Make-Up Blog Posts, Questions



[visualizations of the semester’s readings]

Since we’ve had a number of absences, flood days, and missed blog posts, rather than having people redo earlier work, I’ve decided that it would be more useful for you to pose or answer some reflective questions for the end of term. For every absence or missed blog post, please answer one of these, or post a question/response of your own. You may also answer a question posted by one of your classmates. Make these responses a few paragraphs in length, and try to anchor your responses in the texts at hand.

Here are a few suggestions of mine:

  • Name an aspect of the writers, genres, books, or themes of this semester that only became clear to you in the last few weeks of the semester;
  • Which of these books would you teach to undergraduates, in what kind of course would you teach it, and why?
  • Trace an important keyword from the semester (e.g., sentimental, passion, duty, pride, propriety, etc) across 2-3 novels.
  • Talk a bit about the theatrical, performative, or insincere characters in these books and their respective fates: why does this topic recur across the semester?
  • How are reading, writing, or taste discussed in one or two of the novels this semester?

You are welcome to create your own questions to answer, but include these in the response so that others can answer your question, as well.

Please post these as comments below, and don’t forget them when you assemble your portfolios.

Good luck!



Final Research Project Guidelines, Due 12/13 w/Portfolio

As discussed, here are the basic guidelines for the final research project:

  • The final essay topic should involve at least one writer and work on our syllabus, to be compared or contrasted with a second writer and work not on the syllabus, but which shares a common context with the first primary source (this can be historical or contemporary, as long as there is a common generic link).  Ask yourself: what insight is to be gained by juxtaposing these texts and works?  You may build on any of your previous work for the course, and are encouraged to use each others’ posts and suggestions etc. to hunt down sources.  Previous in-class conversations and others’ input are also fair game for developing your topic, but be sure to trace back your insights to a scholarly source wherever possible.
  • The length should run anywhere from 15-20 pages, enough to allow a substantial discussion of the authors and works at hand, and to permit an examination of the relevant biographical, historical, and critical contexts shared by these works.
  • The relevant scholarship on the individual authors, as well as the common contexts, will be not merely enumerated, but synthesized and related to the essay’s claims.  The citations, which should number at least 6-8, including scholarly biographies when relevant (ODNB etc), should meet scholarly expectations in terms of the relevance, accuracy, timeliness, etc of your sources on your primary sources and secondary-critical debates.
  • I remain available for drafts etc. Let me know if you get stuck.
  • This will be due 12/13 by 5 pm, emailed to me as a single PDF, along with a single PDF of the portfolio and self-assessment essay (guidelines to come).

For those of you still wondering about the problem of inserting yourself into the scholarly “conversation” regarding this era’s writing, this little excerpt from Graff and Birkenstein’s They-say/I-say  might be useful for us as we talk about formulating your topic and narrowing down the problem you want to set for yourself in your research.

If you have questions, put them on the blog.

Good luck,


Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (1814) & Final Projects

We’re going to read MP this Thursday and continue our discussions of the final project.

As you read MP, think about the differences in the depictions of the West Indies and the slave trade between the Woman of Colour (1808) and MP. What representational choices did Austen make that Anon. did differently? What implications would you draw from those choices?

We’ll also discuss the differences between this heroine and her story and the earlier fiction. Whatever other issues you find of interest please bring to class for us to discuss.

As for the final project, I’d like you each to put into the comments some kind of status report about the emerging topic. It could take a number of different forms:

  • a formal proposal, including authors and works, topic, and a few potential scholarly secondary sources;
  • a free-write about your topic, with the literary works you’re using and any potential scholarly sources;
  • a passage from one or more of your sources that you feel could be researched and elaborated into a more extended essay.

Please post those by Wednesday evening so we can discuss them in class on Thursday.

See you soon,


Austen, Manuscript Works/Juvenilia

This week, I’d like you to skim through the unpublished 3 volume Juvenilia (1786-93). Browse the volumes however you wish, but I recommend “Henry and Eliza,” “The Beautiful Cassandra,” “Love and Freindship” and “Catharine, or the Bower.”

As you read these, keep some notes in your reading journal about any parallels you see between these parodies and the novels of the previous weeks. We’ll share the parallels in class on Thursday. What elements of theme, plot, characterization, or setting do you see reworked and made visible by her satire?

This might also help you identify some of the genres and themes you might extend for your final project. We’ll do some brainstorming in class about your topics as well.

See you Thursday,