Course Syllabus

MA seminar, English 18th-Century Literature:

“Eighteenth-Century Media”

2012-13, Semester A                                         Instructor: Sören Hammerschmidt
Wed, 11.30-14.15                                               Office: Blandijn 3.33
Rozier Auditorium M                                           Office hours: Wed 9.30-11, or by apt
Ghent University                                                 Email: soren.hammerschmidt [at]

Required texts/materials:

Richardson, Samuel. Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2003. (available at Story-Scientia)
All other readings and visual materials are available on the Minerva course website as PDFs or online (links in the “Links” folder on the Minerva course website).

This course has two main objectives: to acquaint students with a selection of texts written in eighteenth-century Britain, and to introduce them to the broad range of media forms with which these texts interact or incorporate. The course thus expands on the survey of eighteenth-century literature that students will have encountered as part of their BA course work, and it aims to offer students a new perspective on the study of texts by placing them within the media landscapes of their period. In all of our readings, the term “intermediality” will feature prominently as we investigate how the various manifestations of “text” (oral, manuscript, and print) interact within the literature of the period and how that literature incorporates or intersects with other media forms (music, painting, gardening). We will accordingly ask questions that may initially appear unfamiliar: How can we compare the representations of landscape that a text offers with those of a painting? What is the difference between a text and a book, or between the oral, written, and printed iterations of a “text”? How does a text thematize its own history of production? Throughout the course, the form that something takes and the rules, restrictions, and opportunities that a chosen form or medium entails will take center stage in our analyses. Marshall McLuhan’s declaration that “the medium is the message” may not entirely circumscribe our readings, yet the contention that material form and medium matter to the production of meaning will form one of the central premises of our investigations.

Course Assignments and Teaching Elements

Attendance and Participation

Class is an opportunity for you to engage actively with the assigned texts through discussion and close reading. By sharing your ideas and questions with your peers, you will enrich your understanding of the readings: be sure to make fullest use of that opportunity! For that reason I encourage you to attend every scheduled class, and when you attend I expect you to show up with the texts assigned for that day, prepared to participate actively in class discussions. If you miss a class, you are still responsible for the material you missed, so be sure to get notes and other pertinent information from a classmate.

Blog Entry

We will jointly run a class blog as the public face of our course. At a time when higher education – and an education in the Humanities in particular – is increasingly coming under political and economic pressures, illustrating the relevance and interest of what we do to a wider public is becoming more urgent than ever before. Translating and animating our discussions of the intermediality of eighteenth-century texts for a general audience can be our contribution to this broader publication of ideas, and the digital medium of the blog will add yet another facet to our analysis of media forms.

Each week, a small group of students will be responsible for writing and posting a blog entry to the class blog – this is a part of class preparation and group work in connection with the analysis of texts. It will be especially important for each group to come well-prepared to the class in which we discuss their texts, and to pay particular attention to the in-class discussion – in fact, I will expect the members of each group to help lead and animate discussion on “their” day. Blog posts should be up by the end of the Sunday following discussion of their texts. The primary aim for these blog posts is not just to speak back to the class – and certainly not to merely repeat or summarize that week’s class discussion – but to make the texts and topics for that week interesting and relevant to a wide range of readers as well as, ideally, to elicit responses from those readers. Mode of presentation, theme, and angle of approach are entirely left to each group as long as each blog post engages closely and intelligently (however you may interpret that) with the texts assigned for that week.

Seminar Paper

Final examination for this course will be in the form of a seminar paper: a substantial discussion (c. 3,000 words) of one or more of the texts assigned in this class (or other appropriate texts from the period) with a research question of your own devising, though it should engage in one way or another with the course themes: eighteenth-century media forms and intermediality. In addition to any primary texts you may choose to discuss, I require you to make use of at least five secondary sources (i.e. scholarly articles, book chapters, or books) that will help you to support your own arguments; encyclopedic entries and plot summaries do not count as secondary sources. I encourage you to come talk to me early and often about your topics!

Make sure to format and prepare your paper in a manner appropriate to the presentation of scholarly material; MLA and Chicago Style are the most commonly used styles in literary studies (the UGent libraries own a number of their style guides, and we also have access to the online version of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers:; log-in details on Minerva) but above all please make sure you double-space your text and write in a 12-point standard font such as Times New Roman. Submission deadline: 5pm on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 (the last day of the last week of classes); one paper copy to be handed to me, and one electronic copy to be deposited in Dropbox (on the Minerva course website). Late submissions will not be accepted.

Important Note: You must complete all assignments to receive a passing grade in this class.

A Note on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism:

Submitting as your own work written even in part by someone else is plagiarism and will automatically result, when detected, in a failing grade for the course as well as notification of the appropriate departmental officials for possible additional disciplinary action. To avoid problems, please mark all quotations and identify their sources. You should also identify the sources of ideas that come from someone else even when they have been put into your own words.

For the official Ghent University regulations on academic conduct and plagiarism, see the Onderwijs- en examensreglement 2012-2013, especially Deel III, Afdeling V, Artikel 79 (pages 54-5).

And go here for a more detailed explanation of the forms of plagiarism, together with examples of how to avoid it.


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