Saturday, January 22, 2011

For Credit: The Narrator and Beauplaisir

Note that the story of Fantomina (as we'll call her) is related by a third person narrator.  Some unnamed, unspecified voice tells the story of who Fantomina is, what she does, where she goes.  That narrator doesn't have as much to say about Beauplaisir, but the narrator does, inevitably, relate his role in the story as well.

What is the narrator's attitude toward Beauplaisir?   How does the telling of the story nudge the reader to interpret his actions?  Here are three possible ways to describe the depiction of Beauplaisir:

1. Beauplaisir is a dog, scumbag, name it.  Whatever you think of Fantomina's shenanigans, Beauplaisir deserved to be played like she played him.

2. Boys will be boys.  What can you do?

3. Boys will be boys--but Beauplaisir is a pretty upstanding guy, considering the circumstances.

Does one of these possibilities accurately convey your sense of what Haywood is doing with her male character?  If so, which one?  Or would you like to suggest a different way of understanding this character?  You can start the conversation by writing a couple of sentences to support your choice (it's a good idea to include a quote or two from the story that will back up your claims).  Or you can take issue with someone else's response (kindly and collegially, please!

Keep in mind that the way you judge Beauplaisir may not be the way that Haywood (or the eighteenth-century reader) judges him.  For that reason you need to be attentive to the tone and precise wording of the passages that you consider in forming your response. 

Deadline: Monday, 1/24, start of class.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Questions about the Syllabus or Course Requirements?

Feel free to ask your questions in response to this post--that way your classmates will get the benefit of the answer (and know they're not alone in their puzzlement).

Fantomina on the Web

If you do not yet have a copy of the Longman anthology, you can find another edition of Eliza Haywood's Fantomina here.  By all means, get a copy of the Longman anthology as soon as you can. In the meantime, you can use the online version to stay on top of the reading (but please print it out and bring the hard copy to class with you--I do not allow laptops or Ipads or other electronic doo-dads in class).

For Credit: First Reactions to Fantomina

Eliza Haywood

 Respond to this post with some first reactions to Eliza Haywood's Fantomina:
  • What surprises, annoys, or interests you about this novella?
  • What questions do you have about it?
  • What specific passages or episodes are you finding difficult to understand?
  • What issues relating to it would you like to see discussed in class?
Your response shouldn't answer all those questions--you can pick any one of them as a starting point for your own reflections, or you can respond (kindly and collegially) to a classmate's ideas.

Deadline: start of class on Friday (1/21).

Monday, January 17, 2011

The First Week of Class

The Syllabus

I'll be e-mailing everyone the syllabus, but there are two places to find it throughout the semester (apart from clicking on the links embedded in this paragraph. There's a linked blog page with the syllabus over there in the sidebar, in the "Pages" box. The formatting of the tables is a little wonky, though--so it's best to use it if you just want to check something quickly while you're online. If you want a copy to save or print out, better to use the "Syllabus (doc.)" link, in the "Readings" box in the sidebar. Or click here.

Getting Comfortable With the Blog

Over in the sidebar on the right (under "Pages") are guidelines for how the blog functions as a course requirement in 206/257, and some suggestions for troubleshooting. Below are two posts you can respond to for credit during this first week (half-week) of class. One is worth a single point. It's there so you can give the blog a trial run and make sure you know how to respond. The other blog post has more substance to it, so it's worth a maximum of three points (the system for grading blogs is described in the "The Blog: Rules of Engagement" page). More posts will be available for you to respond to after the first day of class, but it's a good idea to get familiar with the blog now. Please e-mail me if you run into any problems or have any questions!

Week 1 Reading

There is no reading that you need to do in advance for our first day of class (Wednesday), but on Friday we'll start discussing Fantomina by Eliza Haywood, which you can find on pages 568 - 586 of your Longman anthology.   If you find yourself baffled by class discussion on Wednesday, or if you fear that you don't have enough background information to speak with confidence in class discussion, by all means read the introduction to the Longman anthology ("The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries" that begins on p. 1).  The later section entitled "The Age of the Enlightenment" (p. 185 - 199) will also be helpful.

For Credit: Is This Thing On?

Here's a question, totally unrelated to the course material, to get you used to the blog. This one is only worth one point. If you answer it, you get the point--if not, you don't. Part of the purpose of this question is to identify any bugs in the blog or any problems you have connecting to it before the semester kicks in. If you run into problems, please e-mail me (

So here's the question: what is the most delicious thing you ate over winter break?

Deadline: Saturday, 1/22, midnight.

For Credit: 250 Years from Now

For your first regular post of the semester, do a thought experiment.  Project yourself 250 years in the future and imagine that UIUC is offering a 200-level course in the literature and culture of the time you are living in now, in 2011.  That is, imagine you are a student in the future looking back on the world of 2011, much in the way that we, in this course, will be looking back on the world of 1711.
  • What will the title of the course be?
  • How long a time period will the course cover?  What cultural or historical events will it use as a starting point?
  • What kinds of literary or artistic genres will it cover?
  • What key texts should be on the syllabus?
Your response doesn't need to answer all of those questions!  A couple of sentences offering a single specific idea are fine.  You can also respond by kindly and collegially taking issue with a classmate's projection of the future.

Deadline: Saturday (1/22), midnight