Twain maskBehind a Mask: Fakes, Frauds, and Fictions of Identity in Nineteenth-Century America
Fall 2012  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:25-2:40, CUE 318   


Dr. Donna Campbell,
357 Avery ,509-335-4831
Office Hours: 9-10, 12-1 T, Th and by appointment.
Virtual Office Hours via Google Chat or Skype; email me for information.

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 Goals and Objectives

The goals for students in the course are as follows:

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
Alcott, Louisa May Behind a Mask 2004 Harper Perennial/
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 8/21 Introduction  

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

2 8/28 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
3 9/4 Alcott, Behind a Mask (all)  
  9/6 Moby-Dick (chapters 1-16)
Reading and discussion questions
Weblog post 2
4 9/11 Moby-Dick (chapters 17-53)
  9/13 Moby-Dick ( chapters 54-77)
Weblog post 3
5 9/18 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.

Moby-Dick, chapters 78-97

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

Short paper 1 due
Weblog post 4

6 9/25 Moby-Dick, chapters 98-123


Moby-Dick, chapters 124-135
Assigned essays on Moby-Dick (in-class signup)



Weblog post 5

7 10/2 Visit to the MASC  
  10/4 Research day--no class  
8 10/9 Exam 1  
  10/11 Research Day--no class

Weblog post 6
Short Paper 2 due in Angel

9 10/16 Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (chapters 1-15) Reports

Pudd'nhead Wilson (chapters 16-conclusion)

Weblog post 7
10 10/23 Norris, McTeague (chapters 1-8)  

Norris, McTeague (chapters 9-19)

Weblog post 8
11 10/30 Norris, McTeague (chapter 20-end) and critical essays (sign up in class) Reports

Wharton, The House of Mirth (Book 1: 1-9)

12 11/6

Wharton, The House of Mirth (Book 1:10-Book 2:4)


Wharton, The House of Mirth (to end)

Weblog post 9
Paper 3 (Optional paper) Due
13 11/13 Laptop Day: Wharton in Critical Context & Precis Presentations Precis assignment due in class. Bring a paper copy to class with you.
  11/15 Laptop Day: Wharton in Popular Context Weblog post 10
14 11/19-23 Thanksgiving Week: No Class  
15 11/27 Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (chapters 1-8) Optional Weblog post 11
  11/29 Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, (chapters 9-11) Paper 4 due
16 12/4 Presentations  
  12/6 Presentations  
17 12/14 Exam 2 1:00-3:00 p.m.  

Requirements and Assignments

Attendance is expected, as is class participation; both are essential parts of the course. You have four free absences; a fifth unexcused absence means that you 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 the following

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

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 an electronic copy 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_ClassNumber_Papernumber. Example: If Joan Smith turns in her first paper, the file would be called SmithJ_368_Paper1.doc.

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.
  • Exams. This course has two exams. Exams in this course will consist of objective (multiple choice, short answer, matching) questions, identification questions, and an essay written in class. Exams cannot be made up without a doctor's note.

    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 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 second 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.

    WSU Midterm Policy. Based on ASWSU student requests and action by the Faculty Senate, WSU has recently instituted Academic Rule 88, which stipulates that all students will receive midterm grades. Midterm grades are not binding, and because the bulk of the graded work in this course occurs after the midterm point, it can only accurately reflect student performance up to that point.

    WSU defines a "C" grade as "satisfactory," and those whose grades at midterm are in the "satisfactory" range or above (A, B, or C) will receive a "C" for the midterm grade [or will receive no listed grade at midterm]. Those whose performance is deficient (D) or seriously deficient (F) will receive a D or F.

    This does not mean that your grade is a "C" but that your grade is in the satisfactory range (A, B, or C) and that there are no significant deficiencies noted up to that point.

    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 need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please either visit or call the Access Center (Washington Building 217; 509-335-3417) to schedule an appointment with an Access Advisor. All accommodations MUST be approved through the Access Center.

    Safety Policy. See also 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 (exams, 10% each) 20 percent
    Short papers (2 at 15% each) 30 percent
    Report or weblog 10 percent
    Precis 5 percent
    Longer Paper or Project (20%) plus presentation (5%) 25 percent
    Quizzes, class participation, group presentations, and in-class writings 10 percent

    Grading Criteria

    Literary Studies Paper Rubric:
    Literary Studies Paper Rubric with Possible Points

    A note on the evaluation process in this course: Each piece of written work, from an essay on an exam to a formal paper, starts as a "0" and rises to one of the levels listed below based on the quality of its ideas, development, and writing. Thus your writing does not start from an "A" and "lose points" based on certain errors; instead, grading starts from a baseline and points are added based on the quality of your work. Think of the grading scheme as you would think of a game or a job. You don't start with a perfect score (or a high salary) and lose points by making errors; rather, you start from a baseline and gain points based on the quality of your skills as demonstrated by your performance. The same is true here.

    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:

    Grade Percentages

    100 15 25 35 50 75 125 150   500  
    A 0.93 15 13.95 25 23.25 35 32.55 50 46.5 75 69.75 125 116.25 150 139.5 500 465
    A/A- 0.926 15 13.89 25 23.15 35 32.41 50 46.3 75 69.45 125 115.75 150 138.9 500 463
    A- 0.9 15 13.5 25 22.5 35 31.5 50 45 75 67.5 125 112.5 150 135 500 450
    B+ 0.88 15 13.2 25 22 35 30.8 50 44 75 66 125 110 150 132 500 440
    B/B+ 0.876 15 13.14 25 21.9 35 30.66 50 43.8 75 65.7 125 109.5 150 131.4 500 438
    B 0.83 15 12.45 25 20.75 35 29.05 50 41.5 75 62.25 125 103.75 150 124.5 500 415
    B/B- 0.826 15 12.39 25 20.65 35 28.91 50 41.3 75 61.95 125 103.25 150 123.9 500 413
    B- 0.8 15 12 25 20 35 28 50 40 75 60 125 100 150 120 500 400
    C+ 0.78 15 11.7 25 19.5 35 27.3 50 39 75 58.5 125 97.5 150 117 500 390
    C/C+ 0.776 15 11.64 25 19.4 35 27.16 50 38.8 75 58.2 125 97 150 116.4 500 388
    C 0.73 15 10.95 25 18.25 35 25.55 50 36.5 75 54.75 125 91.25 150 109.5 500 365
    C/C- 0.726 15 10.89 25 18.15 35 25.41 50 36.3 75 54.45 125 90.75 150 108.9 500 363
    C- 0.7 15 10.5 25 17.5 35 24.5 50 35 75 52.5 125 87.5 150 105 500 350
    D+ 0.68 15 10.2 25 17 35 23.8 50 34 75 51 125 85 150 102 500 340
    D/D+ 0.676 15 10.14 25 16.9 35 23.66 50 33.8 75 50.7 125 84.5 150 101.4 500 338
    D 0.63 15 9.45 25 15.75 35 22.05 50 31.5 75 47.25 125 78.75 150 94.5 500 315
    D/D- 0.626 15 9.39 25 15.65 35 21.91 50 31.3 75 46.95 125 78.25 150 93.9 500 313
    D- 0.6 15 9 25 15 35 21 50 30 75 45 125 75 150 90 500 300