Reading Modernity in the Eighteenth-Century Novel
English 470
MW 3:00-4:30,Thompson 217, Spring 2000

Professor: Dan White
Office: Library 263, x. 3428
Office Hours: Tuesday 3:00-4:30, Friday 1:00-2:30, or by appointment
Home Phone: (206) 328-5548 (Discretion is advised)

Course Focus: In this advanced discussion seminar, we will examine the emergence of modern subjectivity by witnessing transformations of class and gender in four eighteenth-century novels: Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740) -- after which we will also read Henry Fielding's brief parody, Shamela (1741) -- Fielding's Joseph Andrews (1742), and Frances Burney's Evelina (1778). Along with these works of fiction, we will read shorter theoretical texts that address three areas central to this course's exploration of modern identity: ideology and the history of the novel; economics, class, and individualism; and gender and the history of sexuality. By studying eighteenth-century novels and twentieth-century theories of subjectivity, you will strengthen your critical vocabulary, learn about the origins of the genre, and gain an understanding of the role played by early novels in the production and reproduction of the modern individual.

Requirements: One or two papers (seniors are required to write an 18-20 pp. term paper; sophomores and juniors can write either the 18-20 pp. term paper or a 7 pp. mid-term and a 12 pp. final); two theory papers (3-5 pp.); two class discussion sessions; class participation; attendance. All written work must be computer-printed in Times New Roman 12, titled, double-spaced, paginated, and stapled. Your mid-term (if applicable) and final papers must be submitted in a folder, which must include the following: all previously graded work, the "Papers: Expectations, Guidelines, Advice, and Grading" handout, and any other materials I have given you as a class or individually regarding your writing. If the folder does not contain all required materials, I will return it to you and mark down the paper one part of a grade for each day the folder is late.

Grading: Your grade will be a combination of the paper(s) (50%), two theory papers (15%), two discussion sessions (15%), and class participation (20%), of which attendance is a part. Passivity will not be acceptable in this class; if you have difficulty engaging in public discussion, please see me.

Texts: All readings for this course are from the required sources, which, along with the two recommended texts, are available at the Campus Book Store:

  • Burney, Frances. Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World. Ed. Stewart J. Cooke. New York: Norton, 1998.
  • Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. Ed. Michael Shinagel. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1994.
  • Fielding, Henry. Joseph Andrews with Shamela and Related Writings. Ed. Homer Goldberg. New York: Norton, 1987.
  • Richardson, Samuel. Pamela or, Virtue Rewarded. Ed. T.C. Duncan Eaves and Ben D. Kimpel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.
  • Sterne, Laurence. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Ed. Melvyn New and Joan New. London: Penguin, 1997.
  • English 470 Coursepack


  • Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1999.
  • Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996.

Theory Papers: Most Mondays, two or three of you will each be responsible for distributing a theory paper (3-5 pp.) on the theoretical text to be read for Wednesday of that week. On that Wednesday, you will also be responsible for initiating and helping to facilitate class discussion (see below). Each of you will write two such papers over the course of the semester.

In these theory papers you will attempt to accomplish the following two goals:

  1. Summarize and clarify what you consider to be the central argument of your text
  2. Propose to your readers how the theoretical position of the text allows us to interpret a problem of class, gender, and/or the history of the novel in the assigned section of the novel under discussion; in short, apply the theory to the reading.

You will come to class on the Monday that your paper is due with copies of your paper, one for each student in the class, including yourself, and two for me. Everyone will read your paper for Wednesday, and we will then, when appropriate, use your paper to help us understand the texts in question and to prepare us for our discussion, which you will initiate.

Note: Although these papers should be formal and polished pieces of expository prose, they certainly may -- indeed, they should -- discuss and work through the difficulties you encounter as you read theoretical writing. I will not grade you on how comprehensively you have grasped every facet of the theoretical text, but on how clear, organized, and rigorous you are in your attempt to guide others through the text at hand and prepare the class for discussion.

You may want to buy a binder in which to keep theory papers. That way, as the semester goes on, you can refer to them in order to remind yourself of the material that we have covered. At the end of the semester, then, you will have two or three papers for each theoretical text.

Discussion Sessions: The Wednesdays following the two Mondays for which you have written theory papers, you will be responsible for initiating and facilitating class discussion.

These discussion sessions must focus on applying the theory that we have read, and about which you have written, to the section of the novel under discussion. Be sure to have clear and organized notes that lay out possible lines of inquiry. Your job, however, is not to present a tight and formal lecture! Your own questions and difficulties, along with your ideas and interpretations, should serve as stimuli to class discussion. Keep in mind that your responsibility is to initiate and facilitate -- not to dominate -- discussion.

You should meet with the other discussion leader(s) at least once in order to sketch out the main questions you would like the class to address. These questions should be clearly formulated in your notes, and please feel free to provide any handouts that you think might facilitate discussion. If you leave any such handouts in my box the day before your discussion session, I will be glad to have them photocopied for you.

Furthermore, you should have a plan for how you would like the class to go about addressing your questions. Be sure to have specific passages from both the theoretical and primary texts to which you will direct our attention. Ideally, the class will raise issues that you may or may not have considered, and you thus may well be able to set your plan aside, but have one nonetheless!

All groups are encouraged but not required to meet with the professor during office hours or by appointment on the Tuesday preceding your discussion session. If you do wish to meet, please come prepared to discuss concrete ideas or problems.

In most cases, group members will share an evaluation and grade, although in exceptional cases grades and evaluations may be assigned individually. I will evaluate you on the basis of how engaging, dynamic, and effective you are in initiating and facilitating class discussion. Feel free to try any methods that you think will be effective!


January 19



January 24

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1-64)
Ian Watt, from The Rise of the Novel (C 8-22)

January 26

John Locke, from Two Treatises of Government (C 92-102)
Adam Smith, from The Wealth of Nations (C 1-7)


January 31

Robinson Crusoe (64-148)
Watt, from The Rise of the Novel (C 23-39)

February 2

Watt, from Myths of Modern Individualism (C 46-49, 57-61)
Karl Marx, from Capital, and "Estranged Labour" (C 68-88)
Jean Jacques Rousseau, from Emile (C 89-91)


February 7

Robinson Crusoe (148-220)
Theory Papers due (Weber)

February 9

Discussion Session: Max Weber, from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (C 103-20)


February 14

Samuel Richardson, Pamela (1-139)
Theory Papers due (Foucault)

February 16

Discussion Session: Foucault, from The History of Sexuality (C 131-49)


February 21

Pamela (139-274)
Theory Papers due (Armstrong)

February 23

Discussion Session: Nancy Armstrong, from Desire and Domestic Fiction (C 151-69)


February 28

Pamela (274-412)
Theory Papers due (Armstrong)

March 1

Discussion Session: Armstrong, from Desire and Domestic Fiction (C 170-89)


March 6

Henry Fielding, Shamela
Michael McKeon, from The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740 (C 241-43)
Theory Papers due (Bakhtin)

March 8

Discussion Session: Mikhail Bakhtin, from Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics (C 190-99; see Glossary, 221-27)
Mid-Term Papers due (7 pp.)



March 20

Fielding, Joseph Andrews (Books I and II)

March 22

Bakhtin, "Epic and Novel" (C 200-20)


March 27

Joseph Andrews (Book III)
Theory Papers due (Lukács)

March 29

Discussion Session: Georg Lukács, from The Theory of the Novel (Handout)


April 3

Joseph Andrews (Book IV)

April 5

Michael McKeon, from The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740 (Handout)


April 10

Frances Burney, Evelina (Vol. I)
Theory Papers due (Thompson)

April 12

Discussion Session: E.P. Thompson, "Eighteenth-Century English Society: Class Struggle without Class?" (C 274-307)


April 17

Evelina (Vol. II)
Theory Papers due (Macfarlane)

April 19

Discussion Session: Alan Macfarlane, from The Culture of Capitalism (C 308-19)


April 24

Evelina (Vol. III)
Theory Papers due (Habermas)

April 26

Discussion Session: Jürgen Habermas, from The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (C 244-73)


May 1

Laurence Sterne, from Tristram Shandy (excerpts to be announced)

May 3


May 12, 4:00, English Department: Final Paper due (10-12 or 20 pp.)

Daniel E. White