies

18th-Century British Fiction & the Cultural Institutions of the Novel

Fall 2008

Dr. Abby Coykendall

acoykenda at

Office Phone: 487-0147

Office Location: Pray-Harrold Hall 603G

Office Hours: Monday 2:00-3:30 & 7:40-9:20 PM
Wednesday 2:00-3:30 & 9:10-9:30 PM

~ email for appointments ~

Monday 5:00-7:40 Pm
Pray-Harrold Hall 329

 Angelus Novus [by Paul Klee] is how one pictures the angel of history.  His face is turned toward the past.  Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe that keeps piling ruin upon ruin ...  The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed.  But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them.  The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.  This storm is what we call progress.”

— Walter Benjamin, “Ninth Thesis on the Philosophy of History”

Literature 563: Studies in Eighteenth-Century Fiction

Novel Geographies: Eighteenth-Century British Fiction & the Cultural Institutions of the Novel

LITR 563 is a course in which you will investigate a wide variety of British fiction spanning the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries.  This period, generally referred to as the “long” eighteenth century, extends somewhat beyond the 1700s to accommodate the revolutions framing the century proper, both of which influence the direction of British culture profoundly; namely, the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 (instituting a new Protestant monarchy by Parliamentary fiat alone), as well as the French Revolution, the period’s spectacular fin de siècle dénouement. 

Throughout the term, we will test both the utopian and apocalyptic visions of the British enlightenment, not only putting literary works in dialogue with the historical or philosophical context of the time, but also examining how these works shape the myriad claims to (and contestations against) modernity that continue to vex our own.  Perhaps more than any other era, the eighteenth century represents a watershed moment, one that we must revisit periodically to interrogate, fully and honestly, the real conditions of our own.  While often considered the quaint tea-and-crumpets blueprint for civil societies across the globe, the British enlightenment in fact witnesses both the positives and the negatives of modernity in the extreme.  Alternately hailed as the “Age of Reason” and the “Age of Exuberance,” the period thrives on experimentation and extremity, with conspicuous consumption and unfettered commerce—most notably, in the transatlantic traffic of human beings—going hand in hand with the enlightenment ethos of progressive humanism typically made most familiar to us.  Nevertheless, in midst of the massive expansion of the slave trade, the birth of the market economy, and the increasingly rigid sex-gender system (culminating in “Angle of the House” domesticity), we find a celebration of art and culture that students of the humanities still cannot help but admire. 

As befits the period, eighteenth-century fiction epitomizes both trajectories of this dialectic in the extreme, ranging in style from the most depraved gothic extravagance to the most scrupulously moralistic neoclassical “comic epic in prose” (the term “novel” then being too dicey a denomination for Fielding’s now classic Tom Jones).  We thus will survey a wide variety of genres, whether ultra-satiric or ultra-sentimental, brazenly libertine or painfully didactic, including those prevailing in the novel, a literary vehicle first engineered over the course of the century in conjunction with its target audience, the middle class.  We will consider as well non-fictional or semi-fictional works fashionable at the time, such as periodicals, travel narratives, epistolary works, or criminal biographies—genres which are important not only in and of themselves, but also in terms of how they shape the conventions of the novel, the genre of choice and the ultimate guardian of the literary real from this period onwards. 

Texts and Materials

The following books are available at the EMU Bookstore in the Student Center.  If you order them online, make sure to get the same editions by double checking the ISBN number, a fingerprint of sorts for the book:





Elizabeth Inchbald, A Simple Story (Broadview, 2007; ISBN 1551116154)

Alan Richardson, Ed., Three Oriental Tales (Houghton Mifflin, 2002; ISBN 0618107312)

William Godwin, Caleb Williams (Penguin, 2005; ISBN 0141441232)

The remaining texts can be found online and then printed for free in the campus computer labs.  See the Electronic Reserves (ER) page:, password 563.  *** Make sure to bring a copy of each text that we cover in class, whether found in the ER or an actual book.  You will need everything on hand for groupwork and class discussion.

Assessment Weights


Weekly Homework & Class Participation

minimum length:

due dates:


Proposal for Research Paper

4 pages

November 25 (9:15 PM)


Conference-Style Presentation on Topic

8 minutes

December 15 (5:00 PM)


Research Essay

16-20 pages

December 18 (12:00 PM)

Coursework & Assignments

Consult with me as early as possible in the term to brainstorm possible topics for the research paper, which constitutes a large proportion of the final grade with the homework coming in a close second.  Instead of cumulative exams, there will be various kinds of informal assignments due almost every week to ensure ongoing participation and progress: composing discussion questions, writing informal responses, presenting on outside reading, or serving as a respondent for the other students.  Everyone will cycle though these tasks twice over the semester, beginning with a different one based on the group number and then doing the rest in turn.  See the Weekly Homework Assignments handout for more detailed descriptions of each task (/hmwk.htm). 

There is no groupwork properly speaking—i.e. working collaboratively with peers on the same assignment—so you do not have to meet with peers outside of class or have other people besides yourself in a group.  The groups are simply a way to organize which student does what (and with which text) each class period: diversifying the topics that we highlight in the discussion, the people who are responsible for bringing them to our attention, as well as the skills and approaches which used to do so.  Most of the period will be structured around the interactive discussion that results from presenting on the homework. 

Instructor Availability

I will be delighted to discuss any course-related questions, interests, or concerns in person or by phone during my office hours, as well as through email.  Email is the most reliable way to reach me outside of the office since the messaging system for my phone is dysfunctional at best.  Emails with straight-forward questions usually receive a reply within a few hours to a day; those with more complicated questions usually receive a reply before the next class period.  Please limit your email inquiries to those which I alone can answer so that I can give more pressing inquiries the attention which they deserve.  For example, if you are unsure about a due date, consult the syllabus, the handouts, or the peers in your group (/groups.htm) and then make sure to consult me whenever that confusion persists. 

Campus Safety

Please sign up for the emergency text-messaging system ( so that on the off-chance a calamity afflicts the university, the campus police can notify us.  Also consider availing yourself of the campus escort service, Student Eyes and Ears for University Safety, by calling 48-SEEUS (487-3387).


Because this course primarily consists of reading and discussion—rather than facts, figures, or memorization—regular attendance is crucial.  You never need to explain your absences, as I always assume that you have an excellent reason to miss class.  However, as per English Department policy, students who miss more than two classes will not be eligible to pass.  Reserve the allowable absences for illnesses, car accidents, or other emergencies that prevent you from coming to campus and make sure not to exhaust them too early in the term.  When you are absent, contact the students in your group (/groups.htm) to share notes or determine what you missed.  All absences up to the third are automatically excused, the missed homework is due on your return, and any changes to the schedule will be sent to the class as a whole by email.

Academic Integrity

Fundamental to any college course is the free expression of thought, which requires not only learning the subject at hand, but being able to make independent judgments about it.  Understanding and avoiding plagiarism, and doing all of the course work on your own, is therefore imperative.  Copying the assignments of peers, taking credit for essays which you find on the internet, or recycling your own essays for double credit are all forms of academic dishonesty, and for very good reason.  Each interferes with the sole purpose, and the unique benefit, of going to college; namely, the unfettered exercise of an informed mind. 

Plagiarism, put simply, is taking either the ideas or the words of another person and reusing them as if they are your own.  It does not matter whether you are drawing on Wikipedia for mundane information or channeling the most holy of books for heavenly inspiration, you must acknowledge when you make use of the concepts or expressions of other people under any circumstances.  When describing the ideas of someone else in your own words, make sure to state as such (So and so says X ... ); most importantly, when inserting the words of someone else into your writing, make sure to credit that person for the passage and place quotation marks on either side (So and so says, “X”).  Writing that lacks such acknowledgements will pass as your own by default, and writing that thus seems to be your own, without actually being your own, will be plagiarizing the original source. 

Any cheating, plagiarism, or other academic dishonesty will result in an automatic 0% grade for the assignment; any second instance will result in an outright failure of the course.  There is no excuse for academic dishonesty, nor any exceptions to this policy. 



All texts are located in the Electronic Reserves (ER) unless otherwise noted.  The number-letter combinations in parentheses correspond to the group and member designations found on the Group Assignments handout (/groups.htm); that is, “2b” would be member B of Group 2, while “3ab” would be both Members A and B of Group 3.

Week One (September 8): Overview of Course and Period

Course Introduction; Student Introductions; Conjectural Response

Week Two (September 15): Colonial Encounters

Context: “Restoration and Eighteenth Century,” Parts I & II, from Longman Anthology

Theory: Mary Louise Pratt, “Arts of the Contact Zone” (2ab)

Texts: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Turkish Embassy Letters (1a, 2a)

         Richard Steele, “Inkle and Yarico” (2b)

         Joseph Addison, “Royal Exchange” (1b)

Optional: Aravamudan, “Montagu in the Hammam (3a); Kietzman, “Cultural Dislocation” (3b); Konuk, “Ethnomasquerade” (3c)

Optional Context: Montagu (Oxford DNB entry); Hulme, “Inkle and Yarico”

Homework: DQ (Group 1); Response (Group 2); Research (Group 3); Respondent (Group 4)

Week Three (September 22): Black Diaspora

Context: Felicity Nussbaum, Introduction to Global Eighteenth Century (2a)

Theory: Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, “Tropes of Empire” (3abc)

Texts: Mary Prince, History of Mary Prince (2b, 3abc)

Optional: Gilroy, “Black Atlantic as Counterculture” (4a); Festa, “Making Humans Human” (4b)

Optional Context: Morgan, “Caribbean Islands in Atlantic Context”

Homework: DQ (Group 2); Response (Group 3); Research (Group 4); Respondent (Group 1)

Week Four (September 29): Orienting the Enlightenment

Context: Alan Richardson, Begin Three Oriental Tales introduction [OT], pg. 1-7

Theory: Edward Said, Selections from Orientalism (3c, 4ab)

Texts: Frances Sheridan, History of Nourjahad [OT] (4ab)

Criticism: Margaret Anne Doody, “Morality and Alienated Time” [OT] (3a)

               Felicity Nussbaum, “Empire of Love” [OT] (3b)

Optional: Alloula, Colonial Harem (1a); Fabian, “Of Dogs Alive, Birds Dead, and Time to Tell a Story” (1b)

Homework: DQ (Group 3); Response (Group 4); Research (Group 1); Respondent (Group 2)

Week Five (October 6): Eroticizing the Oriental

Context: Alan Richardson, Continue Three Oriental Tales introduction [OT], pg. 1-7

Theory: Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather (1ab)

Texts: William Beckford, Vathek [OT] (1ab, 4ab)

Optional: Haggerty, Men in Love (2a); Silverman, “The Dominant Fiction” (2b)

Optional Criticism & Context: Potkay, “Beckford’s Heaven of Boys” [OT]; Hitchcock, English Sexualities

Homework: DQ (Group 4); Response (Group 1); Research (Group 2); Respondent (Group 3)

Week Six (October 13): Amorous Fiction

Context: Deidre Lynch, “Novels in the World of Moving Goods” (2a)

Theory: William Warner, Abridged version of “Elevation of the Novel” (2b)

Texts: Aphra Behn, “History of the Nun” (1a, 2a)

Samuel Richardson, Selections from Pamela (1b)

Oliver Goldsmith, Selections from Vicar of Wakefield (2b)

Optional: Watt, Rise of the Novel (3a); Gallagher, Nobody’s Story (3b); Brown, “Why the Story” (3c)

Homework: DQ (Group 1); Response (Group 2); Research (Group 3); Respondent (Group 4)

Week Seven (October 20): Performing Gender and Genre

Context: “Restoration and Eighteenth Century,” Part III, from Longman Anthology

Theory: Ruth Perry, Abridged version of “Colonizing the Breast” (3abc)

Texts: Eliza Haywood, Fantomina (2a, 3ab)

Henry Fielding, “Female Husband” (2b, 3c)

Optional: Butler, Gender Trouble (4a); Castle, “‘Matters Not Fit’” (4b)

Optional Context: Eliza Haywood (Gale entry); Haywood, “Female Spectator”

Homework: DQ (Group 2); Response (Group 3); Research (Group 4); Respondent (Group 1)

Week Eight (October 27): The Imperial Interior

Context: Anna Lott, Begin Simple Story introduction [11-22]

Theory: Ann Bermingham, Abridged “Picturesque & Ready-to-Wear Femininity” (3a, 4ab)

Texts: Begin Elizabeth Inchbald, Simple Story [1-114] (3bc, 4ab)

Optional: Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction (1a); Foucault, “We Other Victorians” (1b)

Homework: DQ (Group 3); Response (Group 4); Research (Group 1); Respondent (Group 2)

Week Nine (November 3): Masquerade

Context: Anna Lott, Continue Simple Story introduction [23-34]

Theory: Terry Castle, Masquerade and Civilization (1ab, 4a)

Texts: Continue Elizabeth Inchbald, Simple Story [115-218] (1ab, 4b)

Optional: Jameson, Political Unconsciousness (2a); Stallybrass & White, “Poetics of Transgression” (2b)

Homework: DQ (Group 4); Response (Group 1); Research (Group 2); Respondent (Group 3)

Week Ten (November 10): Domestic Fiction

Context: Anna Lott, Finish Simple Story introduction [35-46]

Texts: Finish Elizabeth Inchbald, Simple Story [219-342]

Homework: Write a response to Inchbald’s novel incorporating 2 quotes, one from Castle and another from the appended materials depending on your group: Appendix A (Group 1); Appendix B (Group 2); Appendix C #1-3 (Group 3); Appendix C #4-5 (Group 4).

Week Eleven (November 17): Representing Revolution

Context: Maurice Hindle, Begin Caleb Williams introduction [ix-xxv]

Theory: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Towards the Gothic: Terrorism and Homosexual Panic”

Texts: Begin William Godwin, Caleb Williams [1-115]

Optional Criticism: Corbert, “‘Representing the Unspeakable’”; Balfour, “Promises, Promises”

Homework: Begin work on the Research Proposal (/essay.htm), due November 25 by 9:15 PM; Also pick a passage from the novel to discuss in class, finding at least one connection to a literary text covered in different weeks depending on your group: Weeks 1-2 (Group 1); Weeks 3-4 (Group 2); Weeks 5-6 (Group 3); Week 7 (Group 4).

Week Twelve (November 24): Gothic Novel I

Context: Maurice Hindle, Continue Caleb Williams introduction [xxv-xli]

Texts: Continue William Godwin, Caleb Williams [6-220]

Optional Criticism: Bender, “Impersonal Violence”

Homework: Finish the Research Proposal (/essay.htm) by 11/25; Also pick a passage from the novel to discuss in class, finding at least one connection to a theorist covered in different weeks depending on your group: Weeks 3-4 (Group 1); Weeks 5-6 (Group 2); Week 7 (Group 3); Weeks 1-2 (Group 4).

Week Thirteen (December 1): Gothic Novel II

Texts: Finish William Godwin, Caleb Williams [221-336]

Homework: Write a response to Godwin’s Caleb Williams incorporating two quotes, one from a theorist or critic covered in Weeks 11-13 and another from a theorist covered in different weeks depending on your group: Weeks 5-6 (Group 1); Weeks 7 (Group 2); Week 1-2 (Group 3); Weeks 3-4 (Group 4).

Week Fourteen (December 8): Individual Conferences in Lieu of Class (see Schedule)

Week Fifteen (December 15): Research Presentations (Essays due December 18 at 12 PM)


[Syllabus last modified September 8, 2008]