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]

[Amandelin Valentine: Clarissa Annotated Bib]

[posted on AV’s behalf–DM]

Chaber, Lois A. “Christian Form and Anti-Feminism in Clarissa.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 15, No. 3-4 (2003): 507 – 537.

In her strikingly reflective article, Chaber considers the complexity and ambiguity of Richardson’s representation of gender. She reviews the contemporary dogma of divine providence, bringing in Richardson’s own religious beliefs and correspondence to critique his gendered portrayal of Christian belief and worthiness. Particularly noting that, in this dogma, ‘suffering’ is understood as passively accepting the divine will of God and ‘acting’ is understood as working for one’s own aims rather than trusting to God, Chaber reveals Clarissa’s original sin as her defiance of her parents’ will and her temporary resolution to escape with Lovelace. Also employing an analysis of Richardson’s form as “an inversion of the classic tragic pyramid,” Chaber argues that Clarissa is ultimately redeemed when, faced with the imposed choice to either marry or prosecute Lovelace, she “does what she should have done earlier—nothing” (527, 532). Thus, while Richardson’s depiction of gender and credentials as a feminist or proto-feminist remain debated, Chaber argues that he puts forward a conflicted view of female agency that ultimately rewards Clarissa’s willingness to suffer and her devotion to the Christian path of ‘passivity’ with the highest of earthly esteem and heavenly reward.

Johnston, Elizabeth. “The Female Jailor and Female Rivalry in Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa.” Gender Forum, Köln Iss. 58 (2016): n.p.

Following a brief illumination of the history of Clarissa’s reception as a feminist, proto-feminist, or anti-feminist text, Johnston argues that it is not Clarissa herself, but rather the cast of villainous women around her, who best articulate the text’s negative view of women. While Clarissa is promoted as the feminine ideal, the women around her come up short—sometimes to disastrous effects, as Johnston demonstrates. She suggests that the novel indicts almost all of its women; from Clarissa’s own mother and sister, whose weakness and jealousy, respectively, alienate Clarissa from the family, to Mrs. Sinclaire and her sex workers, who resent and torture Clarissa, ultimately spurring Lovelace on to her rape. Though it is Lovelace who ultimately performs the act of rape and instigates Clarissa’s imprisonment, Johnston points out that he is allowed to be redeemed and humanized through the interiority and remorse of his letters; the Sinclaire house prostitutes have no such opportunity and, instead, confess their culpability and die unrepentant. Women—specifically fallen women—more specifically groups of women—are shown to be, as Johnston claims, “the root cause of all evil.” Women may be excellent, as Clarissa’s extreme virtue demonstrates, but they are more likely to be bad—and when they are bad, they are far, far worse than the men.

UPDATE: we’ll do annotated bibs tomorrow, finish reading the next class

I’m hearing that I was overoptimistic about the time needed to finish reading this book.

I’m revising our schedule slightly, so that everyone should post their selective annotated bibs tonight as standalone posts before class. Do those as your own posts, not as comments to mine. I will move the second blogging assignment I mentioned before to next week, to set up our final class on Richardso.

We’ll finish up the final portion of Clarissa the following class, so that we have time to do both assignments and discuss them.

If you’re having trouble with the annotated bib, or  WP posting generally, let me know on the blog or via email. If it gets too hard, send to me via email and I’ll post.

Thanks, and take care,


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