University of Wisconsin Oshkosh


English 38-212, English Literature II:
British literature from 1800 to the present

Section 1, Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:40-11:10, Polk 20
Spring 1998

Prof. Julie Shaffer

sculpture in winchester cathedral

Office: Radford 208
Phone: 424-7288

Office Hours: T, Th 11:20-11:50
Mon 2-4

Course Description; Texts; Course Requirements; Attendance and Late Paper Policy; Schedule
Visit my home page and the English Department Home Page for useful information and links

This literature class is meant to survey of British literature produced during the entirety of two centuries, including the Romantic period, the Victorian period, the modern period (1885-1945), and the post-modern or contemporary period, but we cannot hope to be exhaustive or even fair to any one period. Instead of working toward total coverage, we will be focusing instead on works that focus on a concern of Britons throughout the flowering and demise of the British empire - what constitutes normalcy and its inverse, or what constitutes frightening Otherness that defines, by negation or extreme, what it means to be sane, normal, and socially acceptable and useful. As such, you might say that our theme this semester is monstrosity, or normality versus otherness. Given that different periods have different views of what constitutes normalcy, of course, you may see shifts over the course of the works we read rather than any constant sense of what it means to be normal and socially viable. You'll find, too, that different works will take different foci; some may look at class issues, while others may look at gender issues, asking, for instance, what is normal for men, and how that might be different from what is normal for women.

As we read the story and novels listed below augmented by poems provided during the course of the semester, we will also focus on developing skills necessary for reading and writing literature in general - skills you will find useful in other literature classes or as you read literature on your own, and which you should find useful in any analytical work you might perform in other classes. In addition to a lot of reading in this course, in other words, you will also be doing a lot of discussing and writing about the works we read.

return to top of syllabus

Required Texts:

Mary Shelley, "Transformation"
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. 1818.
Elizabeth Gaskell. "The Poor Clare." On reserve.
Christina Rossetti, "Goblin Market." 1862.
Victorian poetry and story packet
Bram Stoker, Dracula 1897.
Modern poetry and story packet.
Fay Weldon. Life and Loves of a She-Demon. 1983.

return to top of syllabus

Course Requirements: Attendance and active participation are vital to making this course work for you and your classmates. This class will proceed by active class participation, and participating orally will comprise no small part of your grade: it can change your grade earned by written work in this class.

Written work: Short papers (3-4 double spaced typed pages on non-erasable paper) and two take-home essay exams. Together these will be worth 72% of your grade. You will also be writing paragraphs or position papers for each class meeting on topics pertinent to the book assigned that day or on themes pertinent to date. These, along with participation, will constitute 28% of your grade.

return to top of syllabus

Attendance and Late Papers: If you miss more than two weeks' worth of classes, your grade will start to drop. Once you miss three or more weeks of classes, you may fail. I do not differentiate between excused and unexcused absences except in cases of extreme illness, such as cancer, in which case you may be able to get a late drop for the class, for which you may need doctor's notes. Save absences, therefore, for when you really need them. Very late arrivals or very early departures will count as absences, as will your coming to class unable to add to discussion from utter unpreparedness - from not having read the text or performed written work leading into discussion, for instance. Absences may be offset by oral participation in class, with my approval. Assignments handed in late will also adversely affect your grade, unless you have discussed your need to hand a paper in late beforehand with me. Otherwise, get missed assignments and material covered in class from your classmates, whose phone numbers you will get in the first week of the semester. Generally, papers handed in late will drop one half letter grade for each day they're late, and after one week, they will not be accepted. Plagiarism, which I invariably catch, will result in a fail on the paper, a fail in the course, and action taken against you through the appropriate university channels. Newspaper reading, sleeping, private conversation in class, along with any other rudenesses, will not be tolerated.

return to top of syllabus

Hypothetical Class Schedule
subject to radical revision as needed

Week 1: Feb 3 & 5

Week 2: Feb 10 & 12
Discuss "Transformation" and paper writing

Week 3: Feb 17 & 19
"Transformation" paper due.

Week 4: Feb 24 & 26
Paper topics formulated in class; assignment on my door on Feb. 27, by noon, due March 10.

Week 5: March 3 & 5
Victorian poetry and short stories:
Rossetti, Goblin Market
Browning, "Porphyria's Lover" & "My Last Duchess"

Week 6: March 10 & 12
Victorian poetry and short stories:
Arnold, "Dover Beach; Hecht, "The Dover Bitch"
Gaskell, "The Poor Clare"
Frankenstein papers due.
Take-home exam on Victorian materials given.


Week 7: March 24 & 26
Take-home exam on Victorian poetry and short stories due.

Week 8: March 31 & April 2

Week 9: April 7 & 9

Week 10: April 14 & 16
Life and Loves of a She-Devil

Week 11: April 21 & 23
Life and Loves of a She-Devil
Paper on Dracula and/or Life and Loves of a She-Devil formulated, on my door on April 24 by noon; due May 5th

Week 12: April 28 & 30
Modernism - poetry and stories:
Ted Hughes, "Apple Tragedy"
Yeats, "Adam's Curse"
Auden, "Musee des Beaux Arts" and "As I Walked out One Evening"
Joyce, "The Dead"
Lawrence, "The Horse Dealer's Daughter"

Week 13: May 5 & 7
Modernist poetry and stories continued, plus these:
Hughes "Sad Steps"
Larkin, "The Old Fools"
Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium
Dracula/Life and Loves paper due.

Week 14: May 12 & 14
Catch-up; summary

return to top of syllabus
go to Julie Shaffer's list of courses taught
go to Julie shaffer's home page

last updated 10 December 1998
This site maintained by Julie Shaffer; e-mail: