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The Brontës385-1 MW 3:30-4:45
Spring 2024
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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 may 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. 

The following acronyms are used on the Reading Schedule.

TTWH = The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
WH = Wuthering Heights
NA = Norton Anthology

 Readings should be finished for the day assigned. For example, TTWH, Chpts 1-10, should be read (completed) by Jan 31. You should aim to keep ahead of our class meeting schedule with your reading of the novel.  Also, be sure to read the footnotes/endnotes as you read the novels along with the critical introductions.

Monday Wednesday
22 Course Introduction

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

Reading/Taking Notes
24 Review Course Website (Syllabus/Policies)/Course Notes/Canvas

Reading/Taking Notes

The Brons: Biographical Info/Connections
NA, Introduction to the Victorian Age
29 The Brons: Biographical Info/Connections
NA, Introduction to the Victorian Age.
Also, "The Woman Question," pp 653-56 (The New Woman)
31 TTWH (Chpts 1-10)

Reading Schedule & Meeting Time Card Due

For all of our discussions of TTWH, bring NA in case we refer to background info
Monday Wednesday
05 TTWH (Chpts 11-19)
**Review Chpts 1-10

07 TTWH (Chpts 20-30)
**Review Chpts 1-19 (Chpts 11, 16, 19)

Groups assigned for collaborative essay & presentation

12 TTWH (Chpts 31-37)
**Review chapters 1-30/Notes from our class discussion (board)

Discuss Collaboration (Course Notes)
14 Finish Discussion of Collaboration (Course Notes)

(Chpts 38-48)
**Review chapters 1-37

Quiz 1
: Chpts 1-35

19 TTWH (Chpts 49-53)
**Review chapters 1-48

NA: from The Idea of a University (Discourse/Lecture 10, pp 70-72)

In-class grp work (5pts): Chapters 23, 27, 38, 42, 45, 49, 53

**Finish in-class group work - card due

 *Critical Introduction

Review Grp Essay & Presentation Page (Course Notes)

Begin reading Shirley

**Critical Introduction
**Loose ends/Final Thoughts

28 Bring TTWH, Shirley, and NA

Loose Ends/Final Thoughts

(Chpts 1-11)
Focus on chpts 2, 5, 6
**NA -
Review "A Time of Troubles" section in general intro.
Also, "Industrialism: Progress or Decline," pp 626-27

Monday Wednesday
04 Shirley (Chpts 1-11)
**Historical bkgrd/Themes (NA/Penguin notes)
**Discuss characters assigned in TH's class

Quiz 2: TTWH, Chpts 36-53/Shirley, Chpts 1-7

06 Shirley (Chpts 12-23)
**Continue discussion of characters--include chpts 12-23

Midterm Take-Home Portion: Part I: Discuss.  Due at the beginning of class 3/13, no exceptions

11 Shirley (Chpts 12-23)

Informal Progress Report Due.  One email from each group (5pts).
Submit by 5pm

13 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)
18 Spring Break
20 Spring Break
25 Shirley (Chpts 24-27)
**Mrs Pryor and Shirley (Chpts 24, 25)
**Literary Age Studies: The "Old Maids"
**Attack on Hollow's Mill
27 Shirley (Chpts 28-33)
**Life as a governess
Monday Wednesday
01 Shirley (Chpts 34-37)
**Final Chapter--Conclusion
**Condition of Woman Question
Critical Introduction

Proposal Due: Each group submits one proposal--print copy at the beginning of class
03 Shirley
Condition of Woman Question
      --Critical Introduction
Ch 30

Final Thoughts: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall & Shirley/The Brontës//
Wuthering Heights

08Bring both Shirley & WH
**Condition of Woman Question
    --Critical Intro

NA - Emily Brontë: "I'm happiest when most away" (374-75)

(Vol 1: Chpts 1-5)

In-class grp work (5pts)

10 WH (Vol 1: Chpts 6-10)

In-class grp work - card due
Chpts 1-5 (See 4/8)
15 WH (Vol 1: Chpts 11-14)

Quiz 3: Shirley, Chpts 30-37; WH, Chpts 1-10

17 WH (Vol 2: Chpts 1-5)

22 WH (Vol 2: Chpts 6-10)

Critical Essay: Gilbert and Gubar, pp 355-61

24 WH (Vol 2: Chpts 11-15)

29 WH (Vol 2: Chpts 16-20)

Critical Essay: Gilbert and Gubar, pp 361-69 (See 4/22)

Quiz 4: WH: Vol 2, Chpts 1- 20
01 May - See Below
Monday Wednesday
29 April - See Above

01 WH

**Chpts 19 & 20: passages from Monday

Preface, pp 306-10
Biographical Notice, pp 300-06

06 Bring all three novels & NA


**Critical Essay, Ivan Kreilkamp, pp 389-401
**Nature (Chpts 1.1, 1.11; 2.7, 2.8, 2.10, 2. 20)
**Education (Chpts 1.8; 2.17 & 19)

**Movie Clip
**Cathy & Heathcliff's Liebestod
**Share midterm samples
**Sample essay intro/thesis

Final Thoughts:  The Brontës

Final Class Meeting
Presentations for Collaborative Project: Mon, May 13, 10:15-12:15pm, in our usual classroom

Collaborative Project Due May 15, by 5pm: Drop off at my office, in the bin on my office door
Essay + Outline + Planning Charts (both partners)
See Blue Boxes below
08 No Class Meeting

Meet with your group during our class period to work on your essay/presentation

Final Exam Week: May 13 - 17
Office hours finals week:  See website home page

Finals Week Class Meeting: Mon, May 13, 10:15-12:15pm, in our usual classroom

Groups will give presentations during our finals week class meeting.  With remaining time, wrap up course

Essay Due 5/15: Drop of at my office.  Essay + Outline (one per group) + Planning Charts (all partners): Paper clip & Drop in bin on my office door

Course Grades posted on AccessPoint (not Canvas): TBA

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

In this course, we will read and discuss three novels by the Brontë sisters, focusing on their aesthetic value as works of literature (art) as well as the biographical, historical, social, and cultural issues they present.  In addition to framing the semester by examining the historical development of nineteenth-century novel, we will examine literary theory and criticism, particularly gender criticism, as a way of reading, thinking, and writing about the Brontë sisters’ works.

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
  • Analyze the Bronte novels (reading beyond plot) to understand, in particular, how gender ideology is shaped by social class, race/ethnicity, and sexuality
  • 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 the Brontes as writers and as authors
  • Evaluate and engage literature as an imaginative expression of the human condition


Purchase at Bookstore (or from another vendor)

Bronte, Anne. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Intro & Notes: Peter Merchant) Wordsworth Classics, 978-1-853-26488-7
Bronte, Charlotte. Shirley (Ed. Jessica Cox) Penguin, 978-0-141-43986-0
Bronte, Emily.  Wuthering Heights (Ed. Alexandra Lewis), Norton Critical Edition, 5th ed., 978-0-393-28499-7

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 introductions.

Text Rental

Stephen Greenblatt., gen. ed, et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 10th ed. Vol. E. (The Victorian Age).


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. 

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.

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 for a quiz, you must contact me the day of the quiz to make arrangements, if warranted, to take the quiz before the next class period.  After that, you will receive a "0" for the quiz.

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.

Anyone caught cheating during quizzes or exams (e.g., looking at someone else's paper or using a cell phone) will fail the quiz or exam and be reported to the Dean of Students Office. Also, using AI to generate assignments that you turn in as substitute for your own work is cheating and will be treated as a form of academic dishonesty.