A Syllabus for English 202.801, Summer 1999

English 202.801: Reading Gothic Romances in Different Contexts
Session II. Classes: June 1st - July 21st; Final Journal Due July 27th
Tuesday/Thursday 7:20-10:00, Krug Hall 253
Lecturer: Dr. Ellen Moody; Homepage: http://mason.gmu.edu/~emoody

How to Contact Me Outside Class:

Without an Appointment:

Write to me by e-mail: <ellen2@JimandEllen.org> & <emoody@osf1.gmu.edu>; you can write me 24 hours a day; I look at my mail at least twice a day, and I write back. Be sure to type the e-mail address to which you wish me to send my reply at the end of your message.

You can call the phone in the office I use (993-1176) or the English office (993- 1160) or leave a message in my box in the English Office, which is in Robinson Hall on the fourth floor. It is, however, well to remember that I am on campus only 2 evenings. The secretaries don't call me; they simply place put a note in my box. Further, leaving essays in my box is a chancy business because materials get lost this way. No-one stands guard over the boxes. The safest speediest way to get a late essay to me is to bring it to the next class and give it to me warm hand to warm hand.

With an Appointment:

Private conferences to go over journals, and discuss reading or personal problems are available by appointment Tues/Thurs 6:00-7:10 PM in Robinson Hall A455. Sign up on the stenography pad which will be placed on the corner of my desk every time the class meets.

Description of Course (or, this particular English 202):

In the next 7-8 weeks, we will read a series of mostly short novels, a few poems, and one screenplay against different backgrounds. We will be examining how the ways in which we read or interpret an author's work differs in accordance with the frameworks we place it in. We will begin with Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and the 1995 Mirage-Columbia/SONY Sense and Sensibility (directed by Ang Lee, screenplay Emma Thompson). Here we will explore what is meant by gothic romance as opposed to the realistic novel; at the same time, we will examine how differently we understand the same story when it is told through words in a book or through moving pictures and speech and action in a movie. We will then read a pair of novels by a father and daughter, William Godwin's Things as They Are; or the Adventures of Caleb Williams and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, and a few poems of a close friend of the latter which formed part of the inspiration for Frankenstein, George Gordon, Lord Byron's 'The Prisoner of Chillon', 'Darkness' and accompanying lyrics. This time we will see how the gothic lends itself to radical social criticism and fantastic nightmare and how Frankenstein closely imitates yet takes much further the moral inferences of Caleb Williams. Our third pair of novels, Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent, An Hibernian Tale and Anthony Trollope's An Eye for an Eye are examples of ironic and erotic gothic romance meant to be read in terms of a specfic time and place, Ireland. Here we will see how gothic romance deals with the reality of the terrible power of money and class and how these maim our sexual and familial experiences. Our last pair of novels, Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly repeat many of the themes, devices, and moods of all our previous books. These two novels will enable us to see how a recent sequel to a story that has become legendary can make us read the story very differently simply by switching the perspective from which the tale is told.

Required Books (in the order we will read them):

Required Film:

Suggested Books and Films:

Required Essays:

In this class you will be asked to read and to demonstrate you have read all the required books. There will be no long individually researched paper, no on-the-spot midterm or final essay, and no quizzes. Instead you will be required to write four essays outside class in the form of journal entries on all the texts that we read. These are our "set journals" and are to be numbered (1, 2, 3, and 4).

What is a book journal? See attachment entitled Directed Journal Entry (or, how to write an essay with guidelines) and student model. You are asked to follow the guideliness religiously in order to explore on paper what you have thought and felt after reading a text or seeing a movie, using language that comes naturally to you communicate your ideas and feelings a genuine or sincere response of your own. The aim of the writing component in my course is to help you learn to read better and respond more thoughtfully to books and films in such a way as to communicate to others what you gained from such experiences. I invite you to learn how to weave information you gather from class or the introductory material in your books about the author's life and period, and words drawn from your text of film with your own thoughts. I require you to read or see nothing outside the-above cited texts and movies. However, if you do not adhere to the guidelines (for example, your plot summary must not be more than 1 paragraph; your analysis of text must be 2-3 pages) I will simply return your journal unread to you with an unpleasant "F."

Due dates for the set journals: you are asked to hand your work in on the day specified in the calendar; if a journal or the story is a session late, I will take down the grade an element for every sessions it is late (a B+ becomes a B, then a B- and so on). In this course in which there are so many popular movies available and so much on the Internet that may be plagiarized, I will be especially on the lookout for plagiarism. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Plagiarism is defined by the GMU English Department as follows:

'"Plagiarism means using words, opinions, or factual information from another person without giving that person credit. Writers give credit through accepted documentation styles, such as parenthetical citation, footnotes, or end notes; a simple listing of books and articles consulted is not sufficient. Plagiarism is the equivalent of intellectual robbery and cannot be tolerated in an academic setting."
If I suspect you of, or catch you at, plagiarising, I will follow the guidelines of the English department which require that I fail such a student and report him or her to the Chair of my Department. I am serious about this.

Extra Credit Journals:

If you would like to bring your grade up, you can do more journals or revise the journals you have handed in. If you decide to revise a journal, the grade for the first and second versions will be averaged together to form a single grade for that journal.

'Extra credit' journals can be based on the following choices: one or more of the suggested books or selections therefrom; one or more of the suggested films; a different pairing of the books we read and discuss in class. You could do an extra journal comparing Shelley's Frankenstein to Trollope's An Eye for An Eye or Martin's Mary Reilly (the depiction of women, of birth, pregnancy, sexual behaviors); you could compare Shelley's Frankenstein with Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (the connections between science and magic; fear of both; the supernatural). Consult me before going ahead.

One other Requirement and One Hope:

1) I ask that you attend class: I believe something is to be gained by coming to class, and that we all can learn a great deal from one another. Thus, I expect everyone to come, to read all assigned texts, and to see the one required movie. I will take attendance everyday from the second session on.

2) I hope that you participate in class. To do this you have to have read most of the text due to be read for a given session. Our class may be too large and some of the material too unfamiliar or hard to try to include class participation of everyone, so that I will often have simply to lecture or talk myself and read aloud a good deal; nevertheless, I ask questions and try my best to generation discussion through following up on any questions or comments students like to make. People learn by talking to one another. We have only one longish novel and I have tried to arrange the books in such a way as to enable you to keep up. However, even when you have not read a text or seen the movie, it is better to come than to cut cut class. You learn nothing when you stay away. In my classes absence is the road to bewilderment.


Your grade will be reflect the work you have done over the 7-8 weeks. By the end of this time I should have a minimum of four grades for each student on my roster. These I will average together to form the final grade. If a student has done extra journals, he or she will have more grades to be averaged in. I also take into account your attendance record; your participation in class; if you came for help if you needed it; and, those journals which showed that you cared, that you really thought about your subject and made an effort to find something out about it or to explore it and to write something intelligent and coherent and complete. I recognize the value of and reward hard work when I see it and take into account someone who has journeyed from a lesser place to a better one through effort.


Week 1: June 1 & 3 (Tues/Thurs):

In Class: Course introduction, what is a book journal, we'll watch 1995 Mirage- Columbia/SONY Sense and Sensibility; we'll discuss romance and the novel; 1st third of Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

Outside Class: For Thursday (6/3) have read Thompson's screenplay. For Tuesay (6/8) have read 1st and 2nd volume of Austen's Sense and Sensibility; for Thursday (6/10) have read all of Austen's novel.

Week 2: June 8 & 10 (Tues/Thurs):

In Class: We'll discuss Austen's Sense and Sensibility; introduction to Jacobin era, French revolution, romantic period, birth of the gothic.

Outside Class: For Tuesday (6/15) write Book Journal #1: A Comparison of Austen's novel with the 1995 film, read 1st & begin 2nd volume of Godwin's Caleb Williams; also Byron's 'Prisoner of Chillon' and 'Darkness'

Week 3: June 15 (Tuesday). No class on June 17th (Dr Moody on business trip)

In Class: BOOK JOURNAL #1 DUE; we'll discuss Caleb Williams, Byron's and Shelley's poetry, the Godwin-Wollstonecraft-Byron-Shelley circles.

Outside Class: For Tuesday (6/22) finish reading Godwin's novel; for Thursday (6/24) read 1st half (Chapters 1-12) of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Week 4: June 22 & 24 (Tues/Thurs):

In Class: We'll discuss Caleb Williams, the legend of Frankenstein and other similar gothic myths (of vampires and ghosts); we'll connect them to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; then we'll discuss the first half of Frankenstein.

Outside Class: For Tuesday (6/29): finish reading Frankenstein; for Thursday (7/1) write BOOK JOURNAL #2: A Comparison of Godwin's with Shelley's novels; read Part One of Edgeworth's Castle Rackent.

Week 5: June 29 & July 1 (Tues/Thurs):

In Class: Frankenstein; BOOK JOURNAL #2 DUE; discuss Ireland, gothic myths, Edgeworth's novel.

Outside Class: for Thursday (7/8), read Part Two of Edgeworth's novella, and Volume One of Trollope's An Eye for An Eye.

Week 6: July 8 (Thursday). No classes on July 6th (Fourth of July).

In Class: finish discussion of Castle Rackrent; begin discussing An Eye for An Eye.

Outside Class: For Tuesday (7/13) finish reading Trollope's An Eye for An Eye; for Thursday (7/15) write Book Journal #3: A Comparison of Edgeworth's and Trollope's novels, and read fStevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Week 7: July 13 & 15 (Tues/Thurs):

In Class: We'll discuss An Eye for An Eye; BOOK JOURNAL #3 DUE; then we'lll discuss Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Outside Class: For Tuesday (7/20) read at least through 'Book Two' of Mary Reilly.

Week 8: July 20 (Tuesday).

In Class: We'll discuss Mary Reilly and conclude the course.

Outside Class: finish reading Mary Reilly and write Book Journal #4: A Comparison of Stevenson's and Martin's novels.

Final due on Week 9: July 27th (Tuesday):

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated: 30 May 1999.