English 637

ENGL 637

Catalog Entry

ENG 637. Studies in 19th-Century British Literature
Three hours lecture (3).

Study of selected major figures and important topics of the 19th century, with attention to American and European cross influences. With a different subheading, may be taken twice for credit.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The specific content varies with each offering of the course, depending on the particular topic ("subheading") designated by the instructor. Designated topics focus on significant scholarly issues and concerns relevant to the literature of the nineteenth century. Such topics might include thematic concerns (revolution and Romanticism); generic concerns (the development of the novel: Scott, Austen, Dickens, Hardy); linguistic concerns (Scotts dialect and balladry); cultural, social, political or historical issues, (art and architecture: Constable, Turner, Pater, Ruskin, Morris, industrialization, expansion of the empire, or the role of women); source studies (Tennyson's Arthurian sources); studies of the influence of one author upon another writer or group of writers (Wordsworth and Coleridge, or the Pre-Raphaelites), or other problems of literary history (the 1805 and 1850 texts of THE PRELUDE); a particular critical approach to selected literary works of the period (deconstruction and the Romantic text); an intensive study of a single major work or a selected body of works (Wordsworth's PRELUDE or Browning's dramatic monologues).

Close reading of primary texts assigned in conjunction with the designated topic and extensive reading in relevant secondary texts, including those providing historical, cultural, social and political backgrounds and contexts as well as those providing a variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the literature of the period. Students gain familiarity of the relevant scholarship.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course is conducted as a seminar, directed by a member of the English Department's graduate faculty with expertise in the nineteenth century and whose role is essentially that of consultant. The seminar meets weekly. These meetings are most often conducted by one or more seminar participants who may lead discussion of assigned readings, offering their own interpretations and critical analyses as well as raising questions, concerns and/or problems posed by the readings; engage other seminar participants in debate over controversial issues; report on readings in secondary texts; explore potential topics for further research; share drafts of papers for peer review and response; or make formal presentations of finished papers. While seminar meetings afford students the opportunity to take responsibility for much of their learning and to engage both with their peers and with the instructor in the kind of scholarly discourse characteristic of the discipline, the greatest emphasis is on independent study and research done outside the classroom. In consultation with the instructor students develop an extended research project culminating most commonly in one or more formal scholarly papers developing an original thesis and conforming in style and format to the guidelines of the Modern Language Association. Students are encouraged to submit such papers for publication in professional journals or, if opportunity affords, for presentation at a professional conference.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The primary goals of the course are (1) to provide graduate students with the opportunity for intensive study of particular literary texts, modes and traditions of the nineteenth century; (2) to provide graduate students with the opportunity to engage in the kinds of scholarly research, writing and discourse characteristic of the discipline; (3) to provide graduate students with the opportunity to develop and practice the skills requisite for advanced literary studies in general and for such study of the nineteenth century in particular. For graduate students pursuing the Master of Arts degree with a concentration in later British literature, the course affords the opportunity to investigate topics of special interest, to undertake significant research into such topics, and to compose formal scholarly papers that may become the basis for a thesis. (4) to gain a familiarity with the scholarship that is relevant to the literary texts and to the period.


Assessment Measures

While individual instructors may wish to consider a variety of measures in their final assessment of student achievement in this course (e.g., preparation for and participation during seminar meetings, oral presentations, informal and/or creative writing exercises, quizzes and examinations), the single most important measure is the ability of the student to engage in meaningful independent research, to develop on the basis of that research an original insight into or perspective on a significant question, and to present that insight or perspective in a formal scholarly paper.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

March 1999