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Dangerous Words and Women:

Female Reading, Writing, and Revision (Oh My!)


Introduction to Fiction (English 23800-002-19540)

Course Description
This course will introduce students to the genre of fiction, one of the Instructor: Mary Beth Harris
oldest and still most popular genres of literature. This section of the Office: HEAV 325A
course will focus in particular on the theme of gender. To understand Email: harri239@purdue.edu
this connection thematically, this course will explore the ways that
Office Hours: Friday, 2:20-4:20pm
women as characters, readers, and writers have occupied a central role
in the cultural navigation of fiction as a literary form, particularly in the and by appointment
formation of the novel. As the novel emerged as a genre in the
eighteenth century, it was seen (usually by men) as a softer, feminine
Course Meetings:
form, suitable and yet dangerous for the impressionable minds of MWF 4:30-5:20pm HEAV 128
women. Now, men clearly read and were influenced by novels in and
out of the eighteenth century, but this feminine label will provide a
jumping off point for our class. This course will present the ways women have taken hold of fiction (and its early
negative connotations) for their own political, cultural, racial, and gendered explorationsand, ultimately, how
female authors craft alternative histories of fiction based on these interests. The units and course structure will center
on sets of novels by women, supplemented by companion short stories and prose readings by both men and women.
This course will present female authors in conversation with each other, sometimes accepting, sometimes rejecting or
revising to create space for a multiplicity of feminine voices and fictional forms. More broadly, by tracing
connections between the dangers of fiction to the social restraints of women, this course hopes to explore how gender
(for both men and women) is the work of fiction and, reciprocally, how fiction is the work of gender.

Course Objectives
By the end of this course students should be able to:
engage with texts through analysis rather than judgment
closely read complex material and connect it to the larger themes of the course
use evidence to support abstract, analytical thinking
voice their own ideas in class discussion and engage with the ideas of others
gain an understanding of the development of fiction as a genre from the eighteenth century to the present
think about how literature and gender intertwine and influence each other
consider about how texts and language shape culture, reality, and identity

Required Texts
You are expected to have the correct, printed versions of the books and to print out any blackboard readings. You
may order books online, but they must be these editions, and you must have them in time to do the readings.

*Available at Vons (765-743-1915319 West State Street)


--. The Female Quixote (1752) by Charlotte LennoxOxford World Classics (978-0199540242)
--. Northanger Abbey (1817) by Jane AustenOxford World Classics (978-0199535545)
--. Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte BronteNorton Critical Edition (9780393975420)
--. Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) by Jean RhysW.W. Norton & Co (9780393308808)
--. Their Eyes Were Watching God (1933) Zora Neal HurstonHarper Collins Publisher (9780060931414)
* All other readings will be available on Blackboard

Course Requirements
Exercise: Short Close Reading
Paper 1: Literary Analysis
Paper 2: 2-Text Literary Analysis
Midterm Exam
Final Exam
Class Participation and Quizzes

To be successful in this course, you should do the following:


Take ownership of your learning: Successful problem solvers have to practice and learn material on
their own.
Commit to engaging with the reading: The reading load will be approximately 50-80 pages per
session. According to University standards, a three-credit class entails six hours per week of homework time
for class reading, plus extra time for writing papers and studying for exams. Write in your books, consider
why you react the way you do to the reading, and ask questions of the material. You may not like what we
read, but that does not mean it is not worth reading.
Be an active participant in the classroom: This is a discussion-based course, so your preparation and
participation are vital to its success. The more engaged you are, the more you will learn and the more fun
you will have. Be prepared!
Ask for help: I am here to help however I can; please do drop by my office hours. There are also services
on campus to help with your writing, such as the Writing Lab. Reading and writing about literature can be
challenging, and I want to help you succeed.
Although literature is not empirical, you can be wrong: Thinking about literature is about making
interpretations and building arguments. You must pay careful attention to our texts, make reasonable
claims, and provide evidence from the text to convince our class to agree with your view. This means
anything goes wont fly in our classroom. Convince us!
Commit to working on your writing: Writing is hard. Make sure you spend time planning, drafting,
revising, and getting feedback, from me, peers, or the Writing Lab. The excellent essay is a rare thing; it
must excel in both content and form.

ENGL 238: Sample Calendar


Unit 1: Dangerous Reading: Novels and the Female Imagination
Week 1: August 25-29
8/25- Syllabus DayIn-Class: The Spectator No 4
8/27- Setting the Scene: The Rambler No 4 (blackboard), Don Quixote Excerpts (blackboard),
Romance Excerpts (blackboard)
8/29- Female Quixote: Bk. 1 (pg 5-55),

Week 2: September 1-5


9/1 NO CLASS Labor Day
9/3 FQ: 2 (56-107)
9/5 FQ: 3 (108-138)

Week 3: September 8-12


9/8 FQ: 4 (139-178)
9/10 FQ 5 (179-208)
9/12 FQ 6 (209-254)

Week 4: September 15-19


9/15 FQ 7 (255-307)
9/17 FQ 8 (308-331)
9/19 FQ 9 (332-384)

Week 5: September 22-26


9/22 FQ Wrap-Up Day
9/24 Writing Workshop: PEAS paragraph structure
9/26 Close Reading Exercise Due! Transition to Northanger Abbey, Introducing the Gothic: Excerpts
from The Monk, The Mysteries of Udolpho (blackboard)

Week 6: September 29-October 3


9/29 Northanger Abbey (4-65)
10/1 Northanger Abbey (66-125)
10/3 Northanger Abbey (125-187)

Unit 2: Dangerous Women: Madwomen of Page and Pen


Week 7: October 6-10
10/6 Jane Eyre (1-70)
10/8 Jane Eyre (70-130)
10/10 MIDTERM EXAM

Week 8: October 13-17


NO CLASS FALL BREAK
10/15 Jane Eyre (130-187)
10/17 Jane Eyre (187-253)

Week 9: October 20-24


10/20 Jane Eyre 4 (253-321)
10/22 Jane Eyre 5 (321-385)
10/24 Excerpt from Gilbert and Gubar (Blackboard); Jane Eyre Wrap-Up Day

Week 10: October 27-31


10/27 Writing Workshop: Effective Thesis Statements and Essay Planning
10/29 William Faulkner A Rose for Emily (Blackboard)
10/31 Wide Sargasso Sea Part 1

Week 11: November 3-7


11/3 Wide Sargasso Sea 2 Part 2
11/5 Wide Sargasso Sea 3 Part 3
11/7 Essay 1 Due! Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper (Blackboard)

Unit 3: Dangerous Revisions: Diversifying the Canon


Week 12: November 10-14
11/10 Virginia Woolf A Room of Ones Own (first half)
11/12 A Room of Ones Own (second half)
11/14 Zora Neal Hurston How It Feels to Be Colored Me & Their Eyes Were Watching God (1-20)

Week 13: November 17-21


11/17 Their Eyes Were Watching God Part 1 (21-87)
11/19 Their Eyes Were Watching God Part 2 (88-128)
11/21 Their Eyes Were Watching God Part 3 (129-193)

Week 14: November 24-28


11/24 Their Eyes Were Watching God Part 4 Wrap-Up
NO CLASS: THANKSGIVING

Week 15: December 1-5


12/1 Sui Sin Far Mrs. Spring Fragrance (Blackboard)
12/3 Toni Morrison Recitatif (1983) (Blackboard)
12/5 Writing Workshop: Putting Texts into Dialogue

Week 16: December 8-12Dead Week


12/8 Alice Walker Everyday Use (Blackboard)
12/10 Jhumpa Lahiri The Treatment of Bibi Hadar (Blackboard)
12/12 Exam Prep
FINALS WEEK: December 15-19Final Exam and Final Essay Due (TBA)
Sample Syllabus