Appendix B: Nineteenth-Century Literature: Literature Between Revolutions Syllabus

Olivera Jokić (John Jay College)

John Jay College, CUNY
445 W. 59th St., New York NY 10019
Fall 2013. Meetings: TTh 5:30–6:55pm in W121

Professor: Dr. Olivera Jokic
Phone: (212) 237-8566
Office: NB 7.63.37
Office Hours: T 3:30–4:30pm and by appointment

Our Knowledge and Performance Objectives

To become familiar with important literary texts of the nineteenth century
To understand the role of literary, legal, religious, scientific and political discourses in shaping the understanding of nineteenth century literature
To read closely the primary texts, to discuss them and write response papers, in order to develop critical reading and analytical skills
To use a series of graduated writing assignments to sharpen rhetorical and argumentative skills and learn how to incorporate textual evidence
To complete a term paper in order to learn to perform basic, supporting research that contextualizes a work of writing or an idea expressed in writing within a larger discourse of the period

Why the Nineteenth Century?

This will be an upper-division course on the “long nineteenth century.” Our nineteenth century will start in the eighteenth and end in the twentieth. What kind of a nineteenth century is that?

This course will assume that

literature changes over time and changes gradually (not suddenly at the end of a century), and
literature changes because it is in close communication with the world in which it is created: as this world changes, so does the writing in it.

But does the world change the writing or does the writing change the world? The nineteenth century presents some of the greatest examples of writing that changed the world and reflected its enormous changes. To understand how this happened, we will look at the writing created between two dramatic historical bookends to the nineteenth century: the French (Bourgeois) Revolution (1789) and the Russian (Bolshevik) Revolution (1917). Why were there TWO revolutions so close to the nineteenth century? Revolution sounds like serious business. Who would ever dare to start one (let alone two)? Revolutions demand radical change. Where do the revolutionaries get the idea of the new society they demand? What if their vision is not to everyone’s liking? Once it starts, when is a revolution over? What does literature have to do with any of this?

We will read, think and write about how texts and societies interact and what nineteenth-century literature and other texts can tell us about the social and political imagination of the period. We will also begin to learn how to read critical texts about literature written by literary scholars and historians.

Required Texts:

The reading list for this course is fairly serious. Some of the readings are long and demanding, as is appropriate for an upper-level college course for English majors.

There are several books available through the John Jay Bookstore. You may buy your books elsewhere, or read electronic editions of the text.

These books are required:

Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Helen Maria Williams, Letters Written in France
Recommended: Marge Piercy, City of Darkness, City of Light. This book is a fictionalized account of the French Revolution. Piercy treats historical persons who played important parts in the Revolution as literary characters. The book makes it easier to imagine how the Revolution unfolded and how ordinary people decided to participate in such an extraordinary event.

In addition to the books, there will be a number of readings available on Blackboard. These readings are marked (BB) on the reading schedule.

You must have your reading in class, either in paper or electronic copy. You need the reading in order to discuss it. Those who don’t have the reading will be counted absent.

Terminology of Literary Analysis

The work envisioned for this semester assumes that each student in this class has successfully completed Literature 260. Everyone in this class is presumed to be familiar with the basic concepts and terminology of literary analysis. If you are unsure that you have all the terms covered, you should have a book that covers these. Here’s an example of such a book:

M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 9th ed., Thomson-Wadsworth, 2005. ISBN 9781413033908.

I am assuming all of you already have one of each of these:

A good, unabridged dictionary, e.g., the American Heritage Dictionary or Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. The latter has a good website at The Oxford English Dictionary is available online through the John Jay library.
A riting handbook, e.g., John Jay’s Rhetoric, Research, and Strategies, which you can purchase at the Bookstore; equally acceptable is Diana Hacker’s Writer’s Reference or any other handbook you may have acquired for your composition classes.
A notebook/note-taking habit and that you take notes on your reading. Bring your notes to every class as you can expect to use them for in-class writing exercises almost every period.

Class Policies:

Attention and focus: This is an upper-division class. It requires a lot of work and a lot of attention. You should only stay in the class if you are willing to commit to doing the work. The amount and complexity of reading will challenge everyone and the only way to keep the work under control is to do it regularly. Outside of class, you will read and take notes. In class, you will bring your homework, participate in discussion.

Texting, playing games, Facebooking etc. are all signs that you are not engaged in class work. If I see you using your phone in class, you will have to leave and I will count you absent.

Attendance is mandatory and will constitute a part of your grade. You are allowed four absences. If you miss four classes, you will lose 10% of the total grade (A will become B, B will become C, etc.) Save your allowed absences for emergencies. Anyone with four or more absences will not pass the course.

Academic integrity I am assuming that you know that plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are unacceptable. Any plagiarized assignment will receive an automatic F and the student who submitted it will be reported to the Academic Integrity Officer.


There will be three kinds of assignments: reading, weekly writing and essays.

Reading must be done by the date it appears on the syllabus.

Each class meeting students will submit a short essay on Blackboard, responding to the reading and suggesting topics for discussion. I will randomly call on students to give us a brief presentation of their reading and their response.


Paper 1: 5%
Paper 2: 15%
Final Paper: 30%

In this course, everybody has to do all the work all the time. There is no extra-credit work you can do to make up for the work you miss during the semester.

Students with Disabilities:

If you have a disability that has not been accommodated by the class setup, please talk to me privately, immediately after the first class meeting.

Course Schedule

Aug 29 Introductions: Literature of the Nineteenth Century; Literature and the Revolution; Literature OF the Revolution?

Sep 3 Read Williams, Introduction to The Long Revolution; Piercy, Author’s Note to City of Darkness, City of Light (BB)

Sep 5 No class!

Sep 10 Read Rousseau, from A Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract (BB)

Sep 12 Read Thomas Paine, “An Essay for the Use of New Republicans,” “Reasons for Preserving the Life of Louis Capet;” excerpts from The Rights of Man and Common Sense; William Godwin, excerpts from Political Justice (BB)

Sep 17 Read Helen Maria Williams, Letters Written in France

Sep 19 Read Helen Maria Williams, Letters Written in France

Sep 24 Read Edmund Burke, from Reflections on the Revolution in France (BB)

Sep 26 Paper 1 Workshop: bring a draft!

Oct 1 Paper 1 (5 pages) due! What is Romantic/romantic (poetry)?

Oct 3 Read Wordsworth’s “Preface” to Lyrical Ballads, “The Thorn,” “Michael;” Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere” (BB)

Oct 8 Raymond Williams, “Structures of Feeling” (BB)

Oct 10 William Blake, “All Religions are One,” “Introduction” to Songs of Innocence, “The Chimney Sweeper” SI, “Holy Thursday” SI, “Holy Thursday” SE, “The Chimney Sweeper” SE, “London” (BB)

Oct 15 No class! (Follow your MONDAY schedule!)

Oct 17 Read Wordsworth, “I Grieved for Bonaparte;” “To Toussaint L’Ouverture,” excerpts from The Prelude; S. T. Coleridge, “France: An Ode,” “Dainty Terms for Fratricide,” “Eolian Harp” (BB)

Oct 22 Read E. P. Thompson, “Disenchantment or Default: A Lay Sermon;” Wordsworth, “Genius of Burke!” (BB)

Oct 24 Read Mary Robinson, “January, 1795;” Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Defence of Poetry,” “England in 1819,” “The Mask of Anarchy” (BB); Anna Lætitia Barbauld “Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, A Poem” at; P. B. Shelley, “Ozymandias” at

Oct 29 Read Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Oct 31 Read Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Nov 5 Read Shelley, Frankenstein

Nov 7 Paper 2 Workshop! Bring a hard copy of your draft to class!

Nov 12 Read Read poetry by Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn and Katherine Philips (BB); read Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (BB)

Nov 14 Read Jane Rendall, “Feminism and Republicanism” from The Origins of Modern Feminism (BB)

Nov 15 Last day to drop with a W!

Nov 19 Read Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, from “The Communist Manifesto;” Rapport, from 1848: the Year of Revolution (BB)

Nov 21 Emma Goldman, “Anarchism: What It Really Stands For,” “Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty,” “Woman Suffrage” (BB)

Nov 26 Paper 2 due! Read Charles Darwin, from The Origin of Species; Steven Shapin, “The Darwin Show” (BB)

Nov 28 No class! Happy Thanksgiving!

Dec 3 Read Nicolai Gogol, “The Overcoat” (BB)

Dec 5 Read Leo Trotsky, “On the Eve of a Revolution,” “Preface” and “Five days” from The History of the Russian Revolution, “1789–1848–1905,” “The Motive Forces of the Russian Revolution” (BB)

Dec 10 Read Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents

Dec 12 Read Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents

Dec 16–19 Paper Consultations

Dec 20 Final Paper Due!