Frances Burney, Evelina

Hope everyone had a good break.

This week for Evelina I’d like each of you to prepare for class a passage and a question that shows, in one way or another, the characteristic differences between Burney and Richardson, even though both write epistolary, sentimental fiction centered around a heroine’s plight. So in terms of characterization, plot, setting, dialogue, etc., how and why do they differ, and what do those differences reveal about their purposes as writers?

Each of you will be swapping and answering each others’ questions in class (not your own).

See you tomorrow,



Final Clarissa Blogging Assignment

Since we’ll be reading through to the end this weekend, 883-1499, I would like you to take your annotated bibliography topic and write a brief synthetic reflection about it in light of the novel’s progress to the conclusion. It need not be more than 300-500 words. Please have this submitted before classtime.

I’m giving another talk Monday evening, so we’ll be wrapping up early.

Take care, and see you Monday,


Annotated Bibliography, Clarissa, 411-883

I like to assign annotated bibliographies in my classes because they help students gain some sense of mastery over their reading, push them towards different interpretations than they might ordinarily pursue, or help them recognize common threads in the historical-critical responses.

Here’s my description and rationale for the first annotated bib assignment:

  1. Review and, if necessary, selectively reread Richardson 411-883 (yes, what was assigned for last week), to see which portions you might wish to focus upon.
  2. Go through a similar review process with your previous blog posts, class notes, reading journals, and the secondary criticism we’ve excerpted for class discussion.  You are encouraged to read and reflect upon your classmates’ posts as well. Have there been any areas that interested you since we began?  Inquiries begun with one author that another author seemed to follow up?  Questions that you’d like to pursue further, either in relation to the original author or on a broader scale?
  3. Choose a topic that allows you to reconstruct a broader critical or cultural context for understanding Richardson’s work.  The focus should remain on Richardson, though you may also consider SR in relation to one or both of the two earlier authors.  This topic could be literary generic (e.g., amatory fiction and its formal conventions of plot, characterization, etc.); it could be social-historical (practices of marriage, courtship, and child-rearing; sexual violence and/or prostitution; social class or rank; etc.); political (traces of party conflict and/or political history in characterization) or philosophic (questions of autonomy or identity) and so forth.
  4. You are also free to use the keyword clusters I’ve suggested for brainstorming topics or keywords:
    1. Love, Sexuality, Property
    2. Class, Rank, Legitimacy
    3. Morality, Sensibility, Indifference
    4. Happiness and/or Pleasure
  5. Gather together a limited, selective bibliography featuring 2 items on your topic: 2 articles, gathered from MLA Bibliography, Project Muse (req. Muse acct/signin), or JSTOR, pre- and post-1985.  Your topic should offer a critical context for reading Clarissa.
  6. Briefly annotate each item with about 3-5 sentences.
  7. For models, see, e.g., this explanation from the Purdue OWL. There are lots of other guides to annotated bibs online.
  8. Post this online by Monday morning before class, and be prepared to talk about your research, what we’ve learned, and your latest questions about this initial grouping of novels and novelists. [For posting, see this link in WP help.]

Any questions?  Put them up on the blog.  I’m also happy to chime in with suggestions if you get stuck.  Good luck, DM

DM demo: How to Post an Image

Hit “Write” button in top right corner
Go to Write Post Page, Create Title
Click the black + box and choose Add Image icon
When the Image Box appears, choose Upload Option for your image on your computer drive
Upload image from your chosen drive
This is my extremely crude starter image for Clarissa
This is how the uploaded image will appear in your Add Post space; hit the Publish button in right top corner
You’ll get an Are you Sure prompt, say yes twice
Hit View Post to see what it looks like; to add a paragraph or so explaining your choices and what they tell us about this text, just hit the black plus box and choose paragraph icon to get normal text

If this is confusing (WP can sometimes feel unnecessarily complex), then take a look at this guide to Posts from the WordPress Support page, accessible from the Question mark icon in the right bottom corner of the Write Post page:

Thanks, DM

Clarissa, wk 3, p. 410-883

Abduction to Rape

This week we will continue to read the novel to see where it drives–and is driven by–its characters. Read in the manner you find most suitable for this kind of novel and plot, take notes, and be prepared to describe concretely how this portion of the novel affected you.

For the weekend blogging post, I’m asking you to assemble 3-4 key passages from this segment, organized however you think is appropriate. Please create some kind of visualization* of their relations to one another, in terms of plot, character, setting, theme, etc.. Post the image of your visualization to the blog by Monday at classtime, and be prepared to discuss your passages and visualization.

*By visualization I do not mean anything fancy or polished: an Iphone picture of a colored pencil or marker or crayon drawing is fine; so is a photo of a whiteboard set of squiggles and dotted and solid lines; so is a diagram produced by powerpoint or excel or some other app. The idea is simply to get us thinking about these passages differently, and confront one another with a variety of mental maps or relations for discussion.

You are welcome to use my own thematic clusters for your collecting, or revise them or devise your own.

1.  Love, Sexuality, Property

2.  Class, Rank, Legitimacy

3.  Morality, Sensibility, Indifference

4.  Happiness and/or Pleasure

I’m going to hold off assigning more secondary criticism until we get further into the text. I’ll talk about this more in class on Monday, since I do have an assignment focused on the secondary criticism coming up.

See you soon,


Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), Clarissa (1747-8), class 2

Arguments and Abduction (148-410)

We will read from p. 148-410, and focus this week on reading Clarissa and maintaining the reading journal.

As you read this portion of the novel, keep a list of passages related to a particular character, or one of the thematic clusters, or both:

1.  Love, Sexuality, Property

2.  Class, Rank, Legitimacy

3.  Morality, Sensibility, Indifference

4.  Happiness and/or Pleasure

Before Monday’s class, post the most important, most pivotal passage for this character or thematic cluster. We’ll discuss your lists in class.

Take care, and see you Monday on Teams.


Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), Clarissa (1747-8),

Class 1: Preface and Scene-Setting (1-148)

Hi folks,

Thanks for a great seminar on Monday. As I mentioned in class, we’ll continue another week on Teams next week, and continue to reassess as we go along.

As for our reading, we’ll begin slowly with Clarissa and then speed up as we go along. We’ll read the first 148 pp of the Penguin edition of Clarissa for Monday, and you should continue to keep a journal of your reading and responses along the way.

In class Thursday, we’ll read as a group the Preface, including the Principal Characters (35-8), then the first 31 letters, and conclude with the first letter of Lovelace to Belford (142-8).

For your next blog assignment, I’d like you to mine your reading journals to talk about the transition from amatory fiction (Bowers) to a more “circumstantial realist” presentation (Watt) in SR. You might also want to think about the extent that SR might want us to recognize Clarissa’s characterization as potentially offering a ““reform’d coquet” (Spencer) style narrative (with other characters perceiving her this way) and then showing this reading of her to be wrong. (For Bowers and Spencer, see last week‘s critical readings)

For “circumstantial realism” see Ian Watt, Rise of the Novel excerpt, here:

Hit the comment button on the left hand column (or the “leave a reply” box) and discuss what you noticed in the transition in a paragraph or so, along with some textual evidence taken from the texts you discuss. You are free to use the Bowers, Watt, or Spencer selections, or not, in your responses below.

Good luck,


UPDATE: Please have these posted by Monday morning, so we can all read and review them before classtime. Thanks, DM