ENGL 212 A: Literature, 1700-1900

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 10:30am - 11:20am
SMI 405
Nicole Peters

Syllabus Description:

18th- and 19th Century Bookworms: Dangerous Novels and Dreadful Readers

Class Time: MTWTH 10:30-11:20

Location: SMI 405

Instructor Contact Information:

Name: Nicole Peters

Email: petersnc@uw.edu

Office Hours: T/W 11:30--12:30

Office Location: Padelford B5N

Course Description


“As for being poisoned by a book, there is no such thing as that. Art has no influence upon action. It annihilates the desire to act. It is superbly sterile. The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” --Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray


The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are well known for the novel’s “rise” as a genre and commodity. At the same time, there was a growing fascination and awareness of the moral or pedagogical implications of reading. During this quarter we will begin by reading eighteenth-century texts that demonstrate or satirize (im)proper ways of reading in order to develop a better understanding of eighteenth- and nineteenth- century literary tastes. Then, we will move into the nineteenth century’s growing market for “dangerous” fiction--from penny dreadfuls to the sensation novel. In doing so, we will pay particular attention to how these texts challenge genre boundaries, engage the reader, and offer provocative insights and critiques about gender, class, sexuality, literary value, and materiality. While reading about reading in the Victorian period, we will also think about contemporary fascinations with nineteenth-century characters and adaptations In other words, we will think about how and why we engage with Victorian literature today in both academic and popular contexts.


This course fills the University of Washington’s “W” Writing Credit. Your writing will include weekly discussion posts, in-class free writes, and two papers

Course Goals

  1. Students possess critical reading skills that include the ability to close-read and to analyze literary texts within their particular social, historical and cultural contexts
  2. Students can begin to articulate the value of discussing and interrogating literature and popular culture.
  3. Students are able to form complex, analytical claims supported with textual evidence in writing about literature and culture

Required Texts


Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

Lady Audley’s Secret, Mary Elizabeth Braddon

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde (uncensored)

**you will also need to print out pdfs I provide on canvas




Participation: 25

Midterm Paper 25

Final Paper 30

Discussion/Blog Posts 20


Please note that this class requires a heavy reading load and meets four days a week at 9:30 am. Your participation during every single class period is essential to your success in this course. If you fall behind in the reading, please come talk to me as soon as possible—do not miss class. Participation scores will be evaluated by your ability to be engaged during every class which means:


  • showing up on time and prepared everyday
  • listening actively to classmates
  • speaking up during discussions
  • participating in group work and peer revision
  • completing the required reading--carefully--and passing reading quizzes.



Tentative Reading and Blog Schedule:



Blog/Paper Schedule

Week 1

Tues 1/3

Class Cancelled

Read over syllabus and come prepared to discuss/ask questions

Weds 1/4

Syllabus Day

Thurs 1/5

“False Morality of Lady Novelists” National Review

Week 2

Mon 1/9

The Female Quixote Book 1, ch 1-8 (approx 25 pgs)

First Readers (Group 1)

Tues 1/10

The Female Quixote ch 9--end of Book 1 (approx 25 pgs)

Second Responders (Group 2)

Weds 1/11

The Female Quixote Book 2 ch 1-8; Book 9 ch 7 (approx 35 pgs);

Synthesizers (Group 3)

Thurs 1/12

JS Mill “What is Poetry”

Week 3

Mon 1/16

No Class!!

Tues 1/17

Northanger Abbey ch 1-8 (approx 45 pgs)

First Readers (Group 3)

Weds 1/18

Northanger Abbey ch 9-12 (approx 35 pgs)

Second Responders (Group 1)

Thurs 1/19

Northanger Abbey ch 13-16 (approx 35 pgs)

Third Synthesizers (Group 2)

Week 4

Mon 1/23

Northanger Abbey ch 17-23 (approx 45 pgs)

First Readers (Group 2)

Tues 1/24

Northanger Abbey ch 24-27 (approx 25 pgs)

Second Responders (Group 3)

Weds 1/25

Northanger Abbey ch 28-end (approx 30 pgs)

**Movie Screening**

Third Synthesizers (Group 1)

Thurs 1/26

Northanger Abbey 2007 film

Week 5

Mon 1/30

Varney the Vampire Selections

All Groups: Midterm proposal paragraph due by 11:59 PM

Tues 1/31

Mysteries of London

All Groups: feedback on two peer proposals (150 words each) by 11:59 pm

Weds 2/1

The String of Pearls

Thurs 2/2

Wagner the Wehr-Wolf

Week 6

Mon 2/6


Paper due in class and on canvas

Tues 2/7

Lady Audley’s Secret Volume 1 ch 1-6 (approx 40 pgs)

First Readers (Group 1)

Weds 2/8

Lady Audley’s Secret ch 7-13 (approx 45 pgs)

Second Responders (Group 2)

Thurs 2/9

Lady Audley’s Secret ch 14--end of volume 1 (approx 40 pgs)

Third Synthesizers (Group 3)

Week 7

Mon 2/13

Lady Audley’s Secret Volume 2 ch 1-5 (approx 40 pgs)

First Readers (Group 3)

Tues 2/14

Lady Audley’s Secret ch 6-9 (approx 40 pgs)

Second Responders (Group 1)

Weds 2/15

Lady Audley’s Secret ch 10-end of volume 2 (approx 40 pgs)

Third Synthesizers (Group 2)

Thurs 2/16

Lady Audley’s Secret ch Volume 3 ch 1-3 (approx 40 pgs)

Week 8

Mon 2/20

No Class!!

Tues 2/21

Lady Audley’s Secret ch 4-6 (approx 30 pgs)

First Readers (Group 2)

Weds 2/22

Lady Audley’s Secret ch 7-end (approx 45 pgs)

Second Responders (Group 3)

Thurs 2/23

Dorian Gray ch 1-3 (approx 40 pgs)

Third Synthesizers (Group 1)

Week 9

Mon 2/27

Dorian Gray ch 4-6 (approx 30 pgs)

First Readers (Group 1)

Tues 2/28

Dorian Gray ch 7-9 (approx 40 pgs)

Second Responders (Group 2)

Weds 3/1

Dorian Gray ch 10-13 (approx 40 pgs)

Third Synthesizers (Group 3)

Thurs 3/2

“Histories of the Present,” Sadoff and Kucich

All Groups: 1 paragraph paper proposal by 11:59 pm

Week 10

Mon 3/6

Penny Dreadful episodes TBD

All Groups: feedback on two peer proposals (150 words each) by 11:59 pm

Tues 3/7


Weds 3/8


Thurs 3/9

Final (in class)

Finals Week

Final Paper Due: Monday 3/12 by 11:59 pm

**Please note: This schedule is tentative and will likely be shifted and changed in order to meet class/student needs. I reserve the right to add/delete assignments and readings as I see fit.


Weekly Blogging Prompt

Our course blog is an extension of our in-class learning community. It’s a place where you can track your reading process and work through thoughts, reactions, and questions in informal, low-stakes writing. Your blog posts should be coherent and proofread, but you don’t need to have a fully formed thesis. In fact, you may find that you raise more questions than you answer in your weekly writing (and that’s great!). You’ll also find that your classmates’ ideas and interpretations can serve as catalysts for your own analysis later in our formal writing assignments. In addition to the assigned reading for each class period, you should also keep up with the blog and come to class prepared to incorporate some of the blog material into our in-class discussions. You do not need to read every single comment, but rather skim most, and read several posts that interest you more closely. Our class will be divided into three different teams. Each post, whether you’re a first reader or respondent, should be 300 words minimum and quote directly from the text. Each week, you need only fulfill one role on the blog:


First Readers: post initial reactions and insights that lead into at least one discussion question by the start of class Monday. Quote from the text at least once.

Second Responders: build upon, challenge, or clarify first readers’ posts by the start of class Tuesday. Quote directly from a classmate’s post, and point to at least one specific passage from that day’s reading.

Third Synthesizers: no writing on the blog required, but you should read several of your classmates’ posts (3-4) that interest you. You are reading more closely to make connections and raise new questions. Take notes and be prepared to contribute to class discussion.


I understand that in college, life happens and midterms/workloads can catch up to you. Therefore, during the quarter you may choose to skip your role as First Reader or Second Responder ONE TIME. Just post a comment on that week’s blog stating that you are using up your freebie.


Rubric for Blog Posts


Excellent--The post is focused and coherently integrates examples with explanations and analysis. The post asks a thoughtful and complex question about the text and reflects in-depth engagement with the topic.


Underdeveloped--The post is mostly description of summary, without consideration of alternative perspectives, and few connections are made between ideas. The post reflects passing engagement with the topic.


Limited--The post is unfocused, or simply restates previous comments, and displays no evidence of student engagement with the topic.

Alternatively, post is incomplete and does not meet word minimum


No credit--The post is missing, late, or consists of one or two disconnected sentences.

Late Policy

Papers are due when they are due--please turn them in on time. For each day a paper is late, you will lose half a grade point and late papers will not receive written feedback. This means that if you turn a paper in two days late and earn a 3.5, it becomes a 2.5. If you feel that you are unable to meet a paper deadline, please contact me 48 hours in advance to request an extension. I do not guarantee that I will give you an extension, but we can try to work something out.

Academic Integrity Clause

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing--as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.

Zero Tolerance Policy

Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination and bias are hurtful and unacceptable. There is no tolerance for words, speech, behavior, actions, or clothing/possessions that insult, diminish, demean, or belittle any individual or group of persons based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual preference, ability, economic class, national origin, language, or age. Academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of discourse DO NOT protect racism or other acts of harassment and hate. Violations of this Zero Tolerance Policy may result in removal from the classroom and actions governed by the student code of conduct will be taken.

Accommodations Clause

If you need accommodation of any sort, please let me know so that I can work with the UW Disability Resources for Students Office (DRS) to provide what you require. This syllabus is available in large print, as are other class materials. More information about accommodation may be found at http://www.washington.edu/students/drs/.

Writing Resources:

  • Odegaard Writing and Research Center offers free tutoring to all UW students by appointment as well as free targeted tutoring for English language learners in composition courses. You can sign up for an appointment here: http://depts.washington.edu/owrc/signup.php
  • CLUE, The Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment, offers free drop-in tutoring for all UW students.
  • The Instructional Center offers free drop-in tutoring for all UW undergraduates affiliated with the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity.
  • Student-Athlete Academic Services offers academic support to UW student-athletes.
  • Check with individual departments to see if they have a writing center or suggested writing tutors.

212 Syllabus Peters.docx

Catalog Description: 
Introduces eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, focusing on representative works that illustrate literary and intellectual developments of the period. Topics include: exploration, empire, colonialism, slavery, revolution, and nation-building. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
August 4, 2017 - 10:40pm