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English 311 The English Novel TTh 12:30-1:45
Spring 2020

This is a "real time" syllabus that, unlike a print syllabus, will be regularly updated and reflect our progress throughout the semester. You can easily check it from a mobile device or from any computer.

The syllabus consists of the Reading Schedule and Course Policies. You are responsible for understanding and following the schedule and the course policies, which are in effect from the first day of class. Please read them carefully (more than once and throughout the semester). Please see me if you have any questions about them.

Think of the syllabus as a flexible guide. It will structure our semester, but we will adjust it to fit our needs as the semester progresses. Not all assignments and quizzes are listed at the beginning of the semester; some will be added throughout the semester. It may also be necessary to finish some readings the following class period, in which case I will update the syllabus after each class. Again, be sure to check the syllabus regularly.

You do not need to print the syllabus, but if you decide to, be sure to check the online syllabus regularly for new information, added assignments, or reading schedule changes. The print icon above is for print copies.

Assignments may be modified as necessary.

Reading should be finished for the day assigned, e.g., Oroonoko should be completed for class by Feb. 28. Please bring the required books for each class meeting.  When reading the novels, be sure to consult the critical introductions and notes.  Course Notes (website) will also help you prepare for class and to study outside of class.  For Dombey and Son, we will break up reading by chapters.

Tuesday Thursday
21 Course Introduction

23 Bkgrd: The English Novel

Reading Schedule Card Due
28 Oroonoko--Critical Introduction (focus on xxi-xxiv)
Dedication/pgs 1-37
30 Oroonoko
**pgs 1-37: Old King--Oroonoko--Imoinda
**pgs 37-56: Life in Surinam
Tuesday Thursday
04Meet in computer lab 307 CCC

Designing Web pages/Web pages Group Project Introduction
06 Oroonoko
**pgs 56-77: slave revolt, death of Imoinda and Oroonoko, role of the narrator

In-class group work - card

11 Oroonoko (bring Robinson Crusoe too)
**Political bkgrd/context for the novella (critical intro xxvii-xxix)
**Continuation of pgs 56-77/group findings - cards
**Experience of reading Oroonoko/Characterization & Plotting
**Context: History of the English Novel
13 Bring Oroonoko & RC
Oroonoko brief final thoughts

RC (pp 1-100)
**Crusoe's life/adventures before his shipwreck
**Crusoe's life on the island

Work informally in groups

Quiz 1: Field is Oroonoko + first 100pgs of Robinson Crusoe
18 RC  (Consider the entire novel)

Work informally in groups on our four main areas of contextualization:
1.) RC as adventure story, 2.) the novel's form/writing style, 3.) as an economic story, 4.) as a story that addresses pyschological, sprititual, and philosophical
20 RC

Continue with discussion from 2/18 (four contexts for the novel); apply to the "second" half of the novel.  More specifically:
**Role of religion in the novel
**Concept of time/middle station in life
**Capitalist economy/economy on the island/slave trading
**Concept of adventure

Critical Intro: xv-xxiv
Tuesday Thursday

Quiz 2
10 Emma

Take Home Portion of Midterm (No early exams)
12 Take Home Portion of Midterm Due (Late exams will not be accepted)
Midterm--In-Class Portion (No early exams)
17Spring Break 19 Spring Break
24Emma 26 Emma
31Emma 02April
Look Below

Tuesday Thursday
31 March
Look Above
02 Emma/DS--Critical Introduction
07DS 09DS
14DS 16DS
21DS 23DS
28DS 30DS
Tuesday Thursday
05 Course Wrap Up 07 Reading Day - Study for the Final Exam

Finals Week: May 11 - May 15
Final Exam: May 12, Tuesday, 8:00-10:00am

Course Grades Posted: TBA

Course Description and Learning Outcomes

The General Education Program Learning Outcomes for the Humanities (Investigation Level) are as follows:
  • Read closely, think critically, and write effectively about texts or cultural artifacts that reflect on perennial questions concerning the human condition (such as the search for truth and meaning, the confrontation with suffering and mortality, or the struggle for justice, equality, and human dignity)
  • Investigate and thoughtfully respond to a variety of ideas, beliefs or values held by persons in situations other than one's own

Note how this course meets these learning outcomes. We will read and discuss five English novels, focusing on their aesthetic value as works of literature (art) as well as the historical, social, and cultural issues they present.We will discuss the historical development of the English novel as well as the novel itself as a genre. In addition, we will examine literary theory and criticism
(e.g., feminism, Marxism, poststructualism) as a way of reading, thinking, and writing about the English novel.

During the semester, we will work to

  • Summarize and explain plots and themes when reading literature individually and during class discussions
  • Analyze literature critically in writing to demonstrate an understanding of key themes, of the conventions/language of literature, and of key concepts about the English novel
  • Recognize the historical, social, and cultural contexts for the English novel aswell as the ways literature and culture interact to reinforce and challenge social attitudes and values
  • Construct webpages in order to present information about the English novel to readers
  • Evaluate and engage literature as an imaginative expression of the human condition
Texts (Available at Text Rental)

Purchase at Bookstore (or from another vendor).  We will use the Penguin editions of these novels and make use of the critical introductions and background/context notes.  If you do
not purchase these editions, you will not have this information.  You will also not be able to follow page references during class discussions.

Behn, Aphra. Oroonoko
Defoe, Daniel.  Robinson Crusoe
Austen, Jane.  Emma
Dickens, Charles. Dombey and Son


During class discussions we will focus on key issues, difficult passages, and questions you raise.  However, we cannot cover every line or every work.  You will be responsible for parts of works we do not have time to cover in class, using your notes and our discussions to guide your (re)reading/thinking. You should be prepared to discuss the reading assignments for the days they are scheduled. It is useful to mark key passages or scenes that point to central concerns or ideas in the works that are read. Take notes when you read outside of class and write down questions you have. The purpose of class discussion is not to give you answers; instead, class discussions will help you develop reading strategies, understand background/contexts, and raise questions that you will think about and answer. There will be weekly quizzes (announced and possbily unannounced) and two examinations (a midterm and a final).

Please remember that your course grade will be based on the work that you complete, not simply the effort you make or my subjective opinion.

Course Grade %
Assignments/Quizzes** 20%
Take Home/In-class Midterm 45%
Webpage Project 35%
** Will be determined by point values: A=10; A- =9; B =8.5; C =7.5; D =6.5; F=5-0//5pts: A=5; B- =4; C- =3.5; D- = 3; F=2.5-0

Assignments or quizzes due/given on a set day must be submitted/completed during the class period. Having an assignment finished but not printed out and ready to hand in is late. Late assignments will be accepted one day after the original due date, but will lose one letter grade or the point equivalent. After that, no credit will be given. Assignments due electronically must be received by the day and time specified. (Assignments due on Friday will be accepted as late on Monday.) Makeup quizzes, if feasible, must be arranged as soon as possible.  It is your responsiblity to see me and make arrangements; however, it may not be possible to make up missed assignments or quizzes.

For any special circumstances or problems, please contact me ahead of time. Also, no incompletes for the course will be given.


Regular attendance is your responsibility and is essential for success in the course. As stated in the online UWSP Course Catalog (UWSP Course Catalog pgs 25-26), you cannot "cut" classes. There are no excused or unexcused absences. You have personal days to use and manage as needed.

If you miss a total of two weeks of class (six days for classes meeting three times a week; four days for classes meeting twice a week), you may fail the course.

If you are absent, you do not need to email me to explain your absence--unless there is a quiz or assignment due.  If you would like to find out about missed information or handouts, it is best to stop by during office hours or make an appointment to see me. You can email me about missed information, but I may not be able to respond before our next class meeting. 

However, if an assignment is due or there is a quiz, then you do need to email me or see me the day of the assignment due date or quiz or asap.  And you must have a legitimate reason for your absence. You cannot just expect to be able to turn in a missed assignment or make up a quiz the following class period.

Classroom Etiquette

During class meetings, we will discuss and debate issues about writing and literature. It is fine to express your views passionately and debate others in class, but do so in a civil, constructive manner.

Please do not use phones and mobile devices during class, even if you believe you are doing so quietly. Not only is this rude, but also it distracts other students as well as limits your ablity to focus on and follow class instruction and discussion. It is English Department policy that students cannot and should not record class lectures and discussion without permission from the intstructor. Also, please get drinks of water or use the washroom before or after class, not during class, so that our classroom does not become a bus station. Please see me if you need special accomodations.

Plagiarism (from the Latin "to Kidnap")

You will be expected to do your own work throughout the course. Intentionally or unintentionally passing off the ideas, words, or sentences of others (e.g., published authors, website authors, other students) as your own is plagiarism, which will result in failing the plagiarized assignment and possibly the course. Please review the University policy regarding plagiarism.

Anyone caught cheating during quizzes or exams (e.g., looking at someone else's paper or using a cell phone) will fail the quiz or exam and be reported to the Dean of Students Office.