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Link to the Schedule of Readings and Assignments

Autumn 2019: Classes meet M W F 11:00 - 11:50 AM, 136 McKenna Hall

Course Enrollment and Electives Info:


Elisa Beshero-Bondar

Office Hours, in FOB 204

  • Wed. 4 - 5:30pm
  • Thurs. 1:15 - 3pm
  • and by appointment.
an illustration of Laura paying the goblins with a golden curl, made by Dante Gabriel Rossetti for Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market

Course Description

This course in literary history spans a busy century in Britain from the 1790s to about 1900, a time of revolutionary transformation and rapid technological development. We’ll learn about the emergence of Britain’s Romantic Movement in its revolutionary context, and observe Romanticism’s influence on the writers of the Victorian era, named for the long reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria. Writers of this time witnessed the development of public education systems and the transformation of publishing technology to accommodate increasing numbers of literate readers in England and across the expanding British empire. Aspiring poets and novelists vied with each other to reach larger and larger markets and reflected on the power of literary language to govern and excite a public of readers. Many British writers took seriously the idea that literature could help connect the rich and the poor, and their writings address very serious social issues of the rapidly modernizing nineteenth century.

These writers still speak to issues of our times. They addressed controversies surrounding poverty, race relations, and women’s rights. They responded to scientific debates over geological discoveries, as well as new theories of sexual selection and survival of the fittest. They questioned humanity’s relation to nature, the way emotions influence thinking, and what might happen to Britons living among people of other cultures around the world. Over the next fifteen weeks, we will be discussing how nineteenth-century British writers challenged the social conventions of their times, including the barriers between wealth and poverty, men and women, Britons and foreigners, nation and empire—when that empire stretched itself thin to span the world. Along the way we’ll consider why the antique ideas, images, structures, and stories of nineteenth-century Britain are still so appealing to many of us in the twenty-first century.



You do not need to purchase any print books for this class, because all of our readings will be shared online on our website at Some of you may wish to have print books to accompany the course, so the following are optional and can be purchased if you wish through the Pitt-Greensburg campus store:


Your grade for this course will be based on Class Participation/In-Class Exercises (15%), Digital Annotations (15%), Digital Sound Composition (15%), Annotation Research Project and Paper (20%), two Midterm Exams (worth 10% each), and one Final Exam (15%). At least 90% of the work for the course must be completed in order to receive a passing grade (C or above).

Class Participation and In-Class Exercises: (15%)

This portion of your grade reflects the extent to which you attend class regularly and take an active role in class discussion, contributing thoughtful questions and observations based on the readings, as well as responding to my questions. It will also include your performance on any announced and unannounced quizzes and group exercises I may give in class. If you keep up with the readings listed on the schedule, and come to class each day prepared to discuss them, you will certainly do well with this component.

** Note: Your attendance is vital to this course and your achievement in it. You may miss three classes for any reason without penalty, but your participation grade will be reduced for additional unexcused absences. You’ll also be missing information and perspective on the readings that will almost certainly affect your performance on assignments and exams. If you miss class, try to keep in touch with other members of the class to find out what you’ve missed and consult with me to help you catch up and to be sure you understand the material. Please note that quizzes and in-class activities cannot be made up outside of the classes you missed.

Digital Annotations (15%)

Regularly throughout the semester you will be posting short annotations on our online readings. You may also be assigned to post timeline entries and participate in online class discussions. These will be evaluated by rubric at key points throughout the term. You will do well with this component if you participate regularly and take care that your posts are clearly written, accurate, and relevant to the readings.

Digital Sound Compositions (15%):

This will involve choosing a passage from our readings or excerpts from digital databases of periodicals to perform out loud in a sound recording, perhaps with sound effects. The performance involves interpretation and reflection, and preparing an audio file.

Annotation Research Project and Paper (20%)

You will choose a reading from a list that we will not be covering intensively in class, and adopt it as your own to prepare online annotations that help explain distinctive word choices, discuss significant contexts, identify all proper names, and provide perspective on how the text has been discussed by nineteenth-century scholars. By the end of the course, you will develop a research project based on the work you did in adopting this text as your own to edit.

Two Midterm Exams (10% and 10%) and a Final Exam (15%):

The exams may consist of essay questions, identifications of passages, and brief responses regarding significant events and literary terms we have discussed in class. The Midterm will cover material from the first half of the course. The Final Exam, given during Finals Week, will have a comprehensive section, but will focus on material from the second half of the course.

Grading Scale:

Grades are posted on Courseweb, and follow this standard scale: A: 93-100%, A-: 90-92%, B+: 87-89%, B: 83-86%, B-: 80-82%, C+: 77-79%, C: 73-76%, C-: 70-72%, D+: 67-69%, D: 60-66%, F: 59% and below. In taking the course on a S / NC (pass-fail) basis, students must earn a C to receive Satisfactory credit. G grades (incomplete) may be given only in conformity with the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg’s Bulletin:

Classes and Readings:

To do well in this course you need to attend class regularly and keep up with the readings for each class. Read all the material assigned before class on the day it is scheduled so that you can discuss the material in class, raise questions about it, and intelligently respond to my questions and comments. Stay alert for any changes to the class schedule, which I will announce in class and online on Courseweb and e-mail.

Classroom Courtesy:

Our class is fast paced, and requires that we all be making the best use we can of our in-person class sessions. Arriving late and leaving early disrupts the important collective mental activity of class. So does in-class texting and checking your cell phone. While class is in progress, talking disruptively, leaving the classroom, texting or using a cell phone or computer, reading a newspaper, or other distracting behavior will be actively discouraged, and may result in a deduction in your Participation grade. Please respect what we do in the classroom: attend class regularly, and come prepared to contribute your questions and ideas.

When an assignment is due, I expect that you will carefully edit and proofread your documents, and that you will turn in your assignments on time at the beginning of class or by the posted deadline for Courseweb assignments. If you need an extension, ask me courteously at least a day ahead of time. Do not ask for an extension on or after the day the paper is due.

Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism:

Plagiarism falsely represents another source’s words or ideas as your own, and, if you commit plagiarism in this course, you will receive a final course grade of F and be reported to the Vice President of Academic Affairs. Representing the voice of another individual as your own voice constitutes plagiarism, however generous that person may be in helping you with an assignment. To avoid plagiarism, cite your sources whenever you quote, paraphrase, or summarize material, or use digital images from any outside source (including websites, articles, books, course readings, Courseweb postings, or someone else’s notes). Turning in an assignment generated collectively under the name of a single individual is considered plagiarism. When instructed to collaborate on a project, project collaborators share collective authorship and should identify themselves directly as a team. When using the "copy" and "paste" features as you read and research, be sure that you are carefully marking that these passages are unprocessed from their source, so that you know to process it later. Forgetting to do so not only produces sloppy work but (whether you intended it or not) results in a false representation. As long as you make a good faith and clear effort to cite your sources, you will not be faulted for plagiarism, but your work will be penalized if citations are inaccurate, unclear, or lack important information. Cheating on exams or exercises will also receive a final course grade of F and be reported to the Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Online Policies:


This semester, our class is participating in an early adoption program for testing Canvas, a learning management system that will be replacing Blackboard across the Pitt system in 2020. You will want to bookmark the direct link to Canvas Bookmark, because it is the only way to access Canvas and will not appear on until the full release in Summer 2020. Canvas is new to all of us, so please be patient as we explore the system together! Also, please speak up about any bugs you see in the new system. We are all taking notes together to help make sure the transition to Canvas will go smoothly across the university and your feedback as a class will be very helpful.

E-mail Correspondence:

Send e-mail to me when you have questions or want to meet with me, but please identify yourself by name (first and last), and provide a Subject Line when you do so. I prefer you do not submit your papers to me by e-mail; see directions above for submitting assignments online through the new Canvas system.

Each student is issued a University email address ( upon admission. This email address may be used by the University for official communication with students. Students are expected to read email sent to this account on a regular basis. Failure to read and react to University communications in a timely manner does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the communications. The University provides an email forwarding service that allows students to read their email via other service providers (e.g., Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo). Students who choose to forward their email from their address to another address do so at their own risk. If email is lost as a result of forwarding, it does not absolve the student from responding to official communications sent to their University email address. To forward email sent to your University account, go to, log into your account, click on Edit Forwarding Addresses, and follow the instructions on the page. Be sure to log out of your account when you have finished. (For the full Email Communication Policy, go to

Disability Services:

If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and the Director of the Learning Resources Center, Dr. Lou Ann Sears, Room 240 Millstein Library Building (724) 836-7098 (voice) or los3 at as early as possible in the term. Learning Resources Center will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.