Last updated:
Sept. 25, 2012

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Laura L. Runge
Office: CPR 360D
Phone: 813-974-9496

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    LIT 6236
    18th Century Novel and Theory

    This course has been designed to meet the following objectives:

  • To trace and discover what the early British novel looks like and does by exploring digital databases, such as EEBO, ECCO, and the Burney Newspaper Database;

  • To examine theories of the novel in England, including origins, print culture/history, cognitive theories, object theories, gender and transnational theories;

  • To analyze several exemplary novels from the period; to form critical opinions about their historical, cultural, literary and analytical merits

Required Texts

    Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach, ed. Michael McKeon (Johns Hopkins, 2000) ISBN-10 080186397X, ISBN 13 978-0801863974

    Novel Definitions: An Anthology of Commentary on the Novel, 1688-1815, ed. Cheryl L. Nixon (Broadview 2009) ISBN 978-1-55111-646-4

    Popular Fiction by Women 1660-1730, ed. John Richetti and Paula Backscheider (Oxford UP, 1997) ISBN-10: 0198711379; ISBN-13: 978-0198711377

    Samuel Richardson, Pamela ed. Thomas Keymer, Alice Wakley (Oxford World Classics) 2008; ISBN-10: 019953649X; ISBN-13: 978-0199536498

    Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrew and Shamela, ed. Judith Hawley (Penguin Classics) 1999, ISBN-10: 0140433864; ISBN-13: 978-0140433869

    Frances Burney, Cecilia ed. Peter Sabor and Margaret Anne Doody (Oxford Classics) 2009, 2009 ISBN-10: 019955238X; ISBN-13: 978-0199552382

Electronic Media

This class will be interacting with the Blackboard website for ENL6236.001, to be located on your MY USF website.

We will be using discussion boards, wiki, and documents and possibly other tools from this site. and I will also post assignments, messages and further information about the class on this site. PLEASE CHECK IT FREQUENTLY.

My Website: information on class, assignments and links to other important sites on literature, etc.

We may use other social media in this class, such as Twitter. For posting on this class, please use #18Cnovel; I can be found @laura_runge.

18thConnect: Eighteenth-century Scholarship Online: This is an online organization for eighteenth-century texts and scholarship. I will ask you to join so that you can create objects and participate in some of the activities I will design.

Grubstreet Project: Directed by Allison Muri of the University of Saskatchewan, this site creates a visual mapping of the publication networks in eighteenth-century London.

Eighteenth-century Book Tracker an archive built by Ben Pauley to assist with full-text searches of eighteenth-century books in Google books and Internet Archive.

Google N-gram Viewer check out the trends in books from the eighteenth century to today. Play with it.

Other important websites will be listed in the schedule of reading.


Throughout I have made links to notes and discussion questions from a previous class on this material. This is for your information and enjoyment. It is not part of your assignment.

Experimental Prose Fiction ? How the Novel Starts

Aug 27 Class 1: Syllabus and Introductions:
    Introduce Archives ? EEBO and ECCO ? search for early novel; Active reading exercise

Sept 3 ?Class 2: No meeting -- ?Labor Day?
    Prepare PDF to share and write up of early novel
    Theory: Nixon, Introduction (15-57); Spedding, ??The New Machine?: Discovering the Limits of ECCO? (PDF course docs); Janine Barchas, from Graphic Design, Print Culture and the Eighteenth-century Novel (PDF course docs).

Sept 10 Class 3: Some Theories
    Theory: Gallagher (PDF course docs); Eagleton (PDF course docs); Watt (363-381) and McKeon (382-397) in McKeon. See Notes part 1 and Notes 2 for outlines of McKeon's full argument. Also Rambler #4 (Nixon, 148-152); Archive Presentations due.

Sept 17 Class 4:Early Women Writers
    Backscheider and Richetti ? Intro, Behn, Manley, Barker and Aubin;
    Theory: from Nixon (TBA); Aravamudan (Blackwell, course docs)

Sept 24 ?Class 5: Early Women Writers (2)
    Backscheider and Richetti ? Haywood and Davys
    Theory: Bowers, King (Blackwell, course docs)

Consolidation in Print Culture

Oct 1 Class 6: Pamela
    Read volume 1, through p. 219
    Theory: from Nixon (TBA)

Oct 8 ?Class 7: Pamela
    Read volume 2 (through p. 503, plus appendices if desired)
    Theory: Armstrong (in McKeon)

Oct 15 ?Class 8: Fielding's Shamela
    Read Hawley's introduction to the book as well as all of Shamela
    Theory: Bahktin, Anderson (in McKeon)
    Introduce Grubstreet project online.
    Letter to the instructor due ? via email write a mid-term course evaluation assessing what you are learning, what you wish you were learning, what you would like to see happen in the second half of the semester and how the instructor can help you.

Oct 22 Class 9: History, Data and the Novel
    Theory: Moretti, ?Style, Inc. Reflections on Seven Thousand Titles (British Novels, 1740-1850) Critical Inquiry 6.1 (Autumn 2009): 134-58;
    Matthew Wilkens, ?Canons, Close Reading, and the Evolution of Method,? Debates in the Digital Humanities, ed. Matthew Gold. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 2012;
    James Raven, ?Historical Introduction: The Novel Comes of Age? The English Novel 1770-1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction published in the British Isles. Vol. 1 1770-1799 ed. James Raven, Antonia Forster (Oxford UP 2000), 15-121.
    Introduce Data Mining Project

Oct 29 ?Class 10: Joseph Andrews
Nov 5 ?Class 11: Joseph Andrews
    Finish JA
    Theory: McDowell, ?Why Fanny Can?t Read? (Blackwell, PDF course docs)
    Data Mining Projects presentations

What the Novel Becomes

Nov 12 ?Class 12: No Meeting ? Veteran?s Day.
    Read theory: Wall, The Prose of Things, intro and ch. 6 (PDF course docs) plus Julie Park, The Self and It , chap 1 and 4 (PDF course docs)
    Begin Media Object Presentations.

Nov 19 Class 13: Cecilia
Nov 26 ?Class 14: Cecilia
    Read vols 3-4 (pp 321-715)
    Media Object presentations

Dec 3 ?Class 15: Cecilia
    Read vol 5
    Theory: Zunshine (PDF Course Docs) Kramnick, ?Empiricism, Cognitive Science and the Novel? from EC 78 (Fall 2007) 263-285.

Final Projects are due one week from the last day of class (Dec. 10) unless you make other arrangements with the instructor.

Graded Assignments

Weekly posts 15%

Participation (Includes in-class writings -- 5%

Archive Project (2-3 pages) -- 15%

Wiki Page of Critical Terms -- 15%

Data Mining Project (3-5 pages including figures) -- 15%

Material Objects project (2-3 pages) -- 15%

Final Project options -- 20%

This syllabus is subject to change.

** Students who anticipate the necessity of being absent from class due to the observation of a major religious observance must provide notice of the date(s) to the instructor, in writing, by the second class meeting.

Description of Graded Assignments

Weekly Posts:

Students are responsible for writing a weekly posts, reading the posts of other students and responding to posts. Specifically, I ask that students identify a passage from the reading, either a novel or critical reading, that strikes you in some way -- something that raises your curiosity because you don?t understand it, because it presents a new idea, because it seems significant to the whole, or for any reason that merits further scrutiny. After citing or quoting this important passage, the student will write about the passage for a minimum of 200 words, telling us why it strikes you. You may not repeat a passage that another classmate has cited, and you must not consistently choose passages from the first half of the work for the week. These will be signs to me that you are not reading the work or processing it adequately and you will be graded accordingly. These posts will be due to class by midnight on Sunday so that the other members of the class can read the postings and add any thoughts that seem relevant.

The more you respond to other posts, the higher your participation grade will be, but more importantly, the more you will learn.


Throughout the course you will be asked to participate in activities during class that involve group work, independent research, writing and discussion. Your participation in these activities is essential for reaching the outcomes of the class. You will need ? first of all ? to be present in order to participate, and so any missed classes will detract from your participation grade. Second of all, you will need to be prepared by having read the assigned material and having completed the assigned research or writing. Third you should have a laptop available for writing and researching during class. We will be learning how to use digital archives and databases that include 17th and 18th century fictional narratives and contemporary digital communities, such as 18th Connect and the Grubstreet Project.

Archive Project (2-3 page paper)

On the first day of class, we will practice searching for novels in pre-1700 archives (EEBO) to learn what a novel looked like in its earliest stages. Each student will be asked to identify what he or she thinks is a novel by the end of class. Over the Labor Day holiday, you will download a pdf of your ?novel? and read it. You will prepare a 2-3 page paper describing what your novel is like.
Questions you should address include:
    What does your ?novel? look like? What made you decide this was a novel?
    Do you have an operating definition of the novel? If so, what is it? If not, how did you decide?
    What is the novel about?
    Where is it published?
    What does the title page tell us about it?
    What narrative strategies seem to be at work?
    How does this differ from novels of the nineteenth century or twentieth century? How does it differ from fiction now?
    What is unique or strange about your work?
    What questions arise from your example?
    What questions arise from the collective process?

Wiki Page of Critical Terms

As a class we will author a wiki page of critical terms for the early British novel. I will begin by entering nine terms that require definitions, and each student will pick one. The student will supply the definition from the critical works that we are reading this semester. Students should add a layer to the definition every time you come across a critic that uses the term critically. For example, ?realism? will be a central term for us this semester and one that requires considerable nuance. Every time a student enters a layer of a definition, he or she should cite the critic from whom the definition is taken and add his or her (student?s) initials in brackets, so that we can know who added what and where it came from.

The objective is to create a useful document for understanding the eighteenth-century novel and from which those preparing for exams can study. It will also provide a nice short hand for critical theories when it comes to preparing your final projects. All students are expected to supply a base definition (i.e. be the first to define a word) and supplement other definitions as you discover them. To receive a B on this project, you will begin by consulting the OED and providing a decent, well-established base definition for one of the original seven words, including record of first usage. For each addition, whether it is another layer of definition to an existing word or the entry of a new word and definition, you will raise your grade .1. (e.g. a B = 3.3; one addition would be 3.4; two additions would be 3.5 or B+; 3.7 is A- and 4.0 is A). You can also* entries that are particularly useful, and I will give the author extra credit. This is a collaborative exercise. It is important to value the input of others.

Data Mining Project (3-5 pages)

We will be reading several articles that involve a new way of researching in the digital humanities, called data mining. The object of this project is to get you thinking in new ways about the research we can do when our texts are digitized, tagged and encoded. We have several archives available for searching, and most are accessible through 18thConnect. In class we will practice searching, and you will dream up a small data mining project based in the texts we have for this class. For example, a simple one would be ?How many times does Fielding invoke classic Greek or Roman texts in Joseph Andrews?? We might increase the value of the exercise by comparing it to Greek and Roman allusions in Pamela, Shamela or Anti-Pamela. This type of exercise opens up new questions for us, and you will be asked to venture into these new inquiries. In groups of two or three, students will design a data mining search, explain the rationale, conduct the research, visualize the data and analyze it for us. We need not be very sophisticated in the visualization and analysis, but if you are skilled in these areas feel free to instruct us. Students will present results in class briefly. In order to receive full credit (that is, the full grade earned by the paper and presentation) there must be evidence of participation in the planning, execution, analysis, creation of the documents and presentation. I will ask each student to write individually a self and group evaluation of the project.

Material Objects Project (2-3 pp)

After reading about object theory and its relationship to the eighteenth-century novel (Wall, The Prose of Things, intro and ch. 6, plus Julie Park, The Self and It, chap 1 and 4), we will conduct our own investigation into eighteenth-century things by digging into the Burney newspaper archives. After the first class on Cecilia, each student will choose three objects of interest and run a key word search for the years of 1775-1785; after skimming and analyzing results, the student will choose one to write upon. Reading at least one newspaper article or ?object? (advertisement, list, announcement, etc.) from at least five different years in the run, summarize your findings in a report that develops useful information about contexts for novels or aids in your interpretation of the novel as a whole. Students should pursue any questions raised with further research and provide a list of references. Students will present results briefly during our penultimate class. Visuals are required!

Final Project

You will have the option of doing a) a text correction for 18thConnect using Typewright; b) a creative adaptation of an eighteenth-century novel; c) a 10-12 page (3000-3600 word) research paper that builds upon research conducted in earlier projects; or d) a take-home exam. Each final project (except the exam) must include a cover letter of no more than 900 words that describes your project, your goals in attempting it; what you learned from completing it, and any future plans you have for it.

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