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The British Novel to 1850’s Docs THE ENGLISH NOVEL I: ASSIGNMENTS

Assignments and Grading:

For due dates, check the course calendar

Assignment 1: Tag Cloud Analysis (10%): Plug in the text of OROONOKO. (You can download and copy-paste it from this site). Create a Word dog that contains (1) your tag cloud image and (2) a 300-word analysis of it. Analysis prompts: What are the most frequent words? In context, what do they mean? What does their frequency tell you about this novel? Which frequencies surprise you? Summarize, paraphrase, quote, and cite the novel to support your argument. In other words, use textual evidence. A great post will enlist text, subtext, and context to interpret the tag cloud.

ASSIGNMENT 2: Researching the Robinsonade (20%)

Write a 700-1000 word blog post detailing your research in the Wisconsin Historical Collection (at the University Archives) on a television Robinsonade: THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON (ABC, 1975). Questions to answer:

– what manuscript have you chosen? What is its genre (script, treatment, etc.)?
– at what stage in the production process was it created (shooting script, rough draft, etc.)?
– how does it represent motifs and themes from ROBINSON CRUSOE (examples: Providence, civilization/”savagery,” government, the slave trade, friendship, survival, loneliness, islands, fathers and sons, Britain, shipwrecks, etc.)
– What makes it a Robinsonade? How does it change the Robinsonade tradition?
– feel free to include any images from Wikimedia Commons or other free collections, and/or clips from Youtube. Some images and information about the ROBINSON CRUSOE television show is available at IMDB.

An A-grade post will privilege ANALYSIS over summary (though a little summary will necessary), will be well-written, and will have textual evidence to support its claims. Don’t “quote dump” — avoid block quotes (often, padding) and quote sparingly, using only the words that constitute your evidence. Please submit your post twice: once to Digital Commons (titled “Researching the Robinsonade,” categorized as “English Novel I,” and again, as a Word or PDF file, to your D2L dropbox. This way, we’ll have one published copy and another one for grading and backup.

Assignment 3: 5 graded blog posts, selected from a wider array (25% total):

You’ll write seven blog posts: roughly one per major author or text. You can find out how frequently to post by consulting the course calendar. Each post must consist of 300-500 words, and wrestle in some way with the text and/or its contexts.

You will choose the best five posts and turn them in, intermittently, for grading. Your choice of posts will test your ability to reread and critically examine your writing. The element of choice also will allow you to have one — or several — “bad days” for which you’re not penalized.

A B-level post will demonstrate knowledge of the text – not just its plot – engagement with your peers, including reading some of their posts, and will advance a persuasive argument or pose a good question for discussion or further research. An A-level post will incorporate close-readings of cited quotes and paraphrases, avoid summary, push the boundaries beyond conventional interpretations (nothing you can find on SparkNotes or Spartacus, for example), and show that you’ve been doing research of your own, on the internet (reliable sources, please) or in peer-reviewed journals and books. Please submit your posts to the Digital Commons, titled with the novel’s title and categorized as “The Novel Begins!: British Novel I.” When you’ve chosen the ones you want graded, paste screenshots of them into a Word file and upload them to D2L.

Assignment 4: Epistolary Fiction (10%):

Write a 500-800-word letter from some minor character to the protagonist of either PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, CONFESSIONS OF A JUSTIFIED SINNER, or JANE EYRE. Contest some element of the dominant narrative. Incorporate evidence from the novel, which you should quote and cite (in footnotes). You will be graded on your demonstrated knowledge of the text (including use of textual evidence), your ability to look beyond the obvious, your argumentation, and your originality. Please note: you aren’t required to attack the protagonist, though that’s an acceptable choice.

Dramaturgical hintd: WHEN in the story’s chronology does your character write your letter? What does (s)he WANT, at that point? Show that you know the novel’s plot, contexts, and subtexts, and question aspects of it that appear straightforward or obvious. You should ANALYZE the text rather than summarizing it or glossing it.

Please submit your post twice: once to Digital Commons (titled “Letter from [X] to[Y],” assigned to the category The Novel Begins!: British Novel I), and again, as a Word or PDF file, to your D2L dropbox. This way, we’ll have one published copy and another one for grading and backup.

Assignment 5: Annotated Novel Chapter (20% total):

Choose one chapter of JANE EYRE or WUTHERING HEIGHTS. (Don’t choose JANE EYRE if you did for the last assignment) Annotate your chapter in the style of Asimov’s Annotated Gulliver’s Travels. Make your annotations illustrate one THEME or CONTEXT. Do independent research at Cofrin Library to inform your annotations. Clarify text, reveal subtext, offer opinions, and make connections with your reading and remembered experience, just like Asimov does. Cite your sources. (Alas, Asimov doesn’t always cite his.) Then, turn in your annotated chapter as a Word file, to D2L.

Assignment 6: Participation (15%). Participation includes but is not limited to: arrival on time, with books, homework, and any other preparation or tools brought and/or prepared, and full mental presence. In other words, while you are in class, pay attention, analyze course materials, complete assigned tasks, grapple with ideas and possibilities, help your classmates, and <i>uni-task</i>. Active mental presence is the only way to learn, and you can’t do it while passively consuming information on a computer or other electronic device.

For due dates, check the course calendar


All assignments must be turned in on the due date; any assignments (excluding oral presentations) not turned in will be penalized one full letter grade per day. Any oral presentations not turned in on the day might receive a zero, if in my judgment they cannot be incorporated into later class sessions without negative impact on your classmates’ learning.

There are 100 possible points available. Once a percentage of the points earned is determined, I will assign final grades based on the following scale (100 pts equals 100 percent, etc.):

92-100 A 89-91 A/B
82-88 B 79-81 B/C
72-78 C 69-71 C/D
60-68 D F is below 60

For due dates, check the course calendar

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