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Cal State L.A.


English 446b Syllabus

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Prof. Jim Garrett
Office: E & T A608
Office Hours: MTWTh 10:45-11:30am and by appt.
Phone: (323) 343-4163

Course Description

Catalog Description: The novel in Britain from the late gothic and early realism up to the beginning of modernism studied through representative writers such as Shelley, Dickens, the Brontës, Thackeray, Gaskell, Eliot, Trollope, and Hardy

Prerequisites: Upper division standing is prerequisite to enrollment in 400-level courses.  ENGL 102 or its equivalent is prerequisite to all upper division English courses.  Prerequisite for all literature courses:  ENGL 250, or 200A, 200B or 200C unless otherwise stated.

Description: The novel has been a vibrant form in Britain since the end of the seventeenth century, though it was not until well into the nineteenth century that this immensely popular form was considered "serious" by literary critics. In this course we will use this somewhat arbitrary divide between popular and serious to examine how novelists both respond to the public's taste for the familiar and test the market's acceptance of novelty.

Nineteenth-century novels are strange, thought-provoking, beautiful, entertaining, and at times taxing and exasperating; they are also sometimes very, very, very long. While I have made every effort to give you enough time to read, be forewarned that the amount of reading required for the course is significant and for some possibly overwhelming. In short, you should enroll only if you are prepared to keep up with the reading (an average of 250-400 pages per week) and frequent short writing assignments. Because this is a lecture-discussion class rather than a formal lecture course, active and informed contribution to class discussion is expected from all students.


Upon completion of ENGL 446B, students will be able to

  1. Define the novel (as genre) and explain its development.
  2. Identify the basic characteristics of the form: settings, point of view and narrative technique, plot and narrative structure, characterization, allusions and figurative language.
  3. Identify representative writers and discuss characteristic features of their work, such as theme, characterization, narrative technique, style and so on.
  4. Identify important popular culture forms such as sensational narratives, "true-crime" stories, adventure novels, and boy and girl culture books and discuss their relationship to "high literary" form.
  5. Identify important cultural developments such as industrialism, imperialism, urbanization, scientism, and mass media and trace their effect on the development, popularity, and influence of the novel.

By actively participating in this course, students will

  1. Develop their skills as critical readers—particularly close reading, making connections within a literary work, and generating thought-provoking questions—through active reading and guided class preparation.
  2. Develop their skills at presenting questions and ideas verbally, and at responding to those of others, through seminar-style class discussions.
  3. Develop their skills as critical writers about language and literature through analytical paper assignments, including an opportunity for revision, and essay exams.

The ultimate objective, though, is that each of us will consider the acts of reading and writing as ways of making the world, of making it cohere or come apart, of inscribing it with purpose and meaning.

Course Requirements: Since this class focuses exclusively on the novel, the assigned reading borders on overwhelming. I have attempted to alleviate some of the inherent difficulties of courses on the novel, but if you are not prepared to invest a significant amount of time each week into reading and thinking about novels, then you should probably consider taking a different course. In general you will need to read between 250-400 pages per week to keep up in this class, which translates into 10-20 hours of work outside of class. In short, you will need to be diligent about planning ahead and completing your tasks on time. 

In addition to reading assignments, students will also be responsible for completing other assignments both in class and outside of class. Listed below are the required assignments for this course:

  1. In-class Middlemarch Responses: Think of Tuesdays as Middlemarch Tuesday. Every Tuesday class meeting except the first one will be devoted to lecture, discussion, questions, and suffering through this greatest (in all of its meanings) of English novels. In addition, from 11:40-11:50am nearly every Tuesday, students will write brief responses to a question about the weekly Middlemarch reading assignment. These six Middlemarch in-class responses will be graded CR/NC and account for 10% of the course grade. (No make-up or alternative assignments are available, so please be on time.)
  2. In-class Reading Quizzes: Several Thursday class meetings will begin with a short reading quiz of the novel (or part of the novel) assigned for the week. From 11:40-11:50am nearly every week, students will take a short quiz on the reading assigned for that day. These seven quizzes will each be ten minutes in length and cumulatively account for 15% of the course grade (No make-up or alternative assignments are available, so please be on time.)
  3. Writing Assignments: The writing requirements for the course can be met in the following ways:
    1. Option A (Weekly Reading Responses): Complete four two-page reading responses (see schedule for due dates). Reading responses will be scored using a simple three-point scoring system.
    2. Option B (Argumentative Essays): Complete two short essays (approx. four pages each) that each present an argument about an assigned text. Essays will be scored using a standard essay scoring guide.
    3. Option C (The Combo Burrito): Complete two weekly reading responses and one short argumentative essay.

These writing assignments (options A, B, or C) account for 30% of the course grade.

  1. A short midterm exam (short answer questions and identifications, and one brief essay question) (20% of course grade)
  2. A final exam (short answer questions and identifications, and one or two essay questions) (25% of course grade)

In order to pass this course all assignments (papers and exams) must be legitimately attempted.  Plagiarism (see description below) does not constitute a legitimate attempt of the assignment.


Textbooks: All of the novels we will be reading in this class are available in many different editions. I have ordered the following tests for this class and I recommend that you acquire these editions, if possible, as it will facilitate our class discussions.

Austen, Jane. Persuasion. New York: Penguin, 2004. (978-0141439686)

Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. New York: Oxford (reissued 1998) (978-0199536276)

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Sign of Four. Dover (ISBN 978-0486431666)

Eliot, George. Middlemarch. New York: Penguin. (ISBN 978-0141439549)

Hardy, Thomas. Jude the Obscure. Oxford : Oxford , 2009. (ISBN 978-0199537020)

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. New York: Penguin (rev. ed. 2003). (ISBN 978-0141439730)

Wells, H. G. The Time Machine/The War of the Worlds. New York: Fawcett (ISBN 978-0449300435)


ADA Accommodation: Reasonable accommodation will be provided to any student who is registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities and requests needed accommodation.

Grading Policy: The distribution of points for the individual assignments in this course is listed in “Requirements” above. Course grades are based on standard percentages (i.e. A = 90%-100%, B = 80%-89% and so on). Plus and minus grades are used in the class.

Electronic Devices: Please be respectful of the classroom experience of others. Every quarter I receive earnest complaints from students about the distracting behavior of other students using electronic devices. Unless the use of such devices is approved by the Office of Students with Disabilities, please do not use electronic devices during class.

Contacting Me: I am available in my office during my posted office hours and, schedule allowing, by appointment. Email is also an effective way of contacting me.

Attendance: A considerable part of the course grade is based on in-class work, so being absent or arriving late to class has very clear consequences. It’s pretty annoying too, by the way.

Classroom Preparation: Please read the assigned texts before class. If you are absent, you are responsible for getting any weekly assignments from me or from a classmate.

Written Assignments: Please note the following carefully when preparing your written assignments for this class:

Academic Dishonesty/Cheating: Collaborating with others is encouraged when you are planning your papers, reviewing each other’s work, preparing for presentations or for exams. Study or reading groups can be effective ways to study and learn. However, when you write your papers, the text needs to be your own.

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Last Update: 01/12/2016