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Office: E & T A608
Office Hours: W 4:30-6pm and by appt
Phone: (323) 343-4163
English 501 or 502 as prerequisite or co-requisite.
In the “Preface” added
to the 1800 edition of Lyrical
Ballads, the poet William Wordsworth justified his seemingly simple
and decidedly rural poetry by pointing to the shifts occurring in
British society at the turn of the nineteenth century, shifts that we
have now come to call mechanization, industrialization, capitalism, and
urbanization. According to Wordsworth,
a multitude of causes, unknown to former times, are now acting with a
combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and
unfitting it for all voluntary exertion to reduce it to a state of
almost savage torpor. The most effective of these causes are the great
national events which are daily taking place, and the encreasing
accumulation of men in cities, where the uniformity of their occupations
produces a craving for extraordinary incident, which the rapid
communication of intelligence hourly gratifies.
Aristotle posited as self-evident that people come to the city to live
but stay in the city to live the good life, the city as exemplar of
civilization came under suspicion when civilization itself came under
suspicion in nineteenth century Britain. The city in all of its
vastness, strangeness, danger, beauty, and glory takes its modern shape
in the nineteenth century, and Wordsworth was not alone in criticizing
these developments and his concern that the overstimulation of the city
has and will degrade human life should not be dismissed as pastoral
nostalgia. Many modern environmental critics (or “ecocritics” as
they are sometimes called) repeat Wordsworth’s assertion uncritically,
maintaining a sharp distinction between the “natural” environment
and the urban environment, and making claims such as this one by Neil
Evernden: “The environmental repertoire is vastly diminished in urban
life, perhaps to the point of making genuine attachment to place very
century writers confronted the huge social and cultural shifts with more
than nostalgia. In this course we will study the historical foundations
of Britain’s rapid and for some nearly catastrophic industrialization
and urbanization through poetry, novels, and contemporary reportage and
criticism. We will look at the beginnings of industrialization through
George Eliot’s historical novel Silas
Marner, and then study the “condition of England” question
through the emergence of the northern industrial city as described by
Thomas Carlyle and Friedrich Engels and fictionalized by Elizabeth
Gaskell. Second, we will turn to London and consider some of its many
representations focusing specifically on novels by Charles Dickens and
Oscar Wilde. We will conclude with a trip across the pond and some
transatlantic connections between Britain and America at the end of the
nineteenth century through an examination of Frank Norris’ The
Pit, A Story of Chicago.
that over the last eight weeks of the term we will be reading five
novels, three of which weigh in at about 400 pages and one of which
exceeds 1,000 pages.
Charles. Bleak House. New
York: Penguin, 2003. (0141439726)
George. Silas Marner. New
York: Dover Publishing, 1996. (978-0486292465)
Friedrich. The Condition of the
Working Class in England. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. (978-0199555888)
Elizabeth. Mary Barton.
Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. (978-0199538355)
Frank. The Pit: A Story of Chicago.
New York: Penguin, 1994 (978-0140187588)
Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008 (978-0199535989)
Other texts will be made available online on the
course web site (http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/jgarret/510city/)
sometime prior to the start of the Fall term. Once the website is
available, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to acquire the password
necessary to access restricted materials.
Requirements: Listed below are the requirements for this course.
Please note that students must complete all assignments to pass this
Presentation (10% of your grade): A seminar presentation is a 15-20
minute (or beyond) presentation to the rest of the class about an
assigned reading. For the presentation, plan to go beyond regular class
preparation, at the very least, providing background about your topic, a
generous overview, and a discussion of its relation to other readings
for that week (or read earlier). You should also be prepared to answer
questions and help lead class discussion for that topic. You should
prepare a handout for the class; however, do not simply read from your
prepared handout or paper.
Responses (20% of your grade): Each response is a 500 word posting
that responds to one or more of the readings assigned for the week. You
must complete seven weekly responses. Responses will be submitted online
using a blog located at
Responses must be posted
by 6pm on the Tuesday preceding the assigned readings.
Two Papers (each
25% of your grade for a total of 50%): Each paper is a 7-10 page
paper on a topic of your own choice. An effective paper will engage some
of the current scholarship and offer an original argument or
A Final Exam (20%
of your grade): The final exam will be modeled on Part 1 of the MA
Comprehensive Exam. The exam will consist of a single essay question
focused on a key issue explored during the seminar.
Policy: Course grades are based on standard percentages (i.e.
90% and greater is some version of an A, 80%-89% is some version of a B
and so on). Plus and minus grades are used in the class.
Phones and Other Electronic Devices: Please turn off all cell
phones, pagers, portable radios, televisions, computers,
MP3/CD/Disc/Mini-disc players, and any other electronic communication
and/or entertainment devices before coming to class.
the Instructor: Email is the most effective way of contacting
Be there or miss out on the fun. Please read the assigned texts before
class. If you are absent, you are responsible for getting the assignment
from a classmate.
Assignments: Please note the following carefully when preparing
your written assignments for this class:
Written assignments must be typed following standard
formatting practices for college writing—use a readable type style (12
point type), indent paragraphs, double space between lines, and use one
inch margins. Any style guide will contain information on formatting
your written assignments for submission.
Edit and proofread your work carefully before handing in
Do not use plastic covers or report folders or title pages
on your written assignments. Each assignment, though, should have your
name, the course number, the date, and my name on separate lines
(double-spaced) in the upper left corner of the first page. If the paper
has a title, center it on the first page, after the above information.
Use page numbers and place them in the upper right corner
of the page. If you are uncertain how to have word processing software
generate the correct page number in the header of your document, ask
someone in one of the labs.
MLA format and style conventions should be followed for
all written assignments (essays and responses). For more information on
MLA format and style conventions, see The MLA Handbook for Writers of
Research Papers, the appropriate section of a recent (published
after 2000) writer’s handbook, or one of the many reputable online
Late papers are not accepted. The assignment due dates are
distributed on the first day of class, and the assignments are made
available often weeks before they are due.
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.
You must carefully observe the standard rules for
acknowledging the sources of words and ideas. If you make use of a
phrase or a quote or if you paraphrase another writer’s words or
ideas, you must acknowledge the source of these words or ideas telling
us the source of these materials. APA and MLA style differ on the exact
format of this attribution, but the simple version is the name of the
author and the page number (if appropriate) in parentheses at the end of
the sentence containing the use of the source material. If you fail to
acknowledge properly the source of your text, you will receive a zero on
the assignment and be reported to the Student Disciplinary Officer.
If you plagiarize or otherwise misrepresent the source of
your work, you will receive a zero on the assignment and be reported to
the Student Disciplinary Officer.