Clarissa, Week 4 (883-1499)

Next Thursday will be our first Reflection Day, when we can discuss the texts we’ve read and the research you’ve posted, to see where we stand in relation to our material so far.

One of my fundamental teaching principles is that students need to present the results of their work to one another, in order to learn the material more thoroughly, and that they need to participate in independent inquiry and then collective discussion and reflection to do the kinds of work demanded by the discipline, whether at the college major, graduate, or professional level.

Here’s my description and rationale for the first annotated bib assignment:

  1. Review and, if necessary, selectively reread Richardson, to see which portions you might wish to focus upon.
  2. Go through a similar review process with your previous blog posts, class notes, reading journals, and the secondary criticism we’ve excerpted for class discussion.  You are encouraged to read and respond to your classmates’ posts as well. Have there been any areas that interested you since we began?  Inquiries begun with one author that another author seemed to answer, or at least to respond to?  Questions that you’d like to pursue further, either in relation to the original author or on a broader scale?
  3. Choose a topic that allows you to reconstruct a broader critical or cultural context for understanding Richardson’s work.  The focus should remain on Richardson, though you may also consider SR in relation to one or both of the two earlier authors.  This topic could be literary generic (e.g., amatory fiction and its formal conventions of plot, characterization, etc.); it could be social-historical (practices of marriage, courtship, and child-rearing; sexual violence and/or prostitution; social class or rank; etc.); political (traces of party conflict and/or political history in characterization) or philosophic (questions of autonomy or identity) and so forth.
  4. Gather together a limited, selective bibliography featuring 2 items on your topic: 2 articles, gathered from MLA Bibliography, Project Muse (req. Muse acct/signin), or JSTOR, pre- and post-1985.  (In addition to the database guides, you may also try the library’s new Search, though you should know that it’s still being tweaked). Your topic should offer a critical context for reading Clarissa.
  5. Briefly annotate each item with about 3-5 sentences.
  6. For models, see, e.g., this explanation from the Purdue OWL. There are lots of other guides to annotated bibs online.
  7. Post this online Wednesday evening before class, and be prepared to talk about your research, what we’ve learned, and your latest questions about this initial grouping of novels and novelists. [For posting, see this link in WP help.]

Any questions?  Put them up on the blog.  I’m also happy to chime in with suggestions if you get stuck.  Good luck, DM

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Author: Dave Mazella

I am an Associate Professor of English at the University of Houston, Department of English, specializing in 18th-century British literature.

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