Professor: Dr. Sheila Morton
Office: Virginia Hall, room 301
Office Hours: Monday- Thursday 11:30-12:30 and by appointment
Phone: 636-7300 ext. 5698

Austin, Jane. Northanger Abbey. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2000.
Blake, William. The Book of Urizen: A Facsimile in Full Color. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1997.
Braden, Mary Elizabeth. Lady Audley’s Secret. Ed. Davild Skilton. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.
Greene, Douglas G. Editor. Classic Mystery Stories. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1999.
---. Detection by Gaslight. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1997.
Course Pack (either online or from Staples—your choice)

Welcome to English 314. I have been waiting to teach this class all year, and I’m so excited that we get to end the year by reading some of the best, most fun literature I promise you’ll ever read in a class. I hope you’re ready for your encounters with curses and ghosts, gruesome murders, clever villains, and determined sleuths as we explore “Mystery, Murder, and Detection in Nineteenth-Century England.”

Course Description

According to the Tusculum catalogue, English 314 “explores the literature of the 19th century in depth, from the Romantics to the Victorians, and the social and cultural contexts in which 19th century writers worked. The course will cover all genres of writing, including poetry, prose, and non-fiction.”

Course Objectives

By the end of the block, I hope that each of you will be able to

  • Define the conventions (and the differences between the conventions) of Gothic, Horror, Sensation, and Detective fiction, as well as explain how they are related.
  • Situate important examples of each of these genres within their historical backgrounds and explain the cultural import of these texts.
  • Read with true enjoyment some of the most thrilling literature of the nineteenth century and desire to read more beyond the confines of this class.


This is a 300 level class, so I want to warn you from the beginning that the reading will be intense. Because we are few in number, however, I need you to keep up with that reading and come to class prepared to discuss and participate. To help you do that, 10% of your grade will be determined by class participation.

In addition, you will have three major assignments, each comprising 30% of your grade for the class. The first of these is a reading journal in which you will record your thoughts on the readings we will do each night. Your reading journal is largely a personal response to the readings, but I did include some question prompts for each day on your schedule. Feel free to either hand-write or type your journal entries, but just as a general rule, they should be about one page typed (double spaced) or two pages handwritten. I will collect the journal at the end of each week.

You will also each be responsible for reading one addition book (as if you didn’t have enough to read, right?!). You will then be responsible for writing a 5 to 7 page paper about this book, explaining how it fits into the traditions we are discussing and defining in class. We will sign up for book choices today and I would encourage you to go straight to the library and begin reading. You may hand in your paper at any time during the semester, so the sooner the better. In addition, you will prepare a formal presentation of your paper at the end of the semester. This will give us all insight into some other important texts of the nineteenth-century that we just don’t have time for in the class. I would like you to choose a novel that you’ve not read before (in the unlikely event that you’ve read all five, we’ll choose something else for you), because I want you to be as well- and as widely-read as possible when you graduate from Tusculum J. You may choose from the following:

  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
  • The Lady in White, by Wilkie Collins
  • The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Note that each of these novels bears elements of the genres we’ve been discussing, but each one differs from the traditional genre conventions in unique ways as well, and you will want to explore both the ways in which they adhere to their various genres and the ways in which they differ.

Finally, because this is a small class, I thought we could do a class project all together—something ambitious and difficult and fun. We’ll brainstorm some ideas for this large project together later, but I would like the project to be something that can be used by you and others in the future (a web site, a handbook, etc.), and that will explore the connections between the four genres we are discussing in this class, as well as placing those genres and their development in the historical background of nineteenth-century England.

Grading Policy

Grades will be determined as follows:

1) Reading Journal 30%

2) Final Paper & presentation 30%

3) Final Project 30%

4) Participation 10%

We will use the standard grade equivalents as follows

93-100% A
90-92% A-
87-89% B+
83-86% B
80-82% B-
77-79% C+
73-76% C
70-72% C-
67-69% D+
63-66% D
60-62% D-
Below 60% is failing

Class Policies

Attendance: Because classes move so quickly on the block system, attendance is absolutely necessary at all class meetings and conferences. I understand that sometimes you may become ill, or you may have a school excused absence. For this reason, you may have one absence with no penalty. The second absence, however, will mean a two-point deduction from your final grade. The third absence will move this to a four-point deduction. Students who miss more than three classes will fail the course. For all absences, you must notify me ahead of time (the easiest way is through email). NOTE: There is NO difference between an excused and an unexcused absence. You get a maximum of three whether you are skiing in Colorado or lying prostrate in the hospital. I would recommend forgoing the skiing trips, then, as insurance against hospital eventualities. In addition, for every two times that you are late or leave early, you will be marked absent.

Participation: Because this is a reading-intensive class, I will rely heavily on class discussion to see what you have learned and where I might help you. For this reason, participation in class discussions is an important part of your success in this class. I know that some people are naturally more reticent than others, and I will try to design lessons that will give those students opportunities to speak and share their ideas as well. It remains for you, then, to be prepared each day to share and discuss and stimulate the thinking of your fellow scholars in class.

Late Assignments: I’ve discovered that on the block system, late papers and assignments can be particularly problematic so I ask that you please, please turn things in on time. This class has only a few assignments that you will submit, so simply submit them on time and you’ll be fine.

Classroom Behavior: I encourage frank and open discussion, so please feel free to talk as long as you are talking about topics relevant to this class. I like funny people, so you may also feel free to make jokes, have fun, be friends. Be kind to each other, however. Respond to one another’s thoughts, viewpoints, writings, etc. with encouragement and respect. Racist, sexist, or other discriminatory remarks will in no way be tolerated.

One final note about classroom courtesy: Please never bring a cell phone that has not been completely turned off to class. I will confess a sort of passionate hatred of cell phone culture, and the quickest way to incur my wrath is to break cell phone etiquette in the classroom.

Academic Honesty: Borrowing ideas or words from another person (an author, a teacher, a roommate, etc.) without proper citation is called plagiarism. Plagiarism, intentional or otherwise, is academic theft—equal to any other kind of theft—and may result in a failing grade for the course and possible disciplinary action from the college.

Final Notes: Now that all of the warnings have been issued and the battle lines drawn, let me offer a peace flag. I want you to know that I love teaching, I love working with students, I love the ideas and excitement that you bring to class and the friendships and community that you form here. I want this class to be a place where learning occurs in an open and fun environment, where each person contributes and feels validated. Help me to make this classroom such a place, and have a great block!

Tusculum College Learning Center

Please contact the Disabilities Offices for any disability-related services or inquiries.

You may also access additional academic support through the Tusculum College Learning Center.

Students requiring accommodations in order to function effectively in class activities should contact Dr. Lisa R. Johnson at (423) 636-7300 ext. 5651 or 1-800-729-0256 ext. 5651, email  The Learning Center is located in Room 112 of Annie Hogan Byrd.  The mailing address is Tusculum College Learning Center, Box 5025, Greeneville, TN  37744

Any student requiring additional academic support may obtain it through the Tusculum College Learning Center. Please contact Dr. Johnson at the contact information listed above.  Please also notify the instructor of any learning disability or necessary accommodation.

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