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English 556
The Rise and Rise of the 18th-Century English Novel; Or,
Originary Tales and Critical Fables

John T. Harwood
Office: 227H Computer Building, University Park, PA 16802
Email: jth@psu.edu
Phone: Office 865-4764
Home 235-1198 (before 9:30 p.m., please);
FAX: 863-0459
Office hours: Thursday 12:00-1:00;
other times by appointment or serendipity.

Basic Texts
Tentative Schedule
Bibliographical Essay: The Interpretive Community

This seminar explores the origins, development, diffusion, and influence of the 18th-century British novel. The novel, as the story goes, "rises" in the 18th century -- no doubt, stimulated by the rise of science, the decline of religion, the emergence of the middle class, the commercialization and commodification of English taste, the sucess of colonization and capitalism, the changes in domestic architecture, and the creation of new reading publics (women, the middling classes, rural and urban gentlefolk) as well as more covert desires, especially those tied to gender, race, and class. (Whether the price of candles is an important factor I will not say.)

This wondrous "rise" was encouraged either by the increasing rationalism or the increasing sentimentality of the age (take your pick); indeed, the novel was either highly responsive to or remarkably oblivious to changes in ideas, outlooks, manners, mores, values, and practices in the household (marriage and the family) and the state. Each of these "explanations" satisfies some body of critics and would seem to be an ideal premise for understanding one or more of the texts we will read. While no single explanation satisfies very many critics, some explanations must be more plausible than others.

Our central task will be to determine what kinds of literary history are possible in the waning years of this century. Put more simply, what would a history of the British novel do? What is it a history of? What questions would it answer? What counts as evidence? Along the way, we'll read several thousand pages of fiction and chow on a large amount of cur rent criticism. By early December you will have produced an original piece of scholarship.

Class time will deal with central texts, major critical issues addressed by the interpretive community committed to eighteenth-century fiction, and with bibliographical resources and strategies for research in this area by present and future scholars and critics.

Basic Texts

Author Publisher Title
Mckeon Johns Hopkins Origins of the English Novel
Watt U of Cal. The Rise of the Novel
Austen OUP Northanger Abbey
Behn OUP Oroonoko
Bunyan OUP Pilgrim's Progress
Burney NAL Evelina
Defoe NAL Moll Flanders
Defoe Norton Robinson Crusoe
Fielding Norton Joseph Andrews
Fielding Norton Tom Jones
Goldsmith   The Vicar of Wakefield
Mackenzie Norton Man of Feeling
Richardson Penguin Pamela
Scott Penguin Old Mortality
Smollett NAL Humphry Clinker
Sterne OUP Tristram Shandy
Walpole Dover Castle of Otranto

Of these volumes, only Probyn has not arrived; I'll have to order Smollett as well. I'm not fussy about the texts themselves: if you have a different edition of Tom Jones don't bother to buy the Penguin edition. And if you've recently read the two Defoe novels on the list, by all means add an additional novel or two by him--the same principle applies for other writers. In any case, you should expect to read about 500 pages or so of primary materials each week. I 've tried to stagger the reading so that you do not read the longest novels in consecutive weeks.

You will be responsible for (1) a bibliographical essay on current scholarship on an author or problem -- all essays will be published on the Web; (2) an oral report related to the bibliographical essay; (3) two typed drafts of a critical or scholarly article (15-20 pages) that with several more revisions could be submitted to a scholarly journal; (4) informed discussion both of your colleagues' drafts and the texts to which they are responses; and (5) a comprehensive final exam. Since I fully subscribe to the principles we teach in English 15 (planning, drafting, revising, revising, revising), you should expect to show me very preliminary drafts and discuss your paper plan long before you begin to write the paper. The final grade will be determined thus:

1. Bibliographic essay (10%)
2. Oral report (15%)
3. Informed discussion (15%)
4. Final paper (55%) (15% for the quality of the first draft, 40% for the quality of the revised draft)
5. Optional comprehensive final exam (10%). Mutatis mutandis, the final exam will look very much like the comprehensive exam attached to this syllabus. If you do not take the exam, you may allocate the 10% however you wish.

For the major paper(s), 'A' work will be as good as many of the articles published in the last ten years or so. (Since 1982, students in every previous section of this course have published their seminar papers in very fine journals.) With another two revisions (or three), your work may be publishable. I regard 'B' work as carefully researched and clearly presented though it needs considerable revision before it could be submitted for publication.

Even Homer nods. Work that never really establishes its major point or does not adequately support its central argument will receive no better than a 'C.'

Tentative Schedule
Week 1:
Background; introductions; house-keeping; information technology; Email. Assignment of topics for bibliographical essays. Confusion, exultation.

Week 2:
Behn, Oronooko; Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress. Discussion of possible paper topic(s); Learn to use the ESTC and RLIN; Netscape.

Week 3:
Defoe, Rohinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders.
Paper proposal(s) due

Week 4:

Learning to use the OED and other electronic tools (Pattee Library) Richardson, Pamela

Week 5:
Fielding, Joseph Andrews

Week 6:
Fielding, Tom Jones

Week 7:
Watts The Rise of the Novel

Week 8:
Sterne, Tristram Shandy

Week 9:
Mackenzic, Man of Feeling; Goldsmith, Vicar of Wakefield

Week 10:
Smollett, Humphry Clinker

Week 11:
Burney, Evelina
First draft of major paper due

Week 12:
Walpole, Castle of Otranto; Beckford, Vathek; Austen, Northanger Abbey

Week 13:
Scott, Old Mortality

Week 14:
Mckeon, The Origins of the English Novel

Week 15:
Paper due; discussion of Final Exam. Completion of final exam outside of class.

Bibliographical Essay: The Interpretive Community
For your bibliographical essay on any of the authors we'll read in English 556, I ask you to survey at least a dozen articles and all MAJOR books -- not theses or dissertations -- printed between 1985 and 1998. Minor authors, particular critical problems, or even genres are possible if you can make a convincing case to do so; include research in languages other than English if you can read those languages. Feel free to use the serial bibliographies mentioned in the general bibliography, but since none of them includes works from the last few years, you will have to investigate the journals themselves for your primary data. Do not overlook specialized indexes either, and you will want to consider some articles that call themselves 'reviews' or 'review articles.' Eletronic resources (e.g., Web sites, listserves) are required, too.

For your annotations, identify the major point(s) of the scholarship or criticism -- at the very least and the kind of critical discourse it represents. Is the primary function of the work (1) to provide support for an established position, (2) to provide evidence against established positions, (3) to provide both evidence and an argument for a new position? In other words what kind of contribution is this study trying to make? How does it CHANGE (or propose to CHANGE) the state of the field? If the work is biographical or bibliographical, you will have to establish another taxonomy.

Please use the MLA format and organize your bibliography in any way that seems useful to you. A chronological listing is perfectly plausible, but it is by no means the only--or best--way to organize knowledge.

Having identified and annotated these studies take a deep breath, step back ten feet, and write your essay. Describe what 'XXX studies' are about in 1995. What are the major critical disputes? the dominant assumptions? the rival orthodoxies or schools? What major questions animate the critics, scholars, and historians who are writing about XXX? Whose fortunes are rising? whose are falling? Second what are the methodological strategies used in these studies? What kinds of criticism are being practiced? To what extent are new critical assumptions, vocabulary, and tactics affecting the criticism of XXX? What are the dominant modes or the threatened modes of critical discourse?

What is the value of this for you? It will be useful for you to know the 'audience' for your research in this course. You will know your professional audience best by seeing what kind of discourse it produces and how it assesses, responds to, incorporates, or rejects the discourse by which it is itself constituted.

Second, you will become quite informed about topics or areas of research that will likely lead to publishable work for you: after all, you may be doing original research in this course, and the audience for your research will expect that you have been listening to the professional conversation by which the community defines its aims and accomplishments.

Third, by the time we have surveyed the 'interpretive community' for 18th-century studies, you will have a good sense of the dynamics of research and publication in the mid 1990s. The bibliographic essays that you produce will be available to all members of the class, and you will find them useful in your own research and in preparation for the final exam.

Since the first step will be to identify the topic and boundaries of your essay, we need to know by the next class what your first choice is. (It is quite feasible, for instance, for more than one person to work on Fielding or Defoe.) By next week, I expect a reasonably complete list of works that you plan to discuss. Note: I don't expect that you will have read all of the materials yet!