online syllabus:


course shell:

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professor info:



office hours:

603j pray Harrold hall

tuesday 3:00–5:00 pm


~ schedule ~

Literature 420:

Studies in the British Novel

Winter 2016

Dr. Abby Coykendall


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Tuesday 6:30–9:10 pm

Pray-Harrold Hall 318

Course #201620


 “The private person who squares his accounts with reality in his office demands that the interior be maintained in his illusions. … From this springs the phantasmagorias of the interior. For the private individual the private environment represents the universe. In it he gathers remote places and the past. His drawing room is a box in the world theater.”

— Walter Benjamin, “Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century,” Reflections

Course Description: LITR 420 will investigate the British novel as a genre by attending to the development of the canonical novel during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We will delve into some of the most celebrated novels of all time—Jane Austen’s Emma (1815), Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1861), and Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady (1881)—to examine the ways in which these works at once conform to and seek to revolutionize the conventions of the genre. In addition, we will look at early innovations in prose fiction during the eighteenth century—Eliza Haywood’s Love in Excess (1720) and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740)—to query what was at stake for Anglo-American societies in ultimately favoring some narrative forms over others with the appellation of “novel.” Throughout, we will take into consideration the social, historical, economic, and geopolitical ramifications of the novel as a narrative form: questioning the limitations of its mode of representation and its aura of realism, for example, as an entrée into a larger interrogation of the changes in the dominant culture that the novel has for so long been compelled to reflect. To make this enquiry more effective, we hone in on a particular type of British novel, albeit that most epitomizing the genre: the bildungsroman, or novel of development. Whether written by men or women, these novels are often thought to center on a female character within a “nuclear” family (or orphaned from one) who meets a man (otherwise known as a “hero”), falls in love (in doing so, becomes a “woman”), and ends up happily reproducing a nuclear family of her own (or, at least, the reader imagines she does). However, few novels in the canon, including those that we will read for this term, actually follow this familiar script. As we trace the various trials and tribulations of our protagonists, we will probe why the development of the individual becomes such a vexed matter of cultural concern and see how different classes, races, and sexualities disturb that individual’s supposedly “natural” imperative of reproducing the social order.

Catalogue Description:

This course will explore the emergence and development of the novel as a popular genre in English literature, with special emphasis on the cultural, political and historical conditions that it both reflects and helps to construct.

Required Textbooks:

Books are available for purchase at the EMU Bookstore in the Student Center, as well as at online merchants (Amazon, Powell’s, Barnes & Noble) or other university bookstores in the area. Make sure to get the correct edition, in bound not electronic form, pictured below by double-checking the ISBN number (a fingerprint of sorts for the book).



Eliza Haywood, Love in Excess; or, The Fatal Enquiry, 2nd ed. (Broadview, 2000), ISBN# 1551113678

Samuel Richardson, Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded (Oxford, 2008), ISBN# 019953649X

Jane Austen, Emma, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 2008), ISBN# 0199535523

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (Penguin, 2002), ISBN# 0141439564

Henry James, Portrait of a Lady (Oxford, 2009), ISBN# 0199217947

Bring whatever novel we are reading for the week with you to class. You will need everything on hand for groupwork and class discussions. Note: these novels have been reissued by multiple publishers, in multiple editions over time, and it’s crucial that you have the correct edition, with the correct page numbers, to follow along in class discussion.




Participation (Homework, Quizzes, & In-Class Activities)


Examination #1 (in-class self-designed essay synthesizing Section I materials)


Examination #2 (in-class self-designed essay synthesizing Section II materials)


Research Essay (on one of the novels of your choice assigned for class)

Nothing is more vital for success in this course than keeping up with, and actively engaging in, the reading assignments and class discussions each day. The more actively you participate, the more the course content can reflect your unique needs and interests. As with any university course, homework will take around two hours to complete for every unit of class or, in other words, twelve hours per week.

Homework Tasks:

There will be informal assignments due almost every class period to ensure ongoing participation. You will cycle though these tasks over the course of the term, beginning with a different one depending on your group number (see the Schedule below).

For each of the tasks, you will need to email ( at least one quotation to share with the class (which will be on the class handout), and append a paragraph of your own explaining why you chose that particular quotation. You will have an opportunity to discuss the quotation with your peers in class.



Find an article focusing on the novel that we are reading for the week in Project Muse (; chose a passage that you believe significant to share, and discuss that significance in a paragraph of your own (don’t use books or reviews, only journal articles). Provide bibliographic information in your email.


Find another literary work to which our weekly novel alludes (during the actual section that we are reading), that the introduction mentions as related to it in some way, or that the novelist has also written (see Literature Online; chose a passage from the work that you believe significant to share, and discuss its significance in a paragraph of your own. Provide source information in your email.


Chose two passages in the section of our weekly novel that we are reading to share with the class, attaching paragraph of your own closely analyzing and comparing/contrasting them. Provide page numbers in your email.


Chose two passages in the section of our weekly novel that we are reading to share with the class that relate to one of its overarching themes, attaching paragraph of your own explaining your interpretation of that theme. Provide page numbers in your email.

These tasks are designed to diversify the topics that we highlight in the course, the students responsible for bringing certain kinds of issues to our attention, as well as the skills and approaches that students use to do so. Most of the class period will revolve around the interactive discussions that result from this homework. There is no “groupwork” properly speaking—that is, collaboration with peers on an identical project—so you do not have to meet with fellow group members outside of class.

Group Assignments:


Group One

Last name begins with A–Ca


Group Three

Last name begins with M–O

Group Two

Last name begins with Cb-L


Group Four

Last name begins with P-Z


Instructor Availability:

I will be delighted to discuss any course-related questions, interests, or concerns during my office hours, as well as at any time through email ( Emails with straightforward questions usually receive a reply within a few hours to a day; those with thornier issues usually receive a reply within a week. Please limit inquiries to those that I alone can answer so I can give the more pressing issues of other students the attention that they deserve. If, for example, you are unsure about a due date, consult the syllabus, the handouts in the course shell, or your peers in your class, and then email only if the confusion persists. The first visit to my office hours with a course-related inquiry, such as to get guidance on homework, discuss readings lately covered, or brainstorm essay ideas, will be worth extra credit.


Failure to participate regularly in class discussion makes achieving the course objectives difficult and, eventually, impossible. Reserve absences for illnesses, car accidents, or other unforeseen emergencies preventing you from coming to class and make sure not to exhaust your allowable absences too early in the term. Because this course primarily consists of reading and discussion—rather than facts, figures, or memorization—regular attendance is crucial. You never need to explain why you are absent, as I always will assume that you have an excellent reason to miss class. However, any student who misses TWO class periods for any reason will have their final grade reduced by a full mark (for example, lowered from A to B, B to C, etc.), and any student who misses THREE or more class periods will become ineligible to pass. When you must be absent, contact the other students in your group to share notes or determine what you missed. All missed homework is due on your return, and any changes to the schedule will be sent to the class as a whole by email.


The most essential information—due dates, assignment instructions, clarification of issues—is given at the beginning of class, so it is essential to come on time. Make sure to leave early just in case you encounter any problems along the way (traffic jams, late busses, no parking). Arriving well into the period or exiting well before its conclusion both count as half an absence. If you are late, it is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet to avoid being marked absent. Habitual lateness that disrupts the class eventually counts as an absence (or absences) as well.

Attendance will be taken both before and after the break. Half an absence will rounds down, but two half absences combine into one absence and you can only have two of those a term. The overall absences are tracked in the course shell:

Classroom Etiquette:

It is important to be mindful of your peers during class time, listening to them with the same respect and attention that you hope to receive yourself. Once class begins, do not distract your peers by walking in or out of the room unless there is a genuine emergency. If you have a medical condition requiring you to leave occasionally, bring a doctor’s note confirming as such; otherwise, conduct all personal business outside of class or during the break.

Disruptive exits can be both mental and physical. Students unprepared to discuss the materials for the day, or discovered using laptops or phones for purposes unrelated to the course, will be asked to leave and marked absent.

This course has a no-laptop, no-cell-phone policy. Put these instruments inside your bag during class time unless specifically asked to use them.


This class is meant to be a welcoming educational experience for all students, including those who may have challenges or disabilities that impact learning. If you find yourself having difficulty participating or demonstrating knowledge in this course, please feel free to contact me to discuss reasonable accommodations (preferably at least one week prior to the need), even if you currently lack a Disability Resource Center (DRC) accommodation letter. You can also contact the DRC directly to talk about possible accommodations (734-487-2470; 240K Student Center;

Grading Scale:






























University Policy:

In addition to the articulated course-specific policies and expectations, students are responsible for understanding all applicable University guidelines, policies, and procedures (see The EMU Student Handbook is the primary resource provided to students to ensure that they have access to all University policies, support resources, and students' rights and responsibilities. Changes may be made to the EMU Student Handbook whenever necessary, and shall be effective immediately, and/or as of the date on which a policy is formally adopted, and/or on the date specified in the amendment. Please note: Electing not to access the link provided below does not absolve a student of responsibility. For questions about any university policy, procedure, practice, or resource, please contact the Office of the Ombuds: 248 Student Center, 734.487.0074,, or visit the website:

Academic Resources & Campus Safety:

The University Writing Center (115 Halle Library; 487-0694) offers one-to-one writing consulting. Students are encouraged to come to the UWC at any stage of the writing process, and can make appointments or drop in between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays. Satellite locations and hours in Pray Harrold can be found on the UWC web site: The Academic Projects Center (116 Halle Library) offers one-to-one, drop-in consulting for students on writing, research, or technology-related issues. Another support center is the International Student Resource Center (200 Alexander, 487-0370) dedicated to second-language students from abroad.

Also consider availing yourself of the campus escort service, Student Eyes and Ears for University Safety, by calling 48-SEEUS (487-3387). If you sign up for the emergency text-messaging system (, DPS can notify us of any calamity afflicting the campus.

Academic Integrity:

Understanding and avoiding academic dishonesty, and doing all coursework on your own, is imperative. Copying the homework of peers, taking credit for essays that you find on the internet, cheating on exams, or recycling essays written for other classes for double credit are all forms of academic dishonesty.

The worst form of academic dishonesty is plagiarism, which, put simply, is taking either the ideas or the words of another person and reusing them as if they are your own.

You thus must acknowledge when you make use of the concepts and/or expressions of other people without any exception under any circumstance, whether it be by drawing on Wikipedia or Shmoop for information or channeling the most holy of holy books for heavenly inspiration.

When describing the ideas of someone else in your own words, make sure to signal as such (e.g., So and so says X … ”); most importantly, when inserting the words of someone else into your own writing, make sure to credit that person for the passage and place quotation marks on either side (e.g., So and so says “X”). Writing that lacks these acknowledgements will pass as your own by default, and any writing that thus seems to be your own, without actually being your own, will be plagiarizing the original source.

All instances of academic dishonesty will result in an automatic 0% grade for the assignment; second instances will result in outright failure of the course. There is no excuse for academic dishonesty, nor will there be any exceptions to this policy. Make sure that your work is plagiarism-free before turning it in.


Schedule for Studies in the British Novel (Winter 2016)


Exam guidelines and other class handouts are available in the course shell: Homework (i.e. a quotation and paragraph explanation, as described above) is due by email ( 12pm the day class meets. A small quiz each class period will ensure that everyone can participate in the discussion.

Jan 12

Introduction of Students, Course, & Topic

Jan 19

Novel: Eliza Haywood, Love in Excess (1720), Introduction, page 1–133

Homework: Group 1 (criticism); Group 2 (allusion); Group 3 (analysis); Group 4 (theme)

Jan 26

Novel: Continue Love in Excess, page 134–266

Homework: Group 1 (theme); Group 2 (criticism); Group 3 (allusion); Group 4 (analysis)

Feb 2

Novel: Samuel Richardson, Pamela (1740), Introduction, page 1–180

Homework: Group 1 (analysis); Group 2 (theme); Group 3 (criticism); Group 4 (allusion)

Feb 9

Novel: Finish Pamela, page 181–360 (skipping the remaining pages)

Homework: Group 1 (allusion); Group 2 (Analysis); Group 3 (theme); Group 4 (criticism)

Feb 16

Novel: Jane Austen, Emma (1815), Introduction, page 1–190

Homework: Group 1 (criticism); Group 2 (allusion); Group 3 (analysis); Group 4 (theme)

Feb 23

Spring Recess

Mar 1

Novel: Finish Emma, page 191–381

Homework: Group 1 (theme); Group 2 (criticism); Group 3 (allusion); Group 4 (analysis)

Mar 8

Exam One (self-designed essay exam tying together section materials)

Mar 15

Novel: Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1861), Introduction, page 1–161

Homework: Group 1 (analysis); Group 2 (theme); Group 3 (criticism); Group 4 (allusion)

Mar 22

Novel: Continue Great Expectations, page 162–322

Homework: Group 1 (allusion); Group 2 (analysis); Group 3 (theme); Group 4 (criticism)

Mar 29

Novel: Finish Great Expectations, page 323–485

Homework: Group 1 (criticism); Group 2 (allusion); Group 3 (analysis); Group 4 (theme)

Apr 5

Novel: Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady (1881), Introduction, page 1–194

Homework: Group 1 (theme); Group 2 (criticism); Group 3 (allusion); Group 4 (analysis)

Apr 9

JNT Dialogue: Homi Bhabha and Claudia Rankine (6–7:30 PM, McKenney Ballroom)

Apr 12

Conferences on research paper in PH 603J (continue reading Portrait of a Lady)

Apr 19

Novel: Finish The Portrait of a Lady, page 195–485

Homework: Group 1 (analysis); Group 2 (theme); Group 3 (criticism); Group 4 (allusion)

Apr 21

Exam Two, 5:30–7pm (self-designed essay exam tying together section materials)

Apr 26

Research Paper Due 12 pm by email (see guidelines in the course shell)

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