English 712: Women Writers: Romantic-Era Women Novelists
Fall 2006, Mondays 6-9pm, Clow 209
Julie Shaffer

Office: Radford 208  
Phone: 424-7288
Office Hours: Tuesday 12-3; 1-2 in Reeve Common Ground; 1-3 in my office

My website:
www.english.uwosh.edu/shaffer, with lots of useful links
Novels Available for your Independent Project
Our Reserve List

Other important websites:

U W Oshkosh English Department website: http://www.english.uwosh.edu/

Sheffield Hallam Corvey Website: http://www2.shu.ac.uk/cw3
Sheffield Hallam Corinne (Student Journal) Website: http://www.shu.ac.uk/corinne (sometimes the link doesn't work)
CW3 Journal (professional, peer-reviewed journal) Website: http://www2.shu.ac.uk/corvey/cw3journal/index.html

Stephen Behrendt’s Corvey Novels Course Project at the University of Nebraska:

Stephen Behrendt's list of Student Work on Corvey Novels:

Cardiff University’s Corvey-related website: http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/corvey/index.html
See also: http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/romtext/links.html

See also: The English Novel, 1830–1836
A Bibliographical Survey of Fiction Published in the British Isles

Our Texts:

Frances Burney, Evelina 1778 (Bedford-St Martin’s)
Ann Radcliffe, The Italian 1797 (Oxford World Classics)
Mary Wollstonecraft, The Wrongs of Woman, or, Maria 1798 (College Publishing)
Amelia Opie, Adeline Mowbray 1804 (College Publishing)
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice 1813 (Broadview)
Articles, as assigned
Novel(s) by the author you adopt (see list)

In a period best known for the works of six male poets (Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Byron, P.B. Shelley, Blake), the Romantic era (ca. 1790-1830) witnessed an explosion of the production of another genre, the novel. A good 5,000 or more were written in these decades, about half by women. The authors we’ll read, who are among the best known of the female novelists of the period, constitute an excellent starting point for exploring the literature of the era. We will therefore read, discuss, and write about one novel by each of these authors. Using them as a springboard, we will also examine social and literary history of the period to gain insight into ways these authors used their novels to comment on women’s place in the culture of the genteel (lower gentry, professional, or mercantile) classes. By examining these novelists’ work, we will also identify the styles, themes, and interests that scholars usually assume characterize the work of women writers of this era.

But is this the whole story? After reading and discussing work by Burney, Radcliffe, Wollstonecraft, Opie, and Austen, we will explore this issue by moving into fairly uncharted ground. Each of you will choose a less well-known female novelist and perform in-depth study on one or two works by that novelist, the number depending on how many of these works are available and on their length. Each of you will then write an 18-25 page research paper on your author’s work, addressing questions we will explore in the first half or so of the semester, plus additional questions that arise from the novel you read. You might address these issues: To what extent is your adopted author’s work similar to that of Burney, Radcliffe, Wollstonecraft, Opie, and/or Austen? To what extent are the same themes addressed? How does your author’s work depart from what many current scholars believe to be the “norms” for women’s novels of the Romantic era? How might your insights into your author’s accomplishments ask us to revise our notions of women’s writing in the period? In addition to writing your seminar paper, you will write an annotated bibliography of works you find that help you understand the author whose novels you read and aid you to construct your paper.

Our work here will augment work currently being done by students University of Nebraska and at Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Their work is based in a microfiche edition of the largest library of Romantic-era British novels, the Corvey Collection. The holdings of the women’s literature in the collection are catalogued, along with other information, on a website you will visit often this semester, at <http://www.shu.ac.uk/corvey/CW3>. There you’ll find bibliographic information on over a thousand texts; synopses of novels and some collections of poetry; occasional portraits of the women whose work is in the collection; and hundreds of reviews of the novels from Romantic-era journals (most of which I put there!). The best of the work that students there have done to date on the collection is posted in a web journal, Corinne, which you can access at <http://www.shu.ac.uk/schools/cs/corvey/corinne>, as well as on webpages posted at University of Nebraska, <http://www.unl.edu/Corvey/html/Projects/CorveyNovels/NovelsPreparedIndex.htm>.

The Sheffield Hallam site also contains an e-journal of peer-reviewed articles on works in the collection, the CW3 Journal, which can be found at http://www2.shu.ac.uk/corvey/CW3journal/index.html; a similar peer-reviewed journal can be found through the Corvey project site at University of Wales at Cardiff University: http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/romtext/ (For a list of all articles, see http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/romtext/articles/index.html

The best of the work you do for this class will be posted on our own issue of Corinne which will then be linked to the Sheffield Hallam University’s web-Corinne or will make up a special issue of the CW3 Journal. To this end, I will ask you to sign a permission sheet to post your work. Not only will you be writing what may be the only work written about your author in the last hundred years or more; you will also have your work published in an international e-journal. And, as a result of the work we do in this class, we may expand knowledge of what women novelists were writing and thinking in the Romantic era and gain strong research skills.

Course Requirements: Attendance and active participation are vital to making this course work for you and your classmates. Participation in discussion will comprise a significant part of your grade.

Oral work: in addition to participating in discussion, you will give brief presentations on secondary material and participate in leading class on days you make such presentations. You will also give a brief (!) summary of the novel you choose for your major project in this class, share research you have done that you believe will help your classmates, and present your final paper in the form of a conference paper - a shorter version than what you will turn in. Guidelines will follow.

Written work: position papers/active reading responses on the five novels we’ll read together and a short paper on two of them; a 15-20 page paper on your adopted author; and an annotated bibliography of secondary material for that paper.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is an act of intellectual theft. Do not do it. I generally catch plagiarism, and the result is a fail on the plagiarized paper, a fail in the class, and notification of the event to the Dean of Students Office. In class, we will cover what needs to be cited and how to avoid plagiarism

Other rules: If you miss more than 2 weeks' classes (2 classes), your grade may drop. After 3 weeks' absence (3 classes), you may fail. I do not differentiate between excused and unexcused absences. By this I mean, if you use your absences for non-excused reasons but then need to miss classes for excused reasons (death of a family member, illness), the non-excused reasons may be cause for your failing the class. If you miss 3 or more weeks of class from illness - 3 classes - you may get a late drop approved by the office of Student Affairs. Very late arrivals and very early departures will count as absences, as will your coming to class unable to add to discussion from utter unpreparedness - from not having read the text or performed written work leading into discussion, for instance. If you are absent, find out what you missed and what assignments were given not be contacting me but by calling classmates, whose phone numbers you will get during the first week of the semester (and are also posted through our d2l site).

Papers handed in late may adversely affect your grade unless you have discussed your need to hand a paper in late beforehand with me. Generally, papers handed in late will drop one half letter grade for each day they are late, and after one week, they will receive a fail. Plagiarism, which I invariably catch, will result in a fail on the paper, a fail in the course, and action taken against you through appropriate university channels. Newspaper reading, sleeping, private conversation in class, along with other rudenesses, will not be tolerated.


Class Schedule
(subject to sudden, frequent, and radical revision)

Week 1, Sept 11

Week 2, Sept 18

Week 3, Sept 25

Week 4, Oct 2, if possible to be rescheduled

  • The Italian.










Week 5, Oct 9


Mary Wollstonecraft

Week 6, Oct 16

  • Wollstonecraft, Maria
  • Start on Adeline Mowbray

Week 7, Oct 23

  • Adeline Mowbray



Week 8, Oct 30

  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Sources suggested for presentations: Butler; Kennard; Kirkham; Looser; Newton (using Interlibrary Loan to borrow those we do not own at Polk), or secondary material you prefer.

Week 9, Nov 6

  • Pride and Prejudice



image from sophie.byu.edu/literature/

Week 10, Nov 13

  • Brief summary of your novel. Presentation on scholarship useful for your novels making up your annotated bibliography thus far along with your thesis for your long paper; sharing of research recommendations for your classmates.

Week 11, Nov 20

  • Continuation of the above











Week 12, Nov 27

  • Begin workshopping seminar papers.

Week 13, Dec 4

  • Class presentations

Week 14, Dec 11

  • Class presentations. Seminar papers due.

return to Shaffer's home page
go to list of novels available for project