19th-Century British Fiction

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Dr. Carrie Sickmann Han
E-mail: Canvas (preferred) or csickman@iupui.edu
Office hours: CA 501Q Tuesdays and Thursday 3-4:30pm
Office phone: (317) 274-0088     (call any time; I can check voicemail from home)

You may message me at any time with your questions, correspondence and concerns. While I may not respond immediately, you can generally expect me to respond to an e-mail within 24 hours (and usually before). I will answer messages sent during evenings or weekends on the next weekday, if not sooner. I am available to talk with you in person, or on the phone as necessary. Please send me a message to schedule an appointment.

This syllabus is the basis for the contract between me, the professor, and you, the students in this class. You are responsible for all information about course policies contained within this syllabus.

I strongly suggest you read hard copies of our course texts. Please purchase or obtain the following texts, available new or used at IUPUI Bookstore, online retailers or libraries. Most of the novels are also available as free e-texts (kindle, pdf, and html). Other editions are fine, but be sure to obtain the unabridged version of each text. I strongly suggest that you use hard copies. If you choose digital versions, please make sure that you will be able to access it in class on a device other than your cell phone. All of the books are available in hard copy at the IUPUI Bookstore, online retailers, or libraries, with one exception. We will be reading Great Expectations, though you won’t have seen it on the bookstore’s list. That’s because I would like us to read it in its original serial format. It’s available in that format for free online, and I imagine most people will choose to read it that way. However, there’s also a really cool edition that’s available on Amazon and through Cambridge Univ. Press. Unfortunately, it’s out of print and kind of expensive ($23-$30), but I want to point it out to those who might be interested in owning a physical copy (linked above). The other books include:

  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813). Penguin Publishing Group (2002)
  • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (1847). Penguin Publishing Group (2006)
  • Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (1854). Oxford Univ. Press (2008)
  • R.L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). Broadview Press (2015)
  • Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). Penguin Publishing Group (2003)

*Other readings (like the Sherlock stories) will be made available on Canvas.*

Overview and Goals
In this course, we will read some of the most significant—and enjoyable—fiction of the nineteenth century to better understand its historical, cultural, and formal significance, as well as its enduring popular appeal. Works like Pride and Prejudice and the Sherlock Holmes tales continue to capture the public imagination because they raise questions about ethics, gender, psychology, sexuality, and religion that remain relevant today. We will study the original texts—while sometimes comparing them to their recent adaptations—to see how literary devices used by these authors continue to bear on our own understanding of our lives and world.

Nineteenth-century publishing practices and narrative forms also continue to influence the way we read and watch fiction—Victorians were the original binge-readers. We will investigate the technical means by which the novelists achieved their effects, focusing on different genres, formats, and narrative structures. We will read Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations in its original form—a novel released in weekly serial installments—over the course of the entire semester to immerse ourselves in the nineteenth-century reading experience. In addition to the ones listed above, other texts will include Jane Eyre, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, North and South, and The Picture of Dorian Gray.


  • To become familiar with a range of nineteenth-century literary genres and forms
  • To understand the historical development of the novel
  • To study nineteenth-century culture and its influences on the present day
  • To explore the impact of material and narrative forms on the content of British fiction
  • To apply techniques of literary analysis to nineteenth-century British fiction
  • To improve critical thinking skills

English L348 and the Principles of Undergraduate Learning
As you continue your academic career, it is important to understand how your learning in various courses helps you make progress toward your professional and personal goals.  IUPUI has developed a set of expectations for the undergraduate educational experience, defining the higher-order abilities and skills that all our undergraduates are expected to master. These expectations are called the Principles of Undergraduate Learning (PULs). To a certain extent, our L348 curriculum supports all of the PULs. However, the principles related to Critical Thinking are especially relevant to L348.
Critical Thinking is defined as the ability of students to “engage in a process of disciplined thinking that informs beliefs and actions. A student who demonstrates critical thinking applies the process of disciplined thinking by remaining open-minded, reconsidering previous beliefs and actions, and adjusting his or her thinking, beliefs and actions based on new information.”
Because effective interpretation and writing depend upon effective thinking, your critical thinking skills will be enhanced through this course. For example, you will develop the ability “to apply, analyze, evaluate, and create knowledge; to discern bias, challenge assumptions, identify consequences, arrive at reasoned conclusions, generate and explore new questions, solve challenging and complex problems, and make informed decisions.” (http://www.iport.iupui.edu/selfstudy/tl/puls/). These critical thinking skills are evidenced in the writing you produce in L348. Overall, you will gain abilities this semester in L348 that you will use throughout your college career and take with you into the workplace.

Course Policies

Class Participation and Attendance:
Regardless of the reasons for your absences, the first one will be excused, and every absence thereafter will not be excused. Moreover, your final course grade will suffer if you miss class. In any event, you are responsible for any work that you miss, and missing class is no excuse for not turning in an assignment. Classroom discussion will be a major component of this course. Much of the intellectual work for the class will occur through active and lively debates with your peers. I expect everyone to participate in classroom discussion, which means that everyone must arrive to class prepared, with the reading completed and necessary materials in hand. Because participation is such an integral component of this course, it will also affect your overall grade. Extraordinary participation—regularly leading class discussion, responding to difficult questions, conducting independent research, and posing original and thoughtful queries—will raise your final by 1/3 of a letter grade (B to B+). Satisfactory participation—engaging in class discussion, responding to the texts, answering questions, and raising conceptual issues—will not change your grade. Unsatisfactory participation—rarely speaking in class, not being able to answer questions, arriving unprepared, and not contributing to group work—will lower your final grade by 1/3 of a letter grade (B to B-).

In order to preserve a classroom community that fosters productivity and respectfulness toward students and instructor alike, please keep in mind:

  • Cell phones should be turned off during class. This means no cell phone use, including texting, instagramming (is that a word?), Facebooking, etc. during class will be tolerated. Any cell phone used during class will be surrendered to the instructor and will result in an absence for that day.
  • Other tech in class: You may need to use computers or tablets to take notes or access your readings if you’re using digital copies. Please let me know if that is your intent, and be prepared for me to audit your computer use at any time. Surfing the web, doing work for other classes or Facebooking during class time will result in a loss of tech privileges for the remainder of semester (and you will need to obtain hard copies of our texts).

Administrative Withdrawal:
A basic requirement of this course is that you will participate in all class meetings and conscientiously complete all required course activities and/or assignments. Keep in touch with me if you are unable to attend, participate, or complete an assignment on time. If you miss more than half of the required activities within the first 25% of the course without contacting me, you may be administratively withdrawn from this course. Our class meets twice per week; thus, if you miss more than four classes in the first four weeks, you may be withdrawn. Administrative withdrawal may have academic, financial, and financial aid implications. Administrative withdrawal will take place after the full refund period, and if you are administratively withdrawn from the course you will not be eligible for a tuition refund. If you have questions about the administrative withdrawal policy, please contact me.

All assignments are due at the beginning of class on their due dates unless otherwise noted. Late penalties are detailed in the assignments. If you need to request an extension on a paper, please contact me before the assignment is due. You may not make up missed quizzes. You may avoid penalties for late papers or absences by providing a note from the Dean verifying a medical or family emergency.

Communicating with Your Instructor:
I will be happy (giddy even) to meet with you individually at any time during the semester to discuss your progress and any specific concerns you may have; feel free to visit me any time during my office hours or schedule an appointment for another time. One of the best parts of my job is talking with you one-on-one about your interests and questions. You may also e-mail me through Canvas with questions or concerns.

Academic Integrity:
The purpose of this course is to help you learn to formulate and express your own ideas; it therefore goes without saying that all work you turn in should be your own. We will discuss the correct ways in which you may incorporate other people’s ideas into your writing. However, knowingly passing off someone else’s words as your own is a violation of Indiana University’s Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct. Depending on the nature of the offense, the penalty for plagiarism may include receiving an F on a paper, failing this course and being referred to the Dean, or being expelled from the university. Read more here: http://dsa.indiana.edu/Code/NoFrames.html

The University Writing Center:
For additional help with your work in this or any other course, I strongly encourage you to visit the Writing Center, an outstanding free resource provided by the University. Students who work with tutors over the course of the semester normally see dramatic improvements in their writing, and a tutor can help you at any stage of progress, from brainstorming to final revisions. The Writing Center has two locations: Cavanaugh 427 (274-2049) and the University Library (278-8171) and also offers online tutorials. Appointments are recommended. Go to http://liberalarts.iupui.edu/uwc/

Adaptive Educational Needs:
Please let me know if you have special needs that relate to your ability to perform satisfactorily in this course. In addition, it is important that you register with Adaptive Educational Services, which works with eligible students to request both special consideration and special accommodations in courses. You can reach AES at 274-3241 or AES@iupui.edu. In addition, there are a number of campus-wide policies governing the conduct of courses at IUPUI. Read more:  http://registrar.iupui.edu/course_policies.html

Assignments and Grading

There are 5 main types of assignments for this course:

I.    Great Expectations Forum Entries
We will read Great Expectations serially over the course of the semester—one installment will be assigned to every regular class period (more or less). We will devote a short segment of class to GE each week, but much of our discussion about the individual installments will occur through Canvas forum posts. There are 22 class periods in which we will be reading GE, and you will be required to complete 15 forum posts and 10 responses to classmates’ posts. To receive credit all entries must be posted no later than 10pm the night before the reading is scheduled for class (i.e. Wed. at 10pm for Thurs.’s class). You will receive a score out of 5 points for each entry. Forum entries will not receive written feedback, but I will read them closely and will be happy to discuss your work in office hours.

Forum Posts (minimum of 250 words): The posts should be a record of your thoughts about the installment and its significance. What major themes or concepts does it engage? How does the form of the installment affect the reading experience (are there cliffhangers, shifts in perspective, unanswered questions)? Think about what questions the installment might raise, and how those questions could influence readers’ understanding of the characters or plot. I will sometimes provide prompts to stimulate discussion.  While a wide range of forum posts are acceptable, your post must demonstrate analytical thinking and reading to receive credit. Summary is not an option.

Responses (minimum of 150 words): In addition to creating your own posts, you will also respond to classmates’ posts. Read through several of your classmates’ posts (don’t just pick the first one). After choosing, you can respond in one of several ways: you could disagree with their claim, complicate an issue they raise, respond to a question they pose, or expand on one of their ideas. You may NOT simply agree with or restate their ideas. The post must contribute something new to the discussion.

II.   2 Response Papers (2 double spaced pages)
Over the course of the semester I will provide you with two different small assignments, each of which will ask you to produce analytical writing. You may be asked to close-read a segment of our text, or answer a conceptual question. Each response should have a clear thesis that is then explored and explained through analysis of specific evidence.  One of the most difficult things in writing is honing your ideas down to their most essential elements, and these assignments will give you the opportunity to practice that skill while also trying out the kind of analysis necessary for successful longer papers.

III.    2 Formal Papers
Formal papers ask you to explore a particular idea more thoroughly than you can in a response.  I will be posing topics for your formal papers, but you will have a great deal of choice in how you respond to these topics and how you structure your arguments.

IV.   Exams
The midterm and final exams will consist of identifications, short answer, and an essay question.  Exams are excellent practice for writing within time constraints.  The final exam for this course is scheduled for Tuesday, December 15th from 1pm-3pm.

Format and Citation
All close readings and papers must be typed in 12pt Times New Roman font, be double-spaced, and have 1in. margins.  Number your pages and be sure to staple them together before handing in your work. The first page should include in the upper-left corner a single-spaced heading with your name, the course number and assignment, my name, and the date.

Canvas Paper Submissions
All assignments will be accepted via Canvas’s Assignment function. They will also be processed through Turnitin, to check for plagiarism and citation issues. Likewise, all graded assignments with comments will be sent to your Canvas file.  NB: you must upload assignments by 1:30pm the day they are due.

Grade Break Down

Forum Entries (5 pts each) (12.5%) 125 pts
Quizzes and In-Class Writing (7.5%) 75 pts
2 Response Papers (50 pts each) (10%) 100 pts
Paper 1 (15%) 150 pts
Paper 2 (20%) 200 pts
Midterm Exam (15%) 150 pts
Final Exam (20%) 200 pts
Total 1,000 pts

 Course Schedule

Tues. 8/25           Introductions
Thurs. 8/27         Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

Tues. 9/1             Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Thurs. 9/3            Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Tues. 9/8             Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Thurs. 9/10         Dickens, Great Expectations (1860-61) (no. 84-88)

Response 1 Due

Tues. 9/15           Bronte, Jane Eyre (1847)
                           Dickens, GE (no. 89)
Thurs. 9/17         Bronte, Jane Eyre
                           Dickens, GE (no. 90)

Tues. 9/22           Bronte, Jane Eyre
                            Dickens, GE (no. 90)
Thurs. 9/24         Bronte, Jane Eyre
                            Dickens, GE (no. 91)

Tues. 9/29           Bronte, Jane Eyre
                            Dickens, GE (no. 92)
Thurs. 10/1         Dickens, GE (no. 93)

Paper 1 Due

Tues. 10/6           Gaskell, North and South (1854)
                           Dickens, GE (no. 94)
Thurs. 10/8         Gaskell, North and South
                            Dickens, GE (no.95)

Tues. 10/13         Gaskell, North and South
                             Dickens, GE (no. 96)
Thurs. 10/15       Gaskell, North and South
                            Dickens, GE (no. 97)

Tues. 10/20         Fall Break (no class)
Thurs. 10/22       Gaskell, North and South
                            Dickens, GE (no. 98)

Tues. 10/27         Midterm Exam
Thurs. 10/29       Dickens, GE (no. 99-106)

Tues. 11/3          Stevenson, Jekyll and Hyde (1886)
                           Dickens, GE (no. 107)
Thurs. 11/5         Stevenson, Jekyll and Hyde
                           Dickens, GE (108)
                           Darwin, excerpt from The Expression of the Emotions in Man and                                        Animals
                           Ferrero, excerpt from Criminal Man According to the Classification of                                    Cesare Lombroso

Tues. 11/10         Jack the Ripper Casebook [selections]
                           Appendix J: “Jack the Ripper” in Jekyll and Hyde
                            Dickens, GE (no. 109)
Thurs. 11/12       Wilde, Dorian Gray (1890)
                           Dickens, GE (no. 110)

                                Response 2 Due

Tues. 11/17         Wilde, Dorian Gray
                            Dickens, GE (no. 111)
Thurs. 11/19       Wilde, Dorian Gray
                            Dickens, GE (no. 112)

Tues. 11/24         Selections from “The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde” (1895) 
                             Dickens, GE (no. 113)
Thurs. 11/26       Thanksgiving, No Class

Tues. 12/1           Doyle, Adventures and Return of Sherlock Holmes (selections)

Paper 2 Due

Thurs. 12/3         Doyle, Adventures and Return of Sherlock Holmes (selections)
                           Dickens, GE (no. 114)

Tues. 12/8           Dickens, GE (no. 115-119)
Thurs. 12/10        Last Day Wrap Up

Final Exam