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English 368 Behind a Mask: Fakes, Frauds, and Fictions of Identity in Nineteenth-Century America

Printable syllabus (.pdf)

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:25-2:40 p.m., Thompson 24

Dr. Donna Campbell
Avery 357 • 335-4831
Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 12-1 p.m. and by appointment
Facebook, IM, and Twitter: drcampbell6676

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?

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 (available at Crimson & Gray or from online booksellers, not at the Bookie) 1964 Signet/ 0451523741 or 9780451530745
Gates, Henry L., ed. Three Classic African American Novels (Iola Leroy) 1990 Vintage / 0679727426
Alcott, Louisa May Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers Of Louisa May Alcott 1997 Harper Perennial / 0688151329
Norris, Frank McTeague 1996 Norton Critical/ 0393970132
James, Henry Daisy Miller 1995 Dover / 0486287734
Ridge, John Rollin (Yellow Bird) Joaquin Murieta 1977 U of Oklahoma P / 0806114290
Howells, William Dean The Rise of Silas Lapham 1983 Penguin / 0140390308
Hawthorne, Nathaniel The Blithedale Romance 1983 Penguin / 0140390286
Wharton, Edith The House of Mirth 2005

Broadview / 1551115670


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. The numbers in parentheses are page numbers. You should read each day's assignment carefully and come to class prepared to discuss it.


Date Reading Writing Assignments
1 1/12 Introduction  

Alcott, "Transcendental Wild Oats" (online)
, The Blithedale Romance (1-80)
Reading and discussion questions

2 1/19 The Blithedale Romance (81-193)  
  1/21 The Blithedale Romance (194-247)
Weblog post 1
3 1/26 Meet in AML 105  
  1/28 Ridge, Joaquin Murieta (1-100)
Reading and discussion questions
Weblog post 2
4 2/2 Joaquin Murieta (100-157)  
  2/4 Alcott, "Behind a Mask" (3-104) Weblog post 3
5 2/9 James, Daisy Miller (all)
Reading and discussion questions
  2/11 Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham (3-136)
Reading and discussion questions
Weblog post 4
6 2/16 Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham (137-365)
  2/18 Meet in the MASC
Weblog post 5
Paper 1 prospectus due by email
7 2/23 Midterm  
  2/25 Workshop for Paper 1 Bring typed, printed draft of Paper 1
8 3/2 Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1-113) Paper 1 due
  3/4 Pudd'nhead Wilson (113-171) Weblog post 6
9 3/9 Harper, Iola Leroy (227-401 in Gates, Three Classic African American Novels) Reports
  3/11 Iola Leroy (401-463) Weblog post 7
10 3/15-19 Spring Break  
11 3/23 Norris, McTeague (3-143)  

McTeague (143-243)

Weblog post 8
12 3/30

McTeague (critical essays)


Greed (film)

Prospectus for Paper 2
Weblog post 9
13 4/6 Wharton, The House of Mirth (37-147) Precis assignment due in class
  4/8 Wharton, The House of Mirth (147-247) Weblog post 10
14 4/13 Wharton, The House of Mirth (247-369)  
  4/15 No class Optional Weblog post 11
15 4/20 Wharton, The House of Mirth (introduction and contextual essays)  
  4/22 Discussion and Presentations Paper 2 due
16 4/27 Presentations  
  4/29 Presentations  
17 5/6 Final Exam, 1:00-3:00 Exam 2 (Final)

Course Policies and Requirements

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. Class participation is important. If you have questions about the day's reading, don't hesitate to ask; chances are good that someone else had the same question. Reading and discussion questions are available for most of the books; click on the author links or to find the questions for the novel we are discussing.
  • Books. Bringing your book with you is an essential part of class participation, and print books are preferred. Your class participation grade will be lowered if you do not bring your book to class. Although the book list is composed of inexpensive editions, most of which can be purchased used, you may be thinking about using online versions of some of these novels; if you do, you will need to bring your laptop, Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, or whatever to class with you. Books are preferable, especially since downloaded free versions will not work for all texts in this class. The paperback version of McTeague has a different text from any available online version (except the Kindle version), and you must get the book to read the essays in the Norton Critical and Broadview editions.
  • Electronics. Giving your full attention to the material and to your classmates' comments raises the level of learning for everyone in a discussion-based class such as English 368. Please keep your cell phone off during class unless you have a family emergency. Although you may use your laptop to take notes if you wish, students with laptops often participate less in class discussions, which results in a lower class participation grade. Common sense and courtesy should tell you that activities such as texting, twittering, Facebooking, and so on during class are distracting to everyone, so if you'd prefer to engage in those activities, please don't come to class.
  • 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 Disability Resource Center (DRC). All accommodations MUST be approved through the DRC (Washington Building, Room 217). Please stop by or call 509-335-3417 to make an appointment with a disability specialist.


  • Formal Papers. Students in this class will write two formal papers, a short (5-7 pages) analytical interpretation of one of the novels, and a longer analytical paper (10-12 pages) 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.
  • Electronic Version. You will need to turn in a computer-readable version (as a Word or .rtf attachment) of your paper by e-mailing it to me in addition to, or instead of, turning in a paper version. Your paper will not be graded and you will not receive any credit for the paper until I receive the electronic version.
  • 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.
  • If you do not turn in a paper, you will receive a 0 for that portion of your grade. Papers received after four class days will receive 50 points but will not be formally graded.
  • You have one 48-hour extension in this class. This extension means that your paper will be due on the next class day, which could be more than 48 hours, without penalty.You must request the extension ahead of time, and you should save it for a true emergency, since no other extensions will be granted for illness, funerals, weddings, or any other reason.
  • 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.

  • For a first offense, any paper plagiarized in whole or in part will receive an "F" (0 points), and the incident must be reported to the WSU Office of Student ConductYou will NOT be allowed to rewrite the plagiarized paper for a better grade.
  • Penalties for a second offense can range from failing the course to suspension from the university.
  • 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.
  • Exams

    The midterm and final exams in this course will consist of objective (multiple choice, short answer, matching) and identification questions and an essay. Exams cannot be made up without a doctor's note. If you want to complete a weblog AND a report, you have the option not to take the final exam. The midterm is not optional.

    Other Work

  • Quizzes. Frequent, unannounced quizzes over the reading will be given in this class. They cannot be made up, even if you are absent because of illness, but the lowest quiz grade will be dropped. Quizzes are usually given in the first 10 minutes of class; if you come in late and the quiz is in progress, you will not be able to take the quiz. An optional quiz will be given as a universal "make-up" quiz at the end of the semester.
  • 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 and critique it. You can find the précis assignment at
  • Reports and Weblogs

    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 weblog 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.

  • You'll sign up for a report or a weblog in class. See the Reports and Weblogs pages for more details.
  • To make the schedule updatable and available to all, it will be posted at the link above with your names on it. Weblogs will also be linked from our main page, which will contain the names of class webloggers. Because the point of the weblog is to share your thoughts with others in the class, our main class site will contain a link with your name as part of the requirement.
  • If you have any privacy concerns (under FERPA) about having people know that you are in this class or do not want your name posted anywhere on our class site, you should choose the Reports option instead; you'l also need to write to me (on paper) requesting that your name be omitted from the Reports page.
  • Grade Distribution. Note: 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 15 percent
    Quizzes, class participation, group presentations, and in-class writings 10 percent