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

From Haywood’s Fantomina to Davys’s Coquet: Amatory Fiction; w/Clarification of Reading Log Post

  1. First of all, thanks for your patience this week. I’m still trying to figure out how to conduct an online grad seminar, and you are helping me do that.
  2. First of all, the reading for the weekend is Davys’s Reform’d Coquet: or, the Memoirs of Amoranda (1724) a year earlier than Haywood’s Fantomina (1725).
  3. You’ll see that they share a few characteristics: a “coquet” heroine who enjoys masculine attention a little too much; plenty of episodes of sexually coded “variety” and freedom permitting her to enjoy fantasy and identity changes (coded as theatrical or via masquerade); a suggestion of sexual danger or threatened rape perceptible to reader if not coquet, if “things go too far”; a conclusion that shuts down the fantasy and freedom and teaches a lesson, if not to the coquet than to her readers.
  4. Brief critical readings: Toni Bowers on sex, lies, invisibility in amatory fiction, Jane Spencer on the “reformed heroine” tradition:

5. Weekend Assignment: Read and process the Haywood, Davys, Bowers, and Spencer texts in your reading log however you feel best. Reread. Take a passage from one of these texts or your notes and try to explain it further. What makes it important? How and why does it resonate with you?

Just do it as a comment to this post.

See you Monday,


Welcome to ENGL 8354: Jane Austen and her Reading

Hi everyone, this is the course blog we’ll be using all term as our discussion forum. I’ll be sending invitations to your Cougar net address, so please hit the links to create a WordPress username and password to join (not just follow) the blog. Email me (or post if you can) if you have any questions about the logistics of WordPress, Teams, etc.

Now for some announcements:

First: for our “soft opening,” we’ll do the first two classes of term via Teams, and then reassess to see how people feel about f2f (masked) and virtual (unmasked) seminar modes. You should have received your Teams invite by now.

Second: we’ll begin by reading Haywood’s Fantomina, which is extremely brief. I’ve linked to a free digital copy here:

Third: The syllabus contains another link to an open access text by Suzanne Akbari, How We Read, which offers essays on different modes and experiences of reading. Please download the book and look over Akbari’s Introduction along with Fantomina for the first class.

And here’s the syllabus:

We’ll discuss all of this on Teams tomorrow evening.

See you soon,