Syllabus: The Courtship Novel in England

EN 2348 Spring 2008
Course Description:

This course examines the courtship novel – a specific type of novel that treats the time between a young woman’s entrance into society and her marriage as the most important time in her life.  One could argue that courtship novels are still being written today; however, we’re going to focus on the period 1740-1820, a period during which the courtship novel (along with the novel itself) first came into being.  During this time, ideas about male and female nature, how men and women ought to behave (in general and towards each other) and about the nature of marriage changed.  We’ll be asking how the literature we read participates in these changes, paying special attention to literary depictions of the following:

  • Female nature and ideal feminine conduct
  • The debate about women’s education
  • Models of courtship and marriage
  • The role of the woman writer

Required Texts:

Primary Textsare available through Barnes and Noble. If you buy the texts through a different venue, please buy the editions specified:


  • Charlotte Smith, Emmeline, Or The Orphan of the Castle (Broadview Press)
  • Elizabeth Inchbald, A Simple Story (Oxford World Classics)
  • Maria Edgeworth, Belinda (Oxford World Classics)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria; or, The Wrongs of Woman and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Longman Cultural Edition)
  • Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (Oxford World Classics)

Shorter Pieces: TBA

Course Requirements:

Weekly Reading Responses on ANGEL, Class Participation & Short Assignments 5%
Forums 10%
Research Assignment Summary Report: 10%
Research Presentation (group): 10%
Paper 1 (in lieu of midterm) 30%
Paper 2 (in lieu of final exam) 35%

A brief note about ANGEL:  We will be using ANGEL throughout the semester. On it, you will find weekly assignments, a place to post your comments and papers and a way to track your grades.  Throughout the semester I will also be posting links that lead to helpful information about the texts/authors we are studying (material on Milton is already up).  If you haven’t used ANGEL before, please contact Angel Support ( for help ASAP.

An important note: you must bring the assigned primary texts to class.  We will be doing a lot of close reading this semester.  Without a book, xerox copy, or a printout, you will be unable to fully participate in our class discussions.  Consequently, neglecting to bring the required reading to class will affect your grade.

Class Participation: This course will require a great deal of reading.  In addition, this is not a “come when you feel like it” course.  Everyone is expected to show up and to participate.  If you cannot agree to these terms, you should consider your enrollment in this course.  Ways you can earn a low grade in this category include: being consistently late to class, leaving early, playing with your cell phone/text messaging, taking extended breaks in the middle of class, failing to keep up with the reading, handing in and/or posting assignments after they are due without obtaining my permission first. Conversely, exemplary attendance and participation will earn you a high grade.

Online Forums

Forum Questions:  Sometime during the semester you will be required to formulate and post a question about the assigned reading.  Students will have the option of responding to your question as one of the weekly forum assignments.

Forum Assignment: Each week you will post a paragraph on a bulletin board on ANGEL. Your paragraph will either be in response to a question formulated by one of your classmates or a response to a classmate’s post.  Postings will be graded on the basis of content and presentation (in other words, spelling, sentence structure, and organization count).  Postings that consist of thoughtful, honest, and clear analysis of the text (not summary) will earn the highest grade.

A few things to remember about postings:

  • Posting more than once will not hurt your grade for the week.  However, quantity is not a substitute for quality.  The quality of your postings will determine your grade.
  • Your postings will be graded 4 times during the semester (eg. week 2-4, 5-7, 8-10, 11-14).  The final grade for the postings will be an average of your 3 highest grades.

The Research Assignment: Early in the semester I will place you in a group.  Each group will be assigned a number of essays relevant to a particular topic (eg. modesty and courtship) and a particular novel.  Your responsibility is to summarize one of the assigned essays (3 pp. max) and to post your summary on ANGEL. Then, as a group, you will pool your findings and teach a class in which you discuss the topic as it pertains to:

  1. The period under consideration in the novel
  2. The novel itself (in other words, you’ll need to ask how the issue is represented by the author)

*** NOTE: hardcopies of all work for this course must be typed and double-spaced.

*** NOTE: All work must be handed in on time.  Unless I give you an extension, I will deduct 1/2 of a grade for each day the assignment is overdue.

***NOTE:  Please come to class on time.  Repeatedly arriving late will affect your grade as will repeated absences.

For more from this author, please see the essay in the Pedagogy section of this issue.

Nora Nachumi

Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn is a pseudonym for ABOPublic. This is not the real Aphra Behn—she died in 1688, and the world hasn't been the same since!
Aphra Behn

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