English 4990: Religious Enthusiasm and Toleration in Romantic-Era Fiction


English 4990: Religious Enthusiasm and Toleration in Romantic-Era Fiction

Daniel Schierenbeck, University of Central Missouri

Required Texts and Materials

Hamilton, Elizabeth. Translations of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah. Ed. Pamela Perkins and Shannon Russell. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 1999.

Hogg, James. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Ed. Adrian Hunter. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2001.

Lucas, Charles. The Infernal Quixote: A Tale of the Day. Ed. M.O. Grenby. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2004.

Owenson, Sydney (Lady Morgan). The Missionary. Ed. Julia M. Wright. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2002.

Scott, Sir Walter. The Tale of Old Mortality. Ed. Douglas S. Mack. London: Penguin, 1999.

Shelley, Mary. Valperga. Ed. Tillottama Rajan. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 1998.


Course Description

The Romantic era was a time of revolution—political, industrial, and aesthetic—and a time of religious controversy. Indeed, various political debates were marked, defined, and regulated through religious difference. In this course, we will explore two poles of representation: religious enthusiasm and toleration. By exploring religious debates within Romantic-era fiction, we will analyze how a range of novels can respond to a specific, complex topic—a topic that reverberates through and indeed structures debates on gender, politics, colonialism, and a host of other concerns. Students, then, will gain an understanding of Romantic-era fiction and how it mediates particular social and political concerns.


Student Requirements

Responses (20%): To help you become a more active reader and a more engaged participant in classroom discussion, you will complete at least six informal response papers. These responses must be at least one and a half pages long and must be typed. Response papers are informed records of your initial or predominant reaction to a text. You should look for aspects of the text that generated strong feelings in you (pleasure, hatred, confusion, depression, etc.) and explore how your set of assumptions, values, and practices of reading—which are informed by your experiences as a reader and as a human being—either conflict with or mesh with the assumptions, values, and ideas of the text. I also may occasionally give you specific questions that may guide your responses. The responses are due on the same day that we discuss the aspect of the reading that you have chosen. Due dates for these assignments are left up to you, but you must submit at least three responses before October 9 and at least one response per novel.

Group Report (20%): You will give one oral presentation along with two of your peers. After signing up for a general topic, your group should consult me with me for more specific directives about the content of the presentation. You will be expected to provide background information on the topics under consideration, but you also need to connect this background information to the relevant texts that we are studying. You should focus on presenting the material in an informative and interesting way. The class will be relying on you for this crucial information, so your group needs to be able to synthesize a large amount of information and present it in a concise and engaging manner. Also, you will need to do some outside research for this project. For help in locating sources, consult the works cited in your Broadview editions, a reference librarian, and me. You are also encouraged to supply handouts and to employ audiovisual devices—use anything that will make your teaching successful. On the day of your presentation, you will turn in a bibliography of all the sources that you used. Your presentation should take about 15 minutes, after which we will have time for questions.

Final Exam (30%): The comprehensive final will be on the texts and contexts of Romantic-era fiction. The final exam will consist of identifications and an essay.

Paper (30%): For the research project for this class you will complete a 12-15 page introduction to one of the novels listed below. This introduction is designed to help a modern reader understand the importance of this novel. You will want to include some biographical material. For some authors, like Godwin, plenty of material can be found. For other authors, however, you will find helpful biographical information in sources such as the Dictionary of National Biography, Dale Spender's Mothers of the Novel, Janet Todd's A Dictionary of British and American Women Writers, 1660-1800, and Joanne Shattock's The Oxford Guide to British Women Writers. Your introduction should also situate this novel within the context of the Romantic era. To do so, you should include how the novel is responding to particular social, political, or aesthetic debates as well as how it might be compared or contrasted to other novels that we have read for this course (or that you might know of). Finally, a good introduction will also lay out significant themes and ideas that this author addresses. You will need to include a works cited page, but you should also provide a list of additional reading that will be helpful for your readers. You may choose one novel from the following list (Mary Brunton's Discipline or Self-Control; William Godwin's Mandeville; Anna Maria Porter's Don Sebastian; Jane West's A Tale of the Times or The Loyalist) or consult me for further choices. The introductions are due during the last week of class. Please post electronic versions of your introductions to Blackboard at least 48 hours before the class period in which we discuss your text.


Class Schedule

*Denotes reading found in reserve at James C. Kirpatrick Library. For reserve readings, unless specific page numbers are provided, please read the entire chapter or section.

Week 1

R 8/23: Introduction to Course; Introduction to Romantic Era

Week 2

T 8/28: Robert M. Ryan, "A Sect of Dissenters"* (13-30); Alec R. Vidler, "Christianity in England, 1790-1830"*

R 8/30: Jon Mee, "Introduction: Situating Enthusiasm;"* Lucas, The Infernal Quixote

Week 3

T 9/4: Mee, "Enthusiasm, Liberty, and Benevolence in the 1790s"* (82-109); Lucas, The Infernal Quixote

R 9/6: Lucas, The Infernal Quixote; Hannah More, Chapters One and Two of An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World*

Week 4

T 9/11: Lucas, The Infernal Quixote

Group Report: The Irish Rebellion of 1798

R 9/13: Hamilton, Translations of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah

Group Report: Warren Hastings or the Rohilla War

Week 5

T 9/18: Hamilton, Translations of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah; Thomas Macaulay, "Government of India" (543-58)*

R 9/20: Hamilton, Translations of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah; More, Chapter Six of An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World*

Week 6

T 9/25: Hamilton, Translations of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah; Anne K. Mellor, "Hannah More, Revolutionary Reformer;"* Lisa Wood, "Narrative Authority: Antirevolutionary Women Writers and Literary 'Voice'"*

R 9/27: Owenson, The Missionary

Group Report: Vellore Mutiny and Sepoy Revolt

Week 7

T 10/2: Owenson, The Missionary; Macaulay, "Government of India"* (558-86)

R 10/4: Owenson, The Missionary

Week 8

T 10/9: Owenson, The Missionary

R 10/11: Scott, Old Mortality

Group Report: The Covenanters

Week 9

T 10/16: Scott, Old Mortality

Group Report: The Peterloo Massacre

R 10/18: Scott, Old Mortality; Iain McCalman, "Blasphemous Chapels: The Preacher as Insurrectionary, 1818-20"*

Week 10

T 10/23: Scott, Old Mortality

R 10/25: Scott, Old Mortality

Week 11

T 10/30: Shelley, Valperga

Group Report: Castruccio and Italian Republics

R 11/1: Shelley, Valperga; Hume, "Enthusiasm and Superstition"*

Week 12

T 11/6: Shelley, Valperga; McCalman, "The Ultra-Radical March of Mind: Politics, Religion, and Respectability"*

R 11/8: Shelley, Valperga

Week 13

T 11/13: Shelley, Valperga

R 11/15: Hogg, Confessions; Douglas Mack, "'The Rage of Fanaticism in Former Days': James Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner and the Controversy over Old Mortality"

Week 14

T 11/20: Hogg, Confessions

R 11/22: No Class-Thanksgiving

Week 15

T 11/27: Hogg, Confessions

R 11/29: Hogg, Confessions

Week 16

T 12/4: Brunton and Porter introductions due

W 12/6: West and Godwin introductions due

Week 17

T 12/11: Final Exam ( 8:00-10:00 )