Behind a Mask: Fakes, Frauds, and Fictions of Identity in Nineteenth-Century America
Todd 411 * T-Th 2:50-4:05 p.m.

Dr. Donna Campbell
Avery 357 • 335-4831
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30-2
Alternate Wednesdays 12:30-2 (Sept. 7, 21; Oct. 5, 19; Nov. 2, 16)
You can also schedule meetings by appointment. I'm available in my office much of the day on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and alternate Wednesdays.
Virtual office hours: Contact me by email to set up a time for IM, Skype, or Google voice chat.

Printable version of this syllabus.

About the Course

The United States has always been a place, or has considered itself to be a place, in which people are free to reinvent themselves. For those who move to another territory or city and assume a new name, become outlaws or are escaping from a criminal past, or disguise themselves to pass as belonging to a race, social class, or gender not their own, identity is a fluid concept, not a fixed one. This course explores the diverse themes, social contexts, and intellectual backgrounds of the American novel from its beginnings in romantic tradition through the realist and naturalist movements of the late nineteenth century.  We’ll investigate the novels in terms of their formal properties as well as through social contexts and issues of race, class, and gender, but a larger question we’ll address involves American identity: how does this collection of works, which includes examples of cross-racial and cross-gender disguises,outlaws, artists, idealists, monomaniacs, prostitutes, and murderers, constitute a picture of nineteenth-century America? What concepts of individualism, equality, and justice do these authors portray, and to what extent does the reality of life in the U.S. meet the patriotic rhetoric about its ideas of freedom?

Course site:
Course blog:
We will use a few features of Angel,, but the materials are largely available on the course site.

Required Texts

Important: You need to bring your book with you to class each day. Having your book in class is a vital part of class participation: you'll be asked to read passages aloud, give page citations, and so forth. Reading the book online and then coming to class is not sufficient, and your class participation grade will be lower as a result. Because the introductions to these books often contain "spoilers," you need not read them until after you have finished the book.

Clemens, Samuel Pudd'nhead Wilson 2007 Signet / 978-0451530745
Frederic, Harold The Damnation of Theron Ware 2002 Modern Library / 978-0375760358
Johnson, James Weldon The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man 1995 Dover / 978-0486285122
Norris, Frank McTeague 1997 Norton Critical, 2nd. ed. / 978-0393970135
Melville, Herman Moby-Dick 2001 Norton Critical, 2nd ed. / 978-0393972832
Hawthorne, Nathaniel The Blithedale Romance 1983 Penguin / 978-0140390285
Wharton, Edith The House of Mirth 1984

Bantam / 978-0553213201

Schedule of Assignments. This is a tentative guide to the assignments; it may change as the course progresses. Most assignments are designed to have more reading over the weekend than between Tuesday's and Thursday's class. You should read each day's assignment carefully and come to class prepared to discuss it.


Date Reading Writing Assignments
1 8/23 Introduction  

Alcott, "Transcendental Wild Oats" (online)
, The Blithedale Romance (chapters 1-9)
Reading and discussion questions

2 8/30 The Blithedale Romance (chapters 10-22)  

The Blithedale Romance (chapters 23-29)

Laptop day: Bring laptop to class if you have one.

Weblog post 1
Group presentations
3 9/6 Moby-Dick (chapters 1-16)
Reading and discussion questions
  9/8 Moby-Dick (chapters 17-36) Reports
Weblog post 2
4 9/13 Moby-Dick (chapters 37-53)
Guest instructor: Amber LaPiana
  9/15 Moby-Dick ( chapters 54-77)
Guest instructor: Amber LaPiana
Weblog post 3
5 9/20 Moby-Dick, chapters 78-97

Moby-Dick, chapters 98-123

Laptop day: Bring laptop to class if you have one..
Bring to class at least one artifact from contemporary culture that refers to Moby-Dick in some way.

Weblog post 4
Paper 1
Group presentations
6 9/27 Moby-Dick, chapters 124-135
Assigned essays on Moby-Dick (in-class signup)


Workshop for Paper 1

Laptop day: Bring laptop to class if you have one.

Bring typed draft of paper to class. Print it out, since classmates will be reading it.

Weblog post 5

7 10/4 MASC (subject to scheduling) Paper 1 due
  10/6 Midterm  
8 10/11 Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (chapters 1-15) Reports
  10/13 Pudd'nhead Wilson (chapters 16-conclusion) Weblog post 6
9 10/18 Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (chapters 1-8)  

Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (chapters 9-11)

Laptop day: Bring laptop to class if you have one.

Weblog post 7
Group presentations
10 10/25 Frederic, The Damnation of Theron Ware (Books I & II)  
  10/27 Frederic, The Damnation of Theron Ware (Books III & IV) Weblog post 8
11 11/1 Norris, McTeague (chapters 1-8)  

Norris, McTeague (chapters 9-19)

12 11/8

Norris, McTeague (chapter 20-end) and critical essays (sign up in class)


Greed (film)

Prospectus for Paper 2
Weblog post 9
13 11/15 Wharton, The House of Mirth (Book 1: 1-9) Reports
Precis assignment due in class
  11/17 Wharton, The House of Mirth (Book 1:10-Book 2:4) Weblog post 10
14 11/21-25 Thanksgiving Week: No Class  
15 11/29

Wharton, The House of Mirth (to end)

Laptop day: Bring laptop to class if you have one.

Optional Weblog post 11

Group presentations

  12/1 Discussion and Presentations Paper 2 due
16 12/6 Presentations  
  12/8 Presentations  
17 12/15 Final Exam 10:10 a.m.-12:10 p.m. Exam 2 (Final)

Requirements and Assignments

Attendance and Class Participation.  Attendance is expected, as is class participation; both are essential parts of the course. You have four free absences; a fifth absence means that you may fail the course.

Class participation is important, and you should come to class prepared to discuss each day's reading. Since the syllabus is online, as are the readings not in your textbooks, you should have no trouble in reading the next day's assignments even if you're absent on the previous day. If you have questions about the day's reading, don't hesitate to ask; chances are good that someone else had the same question.

Because we will be reading and analyzing passages from the readings during the class period, bringing your book with you is an essential part of class participation and will count in your class participation grade. As mentioned above, reading the assignment online and then coming to class is not sufficient.

Formal Papers. Students in this class will write two formal papers, a short (5-7 pages, or about 1250-1800 words) analytical interpretation of one of the novels, and a longer analytical paper (8-10 pages, or 2000-2500 words) or project that will require some research. A list of paper topics will be handed out well before the papers are due.

Format. Papers must be neatly typed and carefully proofread. Citations should follow MLA style as outlined in the MLA Handbook, Bedford Handbook, or other such guides. See more formatting guidelines at this link:

Electronic Version. Paper versions of papers (hard copies) are due at the beginning of class on the deadline date. If you prefer, you can upload it to Angel ( by 9 p.m. on the deadline date. Either a paper version or an electronic version is acceptable; paper versions will receive handwritten comments, and electronic versions will receive typed comments in the margins. Electronic versions will be returned through Angel in .pdf format.

If you upload your paper, name your file as follows: LastnameFirstinitial_Papernumber. Example: If Joan Smith turns in her first paper, the file would be called SmithJ_368_Paper1.doc.

I will use abbreviations as references to grammatical principles on your corrected papers. The abbreviations and accompanying explanations are available on the "Key to Comments" document here:

Late Papers and Extensions. Late papers are penalized at the rate of one letter grade (10 points) per class day late; a paper that would have received a "B" on Tuesday will receive a "C" if handed in on Thursday.

Midterm and Final Exams. The midterm and final exams in this course will consist of objective (multiple choice, short answer, matching) and identification questions and an essay.

Quizzes. Unannounced quizzes over the reading will be given frequently in this class. The quizzes test your specific knowledge of the reading assignment for that day and sometimes ask about information from a previous day's class discussion or lecture. For example, you might be asked the name of a character, the meaning of a term discussed in the previous class, the character associated with a particular quotation, or the results of a specific action that occurs in a scene. Their purpose is to reinforce your close reading of the material by asking you about significant points in the book.

In-class writing and short assignments. Short, typed responses to the reading may be assigned from time to time, as will short pieces of in-class writing.

Précis. One of the out-of-class assignments will be to write a précis of a journal article. You can find the précis assignment at

Reports and Blogs. Students in this class will either present a brief oral report to the class or keep an online journal (weblog) of their reading this semester. Both options will should involve about the same amount of work, but with the blog option, you'll be spreading the work out over the entire semester. Those who choose both to present a report and to keep a weblog will not have to take the final exam.


Plagiarism Policy. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of someone else's words or ideas. This definition includes not only deliberately handing in someone else's work as your own but failing to cite your sources, including Web pages and Internet sources.

WSU Statement on Academic Integrity. As an institution of higher education, Washington State University is committed to principles of truth and academic honesty. All members of the University community share the responsibility for maintaining and supporting these principles. When a student enrolls in Washington State University, the student assumes an obligation to pursue academic endeavors in a manner consistent with the standards of academic integrity adopted by the University. To maintain the academic integrity of the community, the University cannot tolerate acts of academic dishonesty including any forms of cheating, plagiarism, or fabrication. Washington State University reserves the right and the power to discipline or to exclude students who engage in academic dishonesty.

Electronics Policy. Recent studies have shown that people remember material better when they take notes by hand rather than on the computer, since typing on the computer tends to produce a transcription rather than the kind of selective note-taking that leads to understanding. Also, students participate more actively when they are not using a laptop, which benefits their class participation grade, and there are fewer distractions in the classroom without laptops. The following policies thus apply in this class:

WSU Policy on Students with Disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and may need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please visit the Access Center. All accommodations MUST be approved through the Access Center (Washington Building, Room 217). Please stop by or call 509-335-3417 to make an appointment with an Access Advisor.

Safety Policy. Read the WSU Safety Policy ( and Safety Plan (

General Grading Criteria: List available at

Because of FERPA and privacy issues, no grades will be discussed or transmitted by e-mail or instant messaging.

Exams (15 percent each) 30 percent
Paper 1 15 percent
Paper or Project 2 plus presentation 25 percent
Precis 5 percent
Report or Weblog (10 posts @2 points + 10 replies @1 point=30 total) 15 percent
Quizzes, class participation, group presentations, and in-class writings 10 percent