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ENGL 440 A: Special Studies in Literature

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
* *
Sydney Kaplan
Sydney Kaplan

Syllabus Description:

English 440A:  Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf

Autumn Quarter  2020  Tues. & Thurs. 1:30-3:20 p.m.
Zoom ID  920-6874-6400

Professor Sydney Kaplan       



The course will focus on the works of two important modernist women writers.  Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) and Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) were innovators and experimenters, women of vision and authority.  Both the novel and short story genres were permanently altered by their achievements.  Although they came from dissimilar backgrounds, grew up in different countries (Woolf in England, Mansfield in New Zealand), and experienced different roles in life, they drew together as colleagues and friends, and undeniably, influenced each other as writers of fiction. 

We will consider in this course such issues as women’s problematic relationship to modernism, the origins of feminist literary theory, questions of feminist aesthetics, and other topics to be formulated by class members.  Texts will include Katherine Mansfield Stories, and the following novels by Virginia Woolf:  Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, The Waves, and Between the Acts.  We will also read Woolf’s A Room of Ones Own.   Although it is not required, I have ordered copies of Woolf’s Moments of Being, which I will refer to in lectures and discussion.

The course will be conducted as a seminar, in which each student will be expected to participate fully in discussion and to contribute ideas and information in oral reports based on individual research into aspects of the texts.   Although there will be brief lectures, this class depends primarily on class discussion.  If it is to be effective, each student must participate actively in it.  To this end, you will need to write three questions (at least one paragraph each) based on that day’s reading.  These should be sent to me as a Word attachment (by email to before the beginning of class each day.  You may be called upon to read one of your questions to the class and explain why it concerned you. I will keep a file of your questions and give you a grade on them at the end of the quarter.)   At least 60 percent of your grade will be based on the quality of your written questions and your participation in class discussion.

In addition to your written questions, oral reports and participation in discussion, there will be a midterm and a final exam. You will be tested on your understanding of the texts and your ability to incorporate concepts from the lectures and class discussion into your analysis.                                           


Week 1. (Thursday, October 1) :  Introduction to the class
Week 2 (October 6 &8 )

            Tuesday:  Mansfield:   The Tiredness of Rosabel ,” “At Lehmann’s,”  “The Woman at the
                                 Store,” “The Little Governess”  “From Her Letters,” pp. 315- 18.
 Thursday:  “Prelude,” “At the Bay” ,  “From Her Letters,” pp. 319-25,  Kaplan: “Sex
                                Danger, Freedom,” pp. 386-92.                                  
Week 3 (October 13 & 15) 

            Tuesday:  “The Doll’s House,” “The Garden Party,” “Life of Ma Parker,” “Bliss” “From Her
                             Letters,” pp. 326-33, O’Sullivan:  “The New Zealand Stories”

            Thursday:  “Je ne parle pas francais,” “The Man Without a Temperament,” “The Fly”                      

Week 4 (October 20 & 22))  

            Tuesday:   Woolf:  “Modern Fiction,” (on-line) Mrs Dalloway  (1st 3rd)
               Thursday:  Mrs.Dalloway (2nd 3rd)

Week 5 (October 27 & 29)
            Tuesday:   Mrs. Dalloway (finish novel)   Midterm Exam (to be returned by noon on Monday)
            Thursday:   To the Lighthouse

Week 6 (November 3 & 5)

            Tuesday:   To the Lighthouse
            Thursday:  To the Lighthouse

Week 7 (November 10 & 12) 

            Tuesday:     A Room of One’s Own
              Thursday:  A Room of One’s Own

Week 8 ( November 157& 19)

            Tuesday: The Waves
             Thursday:  The Waves

Week 9 (November 24 & 26) 

            Tuesday:   The Waves
              Thursday:  Thanksgiving Holiday

Week 10 ( December 1& 3)

            Tuesday:  Between the Acts
            Thursday:  Between the Acts

Week 11 (December 8 & 10)

            Tuesday:  Between the Acts
              Thursday:  Summing  Up        Final Exam (to be returned by noon on Wednesday)  


Catalog Description: 
Themes and topics offering special approaches to literature.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
June 28, 2020 - 10:50pm