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!



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,





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]

Clarissa, Week 5 & Final Week (883-1499)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Here’s your reading journal assignment for this week:

Q: While you are reading the final installment (pp. 411-883), choose an important turning-point in the novel’s plot: it could be an action, an event, a disclosure of an important bit of news, or even an important realization by one of the characters. To some extent, this choice helps us decide which of the numerous stories told in this novel is the core narrative.

Think about the significance of this turning-point for the novel as a whole, collect passages and arguments in your journal, and be prepared to write about this turning-point for about 10 minutes at the beginning of class.

As you consider this episode and its significance, ask yourself this question: how does Richardson’s epistolary form influence the way he narrates this very extended “story”?

I’ll be posting materials related to the literariness and realism questions that arose last week.

See you soon,





Reading Journals

Over the years I’ve tried a number of different writing assignments in my undergrad and grad classes: blog posts, short response essays, in-class writing, write-ups of annotated bibliographies or special collection visits, as well as final research essays.

For this class, I’m trying out the reading journal, because I am convinced, like this instructor, “that brief but regular sessions of thought will allow students to become more invested in their own, independent thinking; and it will help them to achieve richer insights.” And because having students spend some of this time reading and reflecting on their reading might help them develop better insights, better habits of sustained thought, and a more integrated understanding of how this material might operate in the present moment.

Better yet, this practice falls in line with the course’s sustained focus on the processes of reading and writing that are documented and reflected in this era’s fiction as well as Austen’s own history, and it helps us become more aware of our own interlinked processes of reading and writing as we make our way through this material.

A few general principles:

  1. For in-class and out-of-class writing, use either a single notebook, or a single, scrollable document kept apart from your regular note-taking.  This will become the source for the semester’s sharing, posting, excerpting, etc., and will ultimately go into the end of semester portfolio as a single collection.
  2. Individual entries should be dated and have some kind of header (for the purpose of recovering stuff later), and can take on any aspect of the course’s reading or assignments that catch your interest. You may also talk about your history of reading, or your physical circumstances, if you’re interested in seeing how these affect your current reading.
  3. Quotation, common-placing, or other forms of selection of texts are fine as entries, though you should always ask why you’ve chosen the passages you have. Better syntheses, reflections, connections across your reading are the desired result for this kind of work.
  4. Roughly speaking, you should be writing at least 1-2 pp. a week, divided up however you see fit.
  5. I’ll be asking you to share some insights, questions, or examples with one another every week.

I’ll post some examples on the blog of possible approaches to entries, which you can take up and imitate or develop your own.  Let me know if any of this is unclear to you.

See you Thursday,