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Charles Dickens & JK Rowling 385-1 TTH 12:30-1:45
Spring 2023 Log into Canvas

This is a "real time" syllabus that will be regularly updated to reflect our progress throughout the semester. You can easily check it from a mobile device or from any computer.

The syllabus consists of the Reading Schedule and Course Policies. Students are responsible for understanding and following the reading schedule and the course policies, which are in effect from the first day of class. Please read them carefully (and review them throughout the semester). Please see me if you have any questions.

Think of the syllabus as a flexible guide. It will structure our semester, but we will adjust it to fit our needs as the semester progresses. Not all assignments and quizzes are listed at the beginning of the semester; some will be added throughout the semester. It may also be necessary to finish some readings the following class period; I will update the syllabus after each class.  Again, be sure to check the syllabus regularly. 

You do not need to print the syllabus, but if you decide to, be sure to check the online syllabus regularly for new information, added assignments, or reading schedule changes. The print icon above is for print copies.

Our main vehicle this semester for course content will be the Course Website, but it is linked to Canvas, which we will use for some things, such as discussion posts or for accessing video. We will not use the Canvas Gradebook; instead, the Grade Sheet on our Course Notes page (on the course website) will help you track assignments and grades.

 Readings should be finished for the day assigned. For example, HPSS should be read (completed) by Feb 7.  For HPSS and HPGF, you should have the novels finished by the time we begin discussing them.  For David Copperfield, you should have the assigned chapters finished for each class meeting.  You should, however, aim to keep ahead of our class meeting schedule with your reading of the novel. 

Tuesday Thursday
24 Course Introduction

Review Course Website (Syllabus/Policies)/Course Notes/Canvas

Reading/Taking Notes
26 No class meeting

Review Course Website (Syllabus/Policies)/Course Notes/Canvas

31 Rowling's Life/20th/21st Century

**Oprah Interview with Rowling (

02 February - Look Below
Tuesday Thursday
31 January - Look Above

02 Final Thoughs - JK Rowling

Dickens Biography/Victorian Age

**Dickens Chronology in Penguin DC - bring novel to class
**Dickens: A Concise Biography - Films on Demand (UWSP Library website): Watch in class

Reading Schedule Card Due
07 Dickens Biography/Victorian Age

Final Thoughts - Charles Dickens

HPSS - Introduction

**Characterization (Dursleys, Hagrid, Dumbledore, Draco)

**Characterization: Draco, Ron, Hermione, Minerva McGonagall, Snape
**As time allows: Filtch, Ghosts, Centaurs, other Hogwarts faculty, Quirrell, Mr. Ollivander, Neville Longbottom

Character Names (Pottermore website:


**Voldemort, Harry Potter
**Ghosts, Centaurs, Quirrell

**Education (ch 8)
**Quidditch (chpts 10-11, 13) (See Course Notes)


**Quidditch (chpts 10-11, 13; 16-17) (See Course Notes)

Hermione (ch 10)/Female characters
--"Harry Potter's Girl Trouble" article (handout)
**Mirror of Erised (ch 12)

In-class card
(5pts) for each House

Quiz 1:
HPSS - Characterization, Chpts 1-13

**Hermione (ch 10)/Female characters
--"Harry Potter's Girl Trouble" article (handout)
**Mirror of Erised (ch 12)

In-class card
due (5pts) for each House

**N Flamel (ch 13)

23 University Cancelled Classes (Snowstorm)

Bring both HPSS & HPGF


**Movie Clips (Diagon Alley; Quidditch, Forbidden Forest, Ending)
**Final Points: N. Flamel/Quidditch
**Forbidden Forest (ch 15)
**Conclusion (ch 17)
**Final Thoughts

HPGF - Introduction

Chpts 1-3

**Return of Voldemort (Tom Riddle)
**Harry's dream
**Quidditch World Cup invitation (Weasleys, Dursleys)

02 March - Look Below

Tuesday Thursday
28 February - Look Above


Chpts 1-3 (Finish our discussion from Tues)

**Return of Voldemort (Tom Riddle)
**Harry's dream
**Quidditch World Cup invitation (Weasleys, Dursleys)

Chpts 4-9

**Weasleys (the Burrow)
**Quidditch World Cup match


Chpts 10-15

Informal House presentations: Chpts 12-15

In-class meeting of groups for collaborative project

Quiz 2:
HPGF - Chpts 1-15


Quick Follow Up
**Ch 7: Quidditch World Cup gathering
**Ch 6: Cedric and his father
**Ch 9: Death Eaters/Winky (Ch 8)

Chpts 16-21

**Game Playing (See Course Notes--Game Playing in HPSS & HPGF)
--Goblet of Fire
--First Task

In-class meeting of groups for collaborative project (planning chart)

Midterm Part I: Take-Home Portion.  Due at the beginning of class 3/16, no exceptions

**Movie clip: Mad-Eye Moody scene
** Ch 21: Hermione's S.P.E.W. campaign (Course Notes - Hegel's Master-Slave dialectic)

Chpts 22-31

**Second and Third Tasks (Course Notes - Game Playing in HPSS & HPGF)
**Adolsecence (Boy-Girl) Relationships (Yule Ball)/Relationship of Harry, Hermione, Ron

Review Take-Home Midterm (see 3/9)/In-class midterm

In-class meeting of groups for collaborative project (research)

16 Midterm

Part I:
Due at the beginning of class or you will receive a zero for Part I

Part II:
In-Class Portion
(Please - No Early Exams)

21 Spring Break 23 Spring Break

Review:  Hegel's Master-Slave dialectic (House Elves Issue)

Chpts 32-37

**Second and Third Tasks (Course Notes - Game Playing in HPSS & HPGF)
**Adolsecence (Boy-Girl) Relationships (Yule Ball)/Relationship of Harry, Hermione, Ron
**Harry's confrontation with Voldemort/Death of Cedric (Chpts 32-34)

Collaborative Project Update (Formatting)

30 HPGF  (Bring both HPGF & DC)

**The Pensieve (Ch 30) (movie clip)
**Dumbledore: Importance of unity and solidarity (Chpts 36-37)/ (movie clip)
**Sirius Black, Rita Skeeter, Professor Trelawney
**Chapter illustrations
**Final Thoughts


Chpts I-II (Chapters are grouped in monthly parts - see table of contents to the Penguin DC)

**Mr. Murderstone, Clara Copperfield, Aunt Betsy, Peggotty, David
**Memory, imagination/Childhood

Tuesday Thursday
04 DC - Introduction

**Movie Clip: BBC R Baker introduction
**Course Notes: DC Flowchart/Historical Bkgrd: Victorian Period
**Penguin edition: Dickens Chronology - DC (Charles Dickens) as autobiographical fiction
**Preface to DC
**Penguin Critical Intro: "The Novel in 1850" (xvi-viii)

Chpts I-II (Continue from TH's class)


Brief plot summaries

**Peggottys/Little Emily
**Mr Creakle/Salem House/Steerforth
**Murdstones/Clara Copperfield

06 DC

Continue with Chpts III-VIII

Brief plot summaries

**Peggottys/Little Emily
**Mr Creakle/Salem House/Steerforth
**Murdstones/Clara Copperfield
 **Movie Clip: Chpt 1

Chpts IX-XIV

Brief plot summaries

**Murdstone & Grinby's (from Dickens's autobiographical fragment, pp 895-96)
**Mr & Mrs Micawber
**Aunt Betsy/Mr Dick

Collaborative Essay & Presentation: Proposal Due by April 7, 4pm
(Outside of class, drop off proposal at my office)

11 DC


**Road to Dover
**Aunt Betsy/Mr. Dick

Chpts XV-XX

Brief plot summaries

**Dr Strong/Annie/Canterbury School/David's "beginning"
**Mr Wickfield, Agnes, Uriah Heep
**Retrospective chapter
**Steerforth/Mrs Steeforth/Rosa Dartle

13 DC

**Micawbers (see 4/11)
**Aunt Betsy/Mr. Dick
**Retrospective - chapter 18

Brief plot summaries


**Miss Mowcher/Martha Endell
**Mr Spenlow/Dora
**Law (Doctor's Commons)

Resubmit Reading Schedule Card
(see 2/2): Updates

18 DC


**Miss Mowcher/Martha Endell
**Mr Spenlow/Dora


Brief plot summaries

**Tommy Traddles
**David's dinner party
**Rosa Dartle/Mrs Steerforth
**Steerforth and Little Emily

Quiz 3:
Chpts 1-26
20 DC


**Tommy Traddles
**Rosa Dartle/Mrs Steerforth
**Steerforth and Little Emily


Brief plot summaries

**Law (Doctor's Commons)/David's critique
**David and Dora
**David's trials/earnestness

25 DC


Brief plot summaries

**Agnes, David, Uriah
**David and Dora's housekeeping
**Annie/Dr Strong subplot (Mr. Dick)

In-class cards: grp work (5pts) (Chpts 39, 42, 43, 44)

27 DC

Sit in Collaborative Project Groups
**Planning Charts (TH, 5/11)

**Social class [Ch 39; Penguin Critical Intro: "States of Conflict" (xxxiii-vii)]
**Rosa Dartle/Miss Mowcher: Women in the Novel (see Course Notes)

Chpts XLV-L

Brief plot summaries

**David and Dora
**Martha Endell
**Annie and Dr. Strong
*Rosa Dartle/Emily/Mr Pegotty (Ch 50)
Tuesday Thursday
02 DC

Chpts LI-LVI

Brief plot summaries

**Writing and language (Ch 52//Mr. Micawber, Uriah Heep/Dr. Strong, Mr. Dick)
**Steerforth (Ch 55)
**Retrospective Chapter

**Penguin Critical Intro: Autobiography and Memory (xxvi-vii);
"Dickens and Mr. Micawber" (xxxvii-ix)

04 DC  (Also, bring both HP novels)


Brief plot summaries

**David's Travels/Writing (Chpts 43, 45, 48)
**David and Agnes
**Traddles and Sophy
**Visit to the prison

**Review exams
**Connections to HPSS & HPGF

Quiz 4: Chpts 27-53; Penguin Critical Intros ("States of Conflict"; "Autobiography and Memory";
"Dickens and Mr. Micawber")

09 DC Chpts LXIII-LXIV (Also, bring both HP novels)

Share midterm responses (bring yours)

Brief plot summaries

Writing and Memory
**Illustration (p 870)
**Penguin Critical Intro: Autobiography and Memory (xxvi-vii)
**David's Travels/Writing (Chpts 43, 46, 48, 58)

Women in the Novel
**Rosa Dartle, Dora & Agnes, Martha Endell & Emily, Annie Strong

**Conclusion, Ch 64
**Dickens and Rowling--Final Thoughts

Final Class Meeting, 5/18

Presentations for Collaborative Project

**Bring all three books
**Loose Ends: Dickens and Rowling
Share midterm responses as/if time allows (Bring yours)

Collaborative Project Due 5/16: Drop off at my office during office hours: T, 1-3
Essay + Outline + Planning Charts (both partners)
See Blue Boxes below
11 No Class Meeting

Meet with your group to work on your essay

Canvas Posting (10pts): Final Thoughts about Rowling & Dickens: Due Sat, May 20, 11pm.
See Canvas page for our course, under Assignments

Final Exam Week: May 15 - 19
Office hours finals week:  See website home page

Finals Week Class Meeting: TH, May 18, 12:30-2:30, in our usual classroom

Groups will give presentations during our finals week class meeting.  With remaining time, wrap up course
Essay Due 5/16: Drop of at my office.  Essay and Outline (one per group) + Planning Charts (all partners): T, 1-3pm

Canvas Posting (10pts): Final Thoughts about Rowling & Dickens: Due Sat, May 20, 11pm.
See Canvas page for our course, under Assignments

Course Grades posted on AccessPoint (not Canvas): May 25 or 26

The General Education Program--The Humanities

The humanities explore the fundamental ideas and values shaping cultures and civilization, in life and as represented in the written word, using scholarly approaches that are primarily analytical, critical, or interpretive. By introducing students to concepts and beliefs within and outside their own perspectives, courses in the humanities help students to understand and critically engage a variety of worldviews and the ideas that give them meaning.

1. Closely, think critically, and write effectively about texts or cultural artifacts that reflect on perennial questions concerning the human condition (such as the search for truth and meaning, the confrontation with suffering and mortality, or the struggle for justice, equality, and human dignity).

2. Investigate and thoughtfully respond to a variety of ideas, beliefs or values held by persons in situations other than one’s own.

Engl 385 Course Description and learning Outcomes

This course is for Muggles who want to experience the adventurous, socially aware, magical worlds of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield (published serially, 1849-1850) and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997) and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000). We will read these novels for their imaginative worlds, heroes and villains, and descriptive language. In addition, we will compare and contrast novels, thinking about the parallels between the worlds of the novels and even our own (e.g., education, social class, and magic/fairytales). Through class discussions, you will have the chance to share your thoughts about the novels—to analyze and evaluate them, to debate issues, and to explore personal connections to the reading. Literature, after all, is an imaginative engagement of life. Films are the perfect complement to novels, so we will watch adaptations of the novels (clips), which will help us realize why these novels (and their authors) continue to have popularity and cultural power today.

During the semester, we will work to

  • Analyze literature critically during class discussions and in writing to demonstrate an understanding of key themes, of the conventions/language of literature, and of key concepts about nineteenth- and twentieth-century British culture
  • Summarize and explain plots and themes when reading literature individually and during class discussions
  • Explain the reciprocal relationship between literature and culture--how literature and culture interact to reinforce and challenge social attitudes and values--by comparing and contrasting Charles Dickens and J. K. Rowling as writers and as authors
  • Evaluate and engage literature as an imaginative expression of the human condition


Purchase at Bookstore (or from another vendor)

DAVID COPPERFIELD (ED: TAMBLING) Penguin, 978-0-14-043944-1
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, Scholastic, 978-0-439-13960-1
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, Scholastic, 978-0-439-70818-0

Warning: If you choose not to use these editions, you will have trouble following our class discussions and noting page references. You will also not have textual notes and the critical introduction for David Copperfield.


This is a reading-intensive course.  Success in the course will require that you establish set (and consistent) reading times outside of class when reading and thinking can occur.  Our class discussions will focus on the assigned readings, but we cannot read every work line by line. In keeping with the course learning outcomes, you will be able to use our class discussions to help you study sections of works we do not have time to cover fully in class. Before each class meeting, it is useful to mark key passages that point to central concerns or ideas in works and to write down ideas and questions you have. The purpose of class discussion is not to give you answers; instead, class discussions will help you develop reading strategies, understand background/contexts, and raise questions that you will think about and answer.

There will be quizzes and some assignments, a midterm examination, and a collaborative presentation and course essay.  The course grade will be determined mathematically using the percentages below. Please remember that your course grade will be based on the work that you complete, not simply the effort you make or my subjective opinion.

Course Grade %
Assignments/Quizzes** 25%
Midterm 40%
Collaborative Essay 25%
Collaborative Presentation 10%
** Will be determined by point values (Approx Grades): 5pt Assignments: A/A-=5-4.5; B- =4; C- =3.5; D- =3; F=2.5-0
10pt Assignments
: A/A- =10-9; B/B- =8.5-8; C/C- =7.5-7; D/D- =6.5-6; F=5-0

All work must be completed on time. It is your responsibility to keep copies of all of your essays and assignments. Some assignments maybe submitted via email, and email communication will be required throughout the semester.

Late Assignment Policy: Students who miss a quiz may contact me about the possibility of making up the quiz; however, this must be done before the quiz or a day or two after the quiz is given.  It may not be possible to make up a quiz. Assignments due on a given day must be submitted at the beginning of the class period. An assignment that is finished but not printed out and ready to hand in is late. Late assignments will be accepted one day after the original due date (not the next class meeting), but will lose one letter grade or a minimum of one full point. After that, they will not be accepted. (Assignments due on Friday that are late must be turned in by 5pm.  They will not be accepted on Monday.) Assignments due electronically (e.g., on Canvas) must be received by the day and time specified.  In-class assignments must be completed during class.  Students who are absent during an in-class assignment must contact a day or two after the assignment.  It may not be possible to make up a missed in-class assignment.  No incompletes will given in the course.  See me about any issues that arise.


Regular attendance is your responsibility and is essential for success in the course. As stated in the online UWSP Course Catalog (UWSP Course Catalog pgs 25-26), you cannot "cut" classes.

There are no excused or unexcused absences in this course.  The only relevant factor is your number of absences.  However, you have personal days to use and manage as needed: For three-days-a-week classes: 5.  For two-days-a-week classes: 3.  Use personal days for family situations or sickness.  Be careful not to squander them.

If you miss a total of two weeks of class (six class meetings for classes meeting three times a week; four class meetings for classes meeting twice a week), you may fail the course.  If you are on a sports team, absences for games still count as personal days.  However, we will adjust your absence limit if absences because of games exceed the absence limit.  The attendance policy begins with the second class meeting. 

It may be possible to make up missed assignments/quizzes with my approval; therefore, it is your responsibility to contact me to determine work that needs to be completed and to follow up with all logistical requirements.  However, it may not be possible to make up some assignments or quizzes.

If you are absent and have not exceeded your absence limit, you do not need to email me to explain your absence. If you would like to find out about missed information or assignments, it is best to stop by during office hours or make an appointment to see me. You can also email me, but I may not be able to respond before our next class meeting. However, you should email about an absence ahead of the due date if an assignment is due.

For an extended absence, do the following:  Follow the syllabus and keep up with readings/assignments; Stay in contact with me for information/resources/help; Look into getting notes from classmates (I can help with this); See me during office hours when you return to class.

Classroom Etiquette

During class meetings, we will discuss and debate issues about writing and literature.  It is fine to express your views passionately and debate others in class, but do so in a civil, constructive manner.  Please do not use phones and mobile devices during class, even if you believe you are doing so quietly.  Not only is this rude, but also it distracts other students as well as your ablity to focus on and follow class instruction and discussion.  Also, please do not wear headphones. It is English Department policy that students cannot and should not record class lectures and discussion without permission from the intstructor. Also, please get drinks of water or use the washroom before or after class, not during class, so that our classroom does not become a bus station. Please see me if you need special accomodations.

Plagiarism (from the Latin "to Kidnap")

You will be expected to do your own work throughout the course. Intentionally or unintentionally passing off the ideas, words, or sentences of others (e.g., published authors, website authors, other students) as your own is plagiarism, which will result in failing the plagiarized assignment and possibly the course. Please review the University policy regarding plagiarism.