Final Portfolio Guidelines, Due 12-13 5pm

ENG 8354 Coursework Portfolio Assignment

1. Download, print out, and assemble in your portfolio the following items, in the following order; nonetheless, keep to a chronological order within each section:

  • Reading Question responses, exchanges, etc.
  • Annotated Bibliographies, including related posts
  • Any and all work posted online related to your final research project

You may also include the following:

  • any in-class writing or other materials generated over the semester in class
  • extra credit work or other stuff posted onto the blog (make sure you include your latest make-up posts from the blog)
  • any thoughts or reflections you might have as a result of doing this course or reading over your previous work

2.  Your reading journal for the term, scanned (anything too personal can be masked).

Once you have assembled these texts in some order (see below about handing in the hard copy), read over the semester’s total work here and answer the following questions in a brief (3-5 pp. essay, either single or double-spaced), which will serve as an overview of your work for the semester.  Once you’ve read over these materials, take a few hours to develop and write this essay.

3.  Final Self-Assessment Essay:

Take a few moments to reflect on what you’ve done and what you you’ve learned in this class.  Be specific and descriptive, but also be evaluative about your work products this term.  Where did your best work happen?  Where do you think your work could have been improved?  Be sure to answer the following questions in bold.

–I. Review your class-participation this term, including your Reading Questions and other kinds of online work posted.  Using specific examples taken from the blog or elsewhere, what did you learn this semester from the readings and research presented in class, in-class discussions, or yours or others’ contributions on the blog?  How did it affect (or not affect) the direction of your own research and writing?  How did you feel you contributed to others’ learning?  How did it contribute to your own learning and insights?

–II. Review your research and writing assignments (esp. annotated bibs, postings, and work for final research project).  Using specific examples, how much effort did you put into your assignments, and what have you learned about the research- and writing process?  Which aspects of the research- and writing-process did you find most challenging?  Which aspects did you find most interesting?  What might you use either in your own research or teaching?

–III. Review your reading journal and your own experience and understanding of reading and writing this term.  Using specific examples, what did you find to be some of the most important contexts for understanding the development of women’s fiction in this period?  Which projects of your classmates seemed most intriguing?  How do you see your own research project extending or revising existing work within these contexts?

–IV. [Open Question.  Pose it and answer it.  What have I missed?]

This essay is designed to help you reflect upon and retain a semester’s worth of work, and to help me evaluate your development as a researcher over this period.

4.  The completed portfolio should take the form of a single PDF (with journal scanned and including self-assessment essay) and emailed to me by 5 pm, Friday, 12/13/19. My grades will be due the following Monday, so there is very little leeway for late papers. Wrap it up and get it in. If you get stuck, let me know and I’ll see if I can help you get un-stuck.

Thanks for a great semester, and good luck!



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,





For next week: Woman of Colour and 500 word reflection on annotated bib

Since half the class was missing last Thursday, we’ll simply discuss the entirety of the Woman of Colour next week.

Each of you will also post a 500 word reflection essay on the blog by Wednesday evening on the results of your annotated bibliography.  Though the reflection is open, you may if you wish answer the following question: how did the research and writing for this bib change your views of this particular book, and of other books read this semester?

Keep thinking about the topics and authors you’d like to approach for your final assignment.

Let me know if you get stuck.

Take care,



Annotated Bib Due next Wednesday on Segment II (Burney, Wollstonecraft, or Anon.)


As we discussed in class, we’ll do a second, slightly more ambitious annotated bibliography next week.

  • Choose one writer from this segment: Burney, Wollstonecraft, or Anon. (Woman of Colour)
  • Select three peer-reviewed, relevant items that relate to a particular topic in one of those novels; you might want to consider potential topics connected to your final project at this point;
  • you may use the Broadview resources as a starting point for your research, but try to go beyond them, too;
  • Make sure that you’ve got some chronological range pre- and post-2000 for your items; if you’re doing Woman of Colour, just make sure you’ve got some chronological spread in the items available;
  • Annotations should be about 3-5 sentences each;
  • Do it as a standalone post on the blog by 9 pm Wednesday before class;
  • We’ll discuss results next Thursday, and you’ll follow up the next week with a 300-500 word reflective essay on your results and discussions;

If you have questions, put ’em on the blog in the comments.

See you soon,


UPDATE: Missing: Robinson, Maillet [excused]

DH Work In Progress presentation on Watt, Gender, and Female Novelists

Hi folks,

Some graduate students of mine, Walter Barta and David Bishop, have been working for some time on a Digital Humanities research project involving Ian Watt, Gender, and 18c female novelists.

I thought it would be helpful for them to present some of their work in progress to the seminar, so you can see some of their work and they can hear your comments and questions based on our reading so far. For that reason, I’m setting aside the final half hour of the seminar for a very brief presentation and some Q&A.

Otherwise, class will proceed as planned with Wollstonecraft and Johnson.

Thanks, and see you soon,





Wollstonecraft, Wrongs of Woman + Johnson, Equivocal Beings

This week, along with the Wollstonecraft Wrongs of Woman, I’d like you to read the Introduction and Chs. 1 and 2 (Wollstonecraft) portions of Claudia Johnson’s Equivocal Beings, which is available online through the library catalog. 

Please collect a few passages from both MW and the Johnson, and be prepared to talk about how “sentimentality” affects the “literary,” “realism,” and “politics” questions we’ve pursued this term in other authors. Post your best passage or question below in the comments.

Bonus question: how many different ways are female novelists and audiences caught up in the question of cultural transmission? How do those get figured by MW and her contemporaries?

Have a great weekend,



[Missing: Valentine, Shepherd, McCafferty, Maillet, Robinson]


This week for Evelina I’d like each of you to post in the comments a passage and a question that shows, in one way or another, the characteristic differences between Burney and Richardson, even as they both write epistolary, sentimental fiction centered around a heroine’s plight. So in terms of characterization, plot, setting, dialogue, etc.

Each of you will be swapping and answering each others’ questions in class (not your own).

See you Thursday,


Missing (10am): McCafferty, Valentine, Shepherd, Maillet