Preliminary Information for English 3020-005

British Literature 1700-1918

Fall 2015

Dr. Casal

This is a web-assisted class requiring access to D2L.


In this class we will examine representative works of British literature from the beginning of the eighteenth century through the first two decades of the twentieth century with the goal of expanding your ability to read and think critically.

Building on what you have learned in English 3000 and other courses, we will situate our discussions in a cultural and historical perspective as we address questions of literary tradition, interpretation and analysis.   Authors that we will be reading include Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Frances Burney, Jane Austen, the Romantic poets, Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Oscar Wilde and the World War I British poets, to name only a few.   We will consider the voice(s) of each author and how individual works reflect important human concerns.  We will look at the form as well as the content of works, and enjoy discussing what appeals or doesn't appeal to us as we develop our knowledge and understanding of this very long and important period of British literature.

The course is more than a survey course, but it does have an important survey component.  The goal of this course is to give you an overview of the history of British literature from the early part of the eighteenth century to the early part of the twentieth.  It will not be possible to cover every writer and every movement, but by looking at representative writers in each period, we will be able to discuss some of the salient features of each period.  In addition, this class will focus on developing your ability to apply a variety of approaches to the analysis of literary texts.  By the end of this class you will not only have increased familiarity with the authors, genres and periods we cover, but will be a more sophisticated reader who can apply knowledge of literary, critical and cultural contexts to the study of literature.  

We will be using D2L to support and enhance this class. The schedule of assignments, most instructions, and all the online readings will be linked through D2L. Written assignments other than exams and in-class work will be submitted to a D2L dropbox.   We will also have a group discussion in the D2L message board, to complement the  once-a-week class discussions.

Required Texts:

Recommended Texts:

(You are expected to have access to these texts, but usually won't need to bring them to class.)  

What to Expect:


Reading is a very important part of this class. I will expect you to come to class well-prepared to discuss the texts assigned. If you have not practiced close reading before, you will have an opportunity to learn how to do it this semester.  We are reading a novel (and a couple of long short stories) because this is the period where the novel develops as the central literary form of the culture. 

The class will combine lecture with discussion.  I like students to speak up and ask questions or make comments not only in response to what I say but in response to what classmates have to say. 

We will complement class discussion with informal written comments about the readings and/or occasional reports.

The major writing assignments will be two exams and two papers. For each exam, I will expect you to bring large (letter-size) blue examination book. 


This is a web-assisted class. Most students like being able to access material online, but if you have difficulty logging on to D2L, this will probably not be a good class for you. Be prepared to spend some time on D2L each week.  Among other things, there will be required D2L message board participation to supplement class discussion. (This will allow us to end our meetings at 8 PM on some Thursdays.)

The D2L website for the class will be the place to find the updated schedule of assignments (though I will make no major changes in writing deadlines, I make occasional changes in the reading deadlines to respond to the pace of the class). There will also be links to readings that are not in your book, instructions for assignments, links to interesting support material, etc.

You will submit essays and any other written homework to a D2L dropbox. The deadlines for essays are all on Friday nights at midnight. Work that is one day late (Saturday midnight) loses only one point late penalty. The second day is another 2 points, and from the third day onward it is 3 points per day until the following Friday. (This is one of the most lenient late-work policies in the university, but with it come clear expectations for submission into the correct D2L box, following specific instructions of labeling files, etc. Failure to follow submission instructions will carry penalties.) Work more than a week late loses ten points per day.

Tentative Weights for Writing Assignments:

Attendance and Participation:

Attendance is important because class participation is important. I expect students to come to class regularly and be ready to participate in class when they are there. I make allowances for shyness and so forth, but I want people to be "engaged" in the class. (Intelligent nods, headshakes, etc. are all good signs of engagement. Even better, speak up! There are no dumb questions--only dumb silences.) Pay attention to whomever is speaking. Respond not just to what I say but to what your classmates say.   I take a dim view of students who seemed more absorbed in their notes, their laptops, their schedule planners etc. than in the class discussion.

You may NOT use your cell phone for anything (not even looking up words or taking notes) during class. Depending on whether or not you seem to be engaged in class, I may allow the use of e-readers, laptops or tablets for reading and/or note-taking, but whenever I feel that individual media is interfering with class participation, I may request that all be turned off. (We will often view web material together on the big screen.)

I take attendance at the beginning of most classes, usually about 5 minutes into the class.  For once-a-week classes, I take attendance twice, once at the beginning of class and another time after break.  If you arrive after attendance has been taken, please make sure you see me after class.   I am not neurotic about people coming on the dot-on-time, and I don't always take attendance the instant that class begins, but I do notice if you make a havit of being late, and I will note that.

Each student is allowed a maximum of 2 full absences without penalty so long as s/he keeps up with D2L participation.  Extra participation on the D2L discussion page/message board  may substitute for one more absence, giving  three full allowed absences.  Going over these allowed absences and/or not keeping up with the D2L participation will hurt your grade because the main reason for requiring attendance is that I want your participation (or at least engagement).  If you are not there, you are not participating.


Please note that my grading scale is different from some others on campus. My reason for doing this is that I believe it makes more sense to make the "plus" grades go above the cut-off for the grade.  Therefore, I imagine that an A+ (if I could give such a grade) would be from 98-102.   Indeed, since many of my assignments have a built-in 2 or 3 extra credit option, it is possible for students in this class to get a score of over 100. 

In order to accentuate the positive, I do not normally give "minus" grades, but in cases where a student has worked hard and is on the borderline, I may give a B- instead of a C+ or a C- instead of a D+.  (Unfortunately, I am not allowed to give A-) If you do not want to get a "minus" grade under such circumstances, please let me know. 

 93 - 100   A

83 -  87    B

 73 - 77   C

63 - 67  D

 88 -  92    B+

78 - 82     C+

 68 - 72   D+

0 - 62  F

Tentative Weights:

How I Grade:

My attitude towards grades is that they reflect performance on specific assignments, not a student's personality, identity or qualities as a human being. There is no such thing as an "A" student or a "D" student. There are, instead, specific assignments on which a specific student may, fore whatever reason, get an "A" or "B" or whatever.   Some students do better in exams, others on essays, still others on class participation.  I try to offer each student a chance to do well.   (The first essay may be revised.  The lowest quiz/short work grade will drop. One absence may be "made up" through additional D2L work.)

I do not pretend to be an easy grader, especially when it comes to essays. I value originality and sophisticated thinking highly, and I reward work that shows that you have thought about the topic and have made an effort to develop and support an idea that you have worked through carefully.  I tend to be particular about word choice and will often make suggestions for stating ideas more precisely.  I expect students to use standard Academic English in their out-of-class writing., but I grade mechanics/style globally, taking into account the whole work rather than taking points off for each little "mistake."  On exams, I am more tolerant of problems with style, mechanics and so forth so long as the content is on target and all statements are supported.  

I grade participation based on quality as well as quantity of comments, and I count online (D2L) participation along with in class participation.  Engagement with the material and attention to the reading and class (and online discussion) is what I am looking for. 

Special Needs:

If you have a disability or other special need, please plan on getting the paperwork to me before the first assignment that it affects. 

The full syllabus will be posted on D2L.

Questions? E-mail: