ENGL 315 A: Literary Modernism

Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm
* *
Jessica Burstein
Jessica Burstein

Syllabus Description:



As noted in the course descriptions, this course is indeed  taught synchronously: IRT. There are considered ethical reasons for my decision, and I would be happy to discuss them in office hours: email me for an appointment. If you are unable to attend class owing to time zones or work, or other known-at-this-point scheduling conflicts, you do need to find another class, one taught in such a manner that suits the pragmatics of your schedule. I am not here referring to unanticipated issues that may arise in the following weeks. --JB


Prof. Burstein jb2@uw.edu (they/their)


English 315A Winter 2021: Literary Modernism, Womanliness as Mask

Class Time: M/W 2.30-4:20 PST. I will provide a Zoom link on/before Sunday 3 January: check UW.edu email.

Office Hours (Zoom link TBA) Thursdays 8-10 am; & also by appointment.

If my camera is not on, I’m still there, and you are not interrupting me. Please say “Knock knock” or something equally clever so I know you are there and I’ll turn on my camera.


“If she wore a mask, it covered her face completely.” –Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady


Jessie Redmon Fauset, Plum Bun. This is [amazingly] out of print, so the Pdf is in Canvas “Files”). I recommend that you print it out, but it's 390 pages, so you can also read it online.

Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier (1918) Penguin USA (Paper); ISBN: 014118065X

Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lolly Willowes, ISBN-13 : 978-0940322165

Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway,  Mariner Books, ISBN-13 : 978-0156628709

Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca Harper, ISBN: 978-0380730407



This is a reading-heavy class. Participation includes your own time management in order to complete the reading.  Unless indicated otherwise in the schedule, you need to complete the entire novel by the beginning of the class in which we begin its discussion.


Week One: Modelling

Monday 4 Jan Introduction. Syllabus walk-through; introductions.

Wednesday 6 Jan:Jean Rhys, “Mannequin” http://vestoj.com/mannequin/ Print out a copy if you can.

Pay especial attention to the passage following “Each of the twelve was a distinct and separate type”; and to the story’s final lines.

After Wedn: Start reading Plum Bun.


Week Two:      USA: The Black Flapper

Monday 11 January: Jean Rhys, “Mannequin.”

Pay especial attention to the passage following “Each of the twelve was a distinct and separate type”; and to the story’s final lines.

Wednesday 13 Jan: Jessie Redmon Fauset, Plum Bun (1928) pp. 1-207


Week Three  

Monday 18 Jan: Holiday; no class.

Wednesday 20 Jan: Plum Bun, pp. 208-390.  

 Sunday: Quiz #1 Due: Plum Bun


Week Four: War: “Spinsters” and the Home Front

Monday 25 Jan:  West, Return of the Soldier (1918)

Wednesday 27 Jan: West, con’t. Quiz #2 due: West.


Week Five:  Magic

Monday 1 Feb: No class. Panic paper day.

Tuesday 2 Feb: Paper #1 due 5 pm PST on the Rhys, Fauset, or West. "Paper #1 instructions" are in "Files," as "Paper #1 instructions":  here.

Wednesday 3 Feb:  West, con't



Week Six

Monday 8 Feb: Noon: Warner, Lolly Willowes Quiz #3 due; classtime: Warner.

Wednesday 10 Feb: Warner, con’t.        Homework: Begin reading Mrs. Dalloway. You need to have completed it before we begin discussion on Wednesday. Take your edition and divide the page numbers into the days you have available, then read that number per day.           

Week Seven:  Time

Monday 15 Feb Holiday; no class.     

Wednesday 17 Feb Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1926)


Week Eight    

Monday 22 Feb: Mrs. Dalloway, con’t. Noon: Quiz Due: Mrs. Dalloway.

Wednesday 24 Feb: Mrs. Dalloway, con’t


Week Nine: Ghosts and Monsters

Monday 1 March: Rebecca (1938), pp. 1-193

Wednesday 3 March: Rebecca, con’t, 193-386.


Week Ten

Monday 8 March Rebecca. Noon: Quiz due: Rebecca.

Wednesday 10 March. Class conclusion--discussion.

Thursday 11 March, 5 pm: Paper #2 due.




Paper #1: 20%: 1500-2500 words focused on a single text. Instructions are here.

Paper #2: 35%: 6 pages; two texts, open topic, and thematic. Think ahead and think creatively. Further instructions TK.  You’ll need a thesis.

In-Class Work (Scribing, independent in-class writing, in-class contribution to discussion): 25%

Quizzes: 20%.  See "How to Qui"z in Files.



            Extra credit: Proto viva voce: This can boost your In-Class Work grade, as participation. By appointment only (during office hours is fine),  with at least 24 hours’ notice. You must receive written confirmation from me of the appointment.

            Come to office hours twice in the term for a 20 minute slot of time, ready to chat about our reading. You choose the topic. You will need to have made at least a serious dent in the book so you don’t fall over when I say, “Well, he dies later.” Chat means chat, but if the thought of talking with a professor freezes you in your tracks, you can come in with something prepared. It also can be, dare I say, fun—and good for your college career. I’ll likely be asking you questions; this is meant to be an exchange of some sort.



  1. Cameras on during class periods. See me (metaphorically) if this is an issue, technical or otherwise.
  2. Always write me from your UW.edu email account. I do not open emails sent from personal accounts. Call IT if you are confused about the mechanics of forwarding email to different accounts: the email to me must emerge from a UW.edu. You can also use Canvas, but email is nicer because we can keep track of the conversation more readily.
  3. Do not plagiarize. Plagiarism includes lifting material from the internet, collusion, and the use of sources without full citation. Papers are to be the result of your own labor, and all sources must be documented. If you have any questions regarding what constitutes plagiarism, consult me.
  4. If I get your name or preferred pronoun wrong, please let me know.
  5. This syllabus is subject to change. I may announce changes during our in-person sessions, and/or notify the class via email. You are responsible for keeping up with these modifications to our schedule and/or assignments: check your email account once a day for the remainder of the term.
  6. Things are especially crazy nowadays, and something is going to go sideways at least once and possibly 200 times. It will be ok. Keep calm, stay in contact with me, and carry on.


If you require accommodation owing to a disability, contact the Disabilities Resources for Students Office (DRS) in Schmitz Hall 448 (206-548-8924; uwdss@u.washington.edu) or the Disabilities Services Office (DSO) at dso@u.washington.edu. It is your responsibility to follow all rules outlined by the DRS/DSO: Should forms be involved, you must ensure delivery to me with time enough to allow for us to arrive at a mutual understanding of the means by which those accommodations are best met.


“Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/religious-accommodations-policy/) (Links to an external site.). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request/) (Links to an external site.).”

The Department of English at the University of Washington acknowledges that our university is located on the shared lands and waters of the Coast Salish peoples. We aspire to be a place where human rights are respected and where any of us can seek support. This includes people of all ethnicities, faiths, gender identities, national and indigenous origins, political views, and citizenship status; nontheists; LGBQTIA+; those with disabilities; veterans; and anyone who has been targeted, abused, or disenfranchised.

Please see me if your ability to participate in the course is unexpectedly affected. I am aware that these are demanding times.







Catalog Description: 
Introduces the genealogy, character, and consequences, of modernism/modernity. Topics may include: preoccupations with novelty/the new; narratives of historical development; temporality; constructions of high and low culture; intersections between aesthetics and politics; transnationalism; and philosophical influences upon literary modernism.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 13, 2020 - 4:40am