British Literature 1800 to Present
English 56B (Fall 2007)
T/R 10:30-11:45am, Clark 225


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Dr. Katherine D. Harris
Office Hours
: T/R 3-4pm, by Appt. & Email
Office:  FO 220
Phone: 408.924.4475


Course Description  ¤ Course Objectives ¤ Course Policies ¤  Grading Policy

Grade Distribution  ¤  Late Policy  ¤  Plagiarism  ¤  Required  Books


Course Description
This course is an examination of British literature from the Romantic Period through Postmodernism. Tracing the development of selected literary styles and periods, we will read texts that reflect some of the variety of cultural and historical experiences in Great Britain from about 1800 to now. The authors to be studied have been selected for their considerable influence on the future directions of British life and thought and their ability to startle and compel contemporary readers.

We will take a literary-historical perspective on British writing. Literary: we will read texts carefully, paying close attention to what is said and how it is being said. Such close reading will help us to discover not only what texts mean but also how they mean and how they come to have different, sometimes contradictory meanings in different contexts. Historical: we will read texts to learn about past ideas, cultures, societies, peoples, events. We will consider questions such as: what was the significance of those writings in their original contexts? what did those writings do in the past? what is the importance of those past writings to us in the present? The aim of the close reading techniques is to deepen our understanding of the historical changes in British writings, ideas, values, and cultures.

Course Objectives
  • To recognize and appreciate the importance of major literary genres, subgenres, and periods.
  • To understand the relations between culture, history, and texts, including ideological and political aspects of the representation, economic processes of textual production, dissemination and reception.
  • To become familiar with the nature of the canon and of canon-formation, including issues of culture, history, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.
  • To read texts closely and to articulate the value of close reading in the study of literature and rhetoric.
  • To explicate texts written in a wide variety of forms, styles, structures, and modes.
  • To respond imaginatively to the content and style of texts.

  • Required Books & Materials (all on Course Reserve in King Library)
    • Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vols. D, E & F. 8th edition. Packaged with Jane Eyre.
    • or Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vols. D, E & F. 8th edition. (ISBN: 9780393928349) and Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. 3RD edition. New York: Norton, 2001. (ISBN 9780393975428)
    • Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange. New York: Norton, 1986. (ISBN 9780393312836)
    • Cunningham, Michael. The Hours. VHPS, 2000. (ISBN 9780312243022)
    • Fforde, Jasper. The Eyre Affair. Penguin (ISBN 9780142001806)
    • Gaiman, Neil. Sandman: Endless Nights. 2004. (ISBN 9781401201135)
    • Jackson, Shelly, Patchwork Girl. Eastgate, 1995. (ISBN 9781884511236) – CD-Rom
    • Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. New York: Norton, 1999. (ISBN 9780393960129)
    • Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Harcourt, 2005. (ISBN 9780156030357)
    • Exam Booklets (for in-class exams & final exam)
    • Computer disk or flash drive
    • Email account & account


    • A Research Guide for Undergraduates in English & American Literature. MLA, 2006 (ISBN: 0873529243)
    • Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference (or other writing handbook)
    • Dictionary, Collegiate-level
    Grade Distribution
    10% Class Discussion, Participation & 3 Questions
    15% Weekly Response Essays & Literary Event Essay
    15% Mid-Term Exam
    20% Group Presentation & Essay
    20% Final Exam

    20% Final Essay (5-7pp)


    Class Discussion, Participation & 3 Questions
    This course traces the various political, social and cultural upheavals of the nineteenth century as reflected in the novel. Since we will build on our definition of the novel and nineteenth-century culture from the first day of class, your participation in each class meeting is imperative. At the beginning of every class meeting, three questions (handwritten) about the day's readings are due. These questions are meant to help you think about the texts for that day's discussion as well as let me know if you understand the texts. I will collect, read and return your questions without comments except a check mark at the bottom to indicate credit. Keep these questions; they could potentially become an interesting topic for your final essay! You must attend class to receive credit for that day's questions.

    In addition to the 3 questions, a student’s participation is assessed by his/her contribution throughout the semester. Use the following as guidelines for this portion of your final grade:

  • To earn a "C," do the minimum: at every meeting, read and prepare assigned readings so you are never at a loss if you are asked a question, but speak only when called upon, do "ordinary," plain-vanilla presentations and responses. This is the "bottom line" for getting a "C" in this part of the course.
  • To earn a "B," at every meeting, prepare assigned readings thoroughly, initiate discussions about them by asking good questions or suggesting ways to interpret readings, do presentations that reveal that you have done good additional work that you can make both interesting and meaningful to our discussions, and participate actively in those discussions.
  • For an "A," take it up another level entirely: at every meeting, prepare readings thoroughly, find and talk about connections among them and among other aspects of culture (then and now), take a real leadership role in class discussions, including working actively to get others involved in the talk, make your presentations and responses "sparkle" by bringing to them something really special in terms of your own contributions, interests, skills, and abilities to think in broad even interdisciplinary terms. Most of all, remember that an "A" indicates the very best grade a person can get; that should tell you what sort of work you need to do to earn the grade of "A."
  • If you miss class, contact a classmate for notes, reading assignments and handouts – or check our Course Website. (Please do not email me to ask "Did I miss anything important?")

    Weekly Response Essays (ICE/OCE) & Literary Event Essay
    Every Thursday, we will spend the first 10-20 minutes writing an essay response (ICE) to an assigned question about the current reading assignment. As the semester progresses, this essay may turn into an out-of-class emailed essay (OCE) of approximately 300-500 words. Each essay will receive a grade based on the quality of your response. This weekly writing will also allow you to practice your in-class writing skills and prepare you for our essay exams. We will discuss what makes an effective response. (See tips for writing effective In-Class Essays.)

    There are no make-ups for an ICE/OCE; you simply receive a zero for that essay.
    If an OCE is assigned, it needs to be emailed by the date and time specified in order to receive credit; a late OCE will receive a zero. Please be aware that missing even a few of these essays will cause your final grade to drop significantly.

    For the Literary Event Essay, attend a literary event on campus (I recommend the Salman Rushdie talk on November 8th!) and write a 300-word assessment of the event and its literary-ness. This event is your choice, however, it must be an SJSU "literary" event. Email your essay and submit the program or ticket stub within one week of the event in order to receive credit. See these sites for SJSU Events: Reading Program, Center for Literary Arts, University Events, Student Events, Theater Productions and other events around campus. 

    The lowest grade in this entire group of essays will be dropped.


    Group Presentation & Short Essay
    Everyone will have an opportunity to present in a group on a literary work at some point during the semester. Each group member is responsible for his/her individual accompanying short essay which should be submitted prior to the start of the presentation. Each presentation will be graded on its effectiveness and clarity. To enhance your presentation, you may use handouts, digital information or dramatic performance. The Short Essay will be graded on standard English Department grading policy. We will discuss both the presentation and the short essay at our first class meeting and will sign up (via email) for presentations before our second class. (See instructions/handout here. See Presentation Assignments here [and in the Schedule].)
    Final Essay
    You will have several options for the Final Essay, ranging from creative to scholarly. No outside research will be required although you may certainly research primary sources or the historical aspects of a text, individual, theme, motif, etc. A project proposal will be submitted during the semester and returned with comments. Thorough instructions will be discussed at a later date (see the Schedule). My office door is always open to discuss potential topics, give web designing tutorials or workshop a draft. (See instructions here.)

    Mid-term and Final Exams
    Each exam will consist of definitions, short answer and essay questions. Portions of the Final Exam will be comprehensive. Keywords defined in lectures and use of the Norton Literature Online site will aid in studying for these exams. The Mid-term Exam will take place on October 9. The Final Exam will take place on Monday, December 17, 9:45am-12pm. Please bring bluebooks to both of these exams.
    Grading Policy
    The Department of English reaffirms its commitment to the differential grading scale as defined in the SJSU Catalog ("The Grading System"). Grades issued must represent a full range of student performance: A= excellent; B= above average; C= average; D= below average; F= failure. For final grades, 100-90 is an A, 89-80 is a B, 79-70 is a C, 69-60 is a D, and below 60 is an F. Pluses and minuses are the middle of each range. In calculating for the final grade, a set number will represent each letter grade; for example, B+ is 87.5, B is 85, and B- is 82.5.

    In English Department courses, instructors will comment on and grade the quality of student writing as well as the quality of ideas being conveyed. All student writing should be distinguished by correct grammar and punctuation, appropriate diction and syntax, and well-organized paragraphs. Grades issued will represent a full range of student performance (no extra credit offered) and will adhere to the following SJSU academic standards of assessment:
    • The "A" essay will be well organized and well developed, demonstrating a clear understanding and fulfillment of the assignment. It will show the student’s ability to use language effectively and construct sentences distinguished by syntactic complexity and variety. Such essays will be essentially free of grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors.
    • The "B" essay will demonstrate competence in the same categories as the "A" essay. The chief difference is that the "B" essay will show some describably slight weaknesses in one of those categories. It may slight one of the assigned tasks, show less facility of expression, or contain some minor grammatical, mechanical, or usage flaws.
    • The "C" essay will complete all tasks set by the assignment, but show weakness in fundamentals (usually development), with barely enough specific information to illustrate the experience or support generalizations. The sentence construction may be less mature, and the use of language less effective and correct than the "B" essay.
    • The "D" essay will neglect one of the assigned tasks and be noticeably superficial in its treatment of the assignment—that is, too simplistic or short. The essay may reveal some problems in development, with insufficient specific information to illustrate the experience or support generalizations. It will contain grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors that render some sentences incomprehensible.
    • The "F" essay will demonstrate a striking underdevelopment of ideas and insufficient or unfocused organization. It will contain serious grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors that render some sentences incomprehensible.
    Course Policies
    Late Assignments/Essays
    If you cannot meet a deadline, you must contact me at least 72 hours prior to our class meeting to discuss the situation. If this is not done, for every day that an essay is late, you will be penalized one grade step: A becomes A-, A- becomes a B+, etc. The weekend will count as one day. Unless you have prior permission or the assignment specifically requests it, absolutely no assignment will be accepted via email.
    Academic Honesty
    Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at San José State University, and the University’s Academic Integrity Policy requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Policy on academic integrity can be found at:
    Avoiding Plagiarism
    Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of somebody else’s words or ideas and is considered an instance of academic dishonesty that instructors must report. You commit plagiarism by
    • buying, stealing, or borrowing a paper;
    • hiring someone to write a paper;
    • building on someone’s ideas without providing a citation;
    • or copying from another source or using a source too closely when paraphrasing.

    In other words, submit only your own work. In addition, please know that submitting work from another course (recycling) is also against the Academic Honesty Policy. To learn how to cite sources accurately and forthrightly, consult your handbook. If you have any questions about when or how to document a source, do not hesitate to ask me for clarification. Turning in plagiarized work may result in immediate failure in the course and could result in dismissal from San José State University. See King Library’s definition, the University policy and a plagiarism tutorial: 

    Plagiarism checks will be performed by asking students to submit various written exercises or essays to, a service which scans documents for all references to Web sources and other essays. The instructor reserves the right to revise the requirements and to notify students of such revision in a timely manner.

    Classroom Environment
    Respect your fellow students and I: Arrive on time (excessive tardiness will affect your participation grade) and do not partake in disruptive behavior. If you are late, wait for an appropriate moment to enter so you do not disturb the class. Turn off cell phones or put them on silent mode during the class period.
    Email is the best possible way to contact me (9am-5pm) and has the added bonus of recording our conversations. When emailing me, please consider it a formal communication: include the appropriate salutation, your name, your question/comment or your OCE. Know that long conversations over email are not fruitful merely because of the limitations of technology. If you have an extended question or dilemma, please visit me during office hours. I will amass a class email list and will occasionally send out information regarding our meetings or the readings. Please provide an email address that you check daily.
    Course Website
    As we move along in the semester, course materials will be posted on the course website. After you have entered, simply click on our class title to print the current schedule or handouts, visit online resources, print copies of lost documents, find the SJSU Writing Center, check my office hours, find writing help, discover local literary events or double-check the meaning of "plagiarism."
    SJSU Writing Center
    Visit me during office hours for help with your writing. For even further help, go to the Writing Center located in Clark Hall, Room 126. Hours: Monday-Thursday 9-7 and Friday 9-1; Call for appointments at 924-2308 or go online at Work with tutors in a one-on-one environment. Make appointments online at the above website.
    LARC (Learning Assistance Resource Center)
    The Learning Assistance Resource Center is an on-campus facility that provides peer tutoring for San José State University students. LARC offers assistance with writing, and if you feel as if you need intensive help beyond what I can offer during office hours, please request a writing tutor. The Center is located in The Student Services Center in the 10th Street Parking Garage, Room 600. The phone number is (408) 924-2587.
    Disabilities Policy
    If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours.  Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities register with the DRC to establish a record of their disability.



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    Dr. Katherine D. Harris
    Last updated: 12/16/2007 04:35 PM
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