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ENGLISH 4AN3 19th Century Adaptations

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Grace Kehler

Email: kehlerg@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 208

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23723


Office Hours: TBA

Course Objectives:

The contemporary culture industry cannot seem to get its fill of nineteenth-century Britain. Its novels, short stories, writers, and innovators figure saliently in all manner of twentieth and twenty-first century media: fiction, film, television shows, and graphic novels. Truly (to borrow from Foucault), we are other Victorians. This course inquires into the ideological, political, and aesthetic motivations that inform recent adaptations of the British nineteenth-century. To what uses has it been put, and why?

This year’s course themes include innocence and experience as well as discovery and concealment, especially in terms of the uncanny or uncomfortable aspects of home, nation, and family that that both Victorian and we wish to keep at bay. Victorian texts are paired with more recent ones. Please note that some of the assigned texts take on very disturbing issues.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Online Texts (web addresses listed in the Schedule, below.)

Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. (This novel is readily available as a new or used text. I highly recommend the Oxford World Classics Illustrated Version, which also includes an informative introduction by Stephen Gill. It’s available from Oxford University Press or Amazon.com. If you cannot find this edition, feel free to use Penguin.) https://www.oupcanada.com/catalog/9780199536269.html

Marsh, Richard. The Beetle. https://broadviewpress.com/product/the-beetle/#tab-description (Print or Electronic Copy)

Method of Assessment:


Weekly Brief Analysis (about 500 words)        80%    Formal Submission on Feb. 14th & Apr. 4th

In-Class Participation                                        20%                                                              Weekly

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

LATE POLICY. The brief analyses submitted on Feb. 14th will receive full commentary. Students may take up until Feb. 28th to submit the first five analyses without penalty, but late submissions will not receive any commentary. For the second set of analyses, due April 4th, students may take a one-week extension, without penalty, until April 11th. Once again, late submissions will not receive commentary. I cannot offer an extension past April 11th, since fourth-year grade are due shortly after classes end.

ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION. A seminar course relies on student dialogue—and thus on student presence. Students are expected not only to read all assigned texts prior to the class, but also to come well-prepared to offer comments and questions about textual themes and details. The participation grade is cumulative, reflecting each week’s conversations. It can be difficult to leap into conversations (especially if you are a quiet person), so students are expected to bring a printed copy their weekly analysis with them to class. I prefer that you speak your ideas, but you may read them if needed. Should you require alternate arrangements, ensure that you meet with me to discuss your situation within the first week or two of class.



Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

SCHEDULE: WINTER TERM (Jan. 10-April 4 2018)

Jan.10: Course Introduction

Jan. 17: Adaptations, Afterlives, and Hauntings

Freud, Siegmund. “The Uncanny.” https://uncanny.la.utexas.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/freud-uncanny_001.pdf

Excerpts from articles and books on Victorian adaptations.

Jan. 24 & 31: Architectural Uncanny, Urban Gothic, and the Child

Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist.

Excerpts from the Architectural Uncanny

Feb. 7: Re-presenting Gothic Childhoods

Lean, David, dir. (1948) Oliver Twist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUMCPdpklAQ

Truffaut, François. (1959) The 400 Blows https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvjUhgtn_-U&has_verified=1  (Available for $3.99 rental on YouTube)

Feb. 14th: Beguiled Children and Traumatized Survivors

Browning, Robert. The Pied Piper of Hamelin


Egoyan, Atom. The Sweet Hereafter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUZmgpJLpMA

Feb. 21: Reading Break

Feb. 28: Poetry of Loss and Mourning

Hopkins, Gerard Manley. “Spring and Fall” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44400/spring-and-fall

---. “Binsey Poplars.” https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/html/1807/4350/poem1038.html


---. “The Caged Skylark.” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44391/the-caged-skylark

---. “The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo.” http://www.bartleby.com/122/36.html

---. “As Kingfishers Catch Fire.” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44389/as-kingfishers-catch-fire

March 7: The Mourning Youth

Lonergan, Kenneth. Margaret. (itunes purchase for $9.99)

March 14 & 21: Urban Gothic, Revisited

Marsh, Richard. The Beetle. (1897)

Possible Topics: empire-other relations; metamorphic/unclassifiable horrors; urban gothic; occult and technological sciences; identity threats; degeneration fears; from Marsh’s Beetle to contemporary representations of parasitic monsters (vampires, zombies)

March 28: Recent Representations of the Urban Gothic

Text(s) To be Chosen Through Consultation with the Class Members

April 4: Class Reflections and Celebration