English 545/445:  Major Authors—Henry James & Joseph Conrad     
Spring 2015
Updated May 7, 2015

Blackboard Access

Useful Links

Richard Ruppel    
Thursdays, 4-6:50 pm. Smith Hall, 217
Office428 N. Glassell, 101
Phone(714) 997-6754 (Office)
Office HoursMonday & Wednesday, 1-2:30pm, & by appointment 

Course Description & Goals: 

Henry James (1843-1916) and Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) are often linked.  James, identified most often as a literary realist, anticipated modernism, and Conrad, an early modernist, took up many of James’s themes and techniques.  They knew and admired each other’s work; Conrad called James his “master.”

Our goal will be to explore four novels and several novellas and stories by James and Conrad, more-or-less in chronological order.  We’ll analyze their major themes:  the clash of cultures; modern alienation; the limits of knowledge; the difficulty of communication and intimacy between people, and other themes a long-time reader might have missed.  As an artist, James is known for his trans-Atlantic novels and stories, and for his wonderful (and sometimes painfully detailed) explorations of consciousness.  Conrad is best known for his work with certain literary techniques:  the unreliable narrator, a form of impressionism known as “delayed decoding,” and, especially, his elaborate explorations of epistemology, of how we know what we know.  I'm at work on a book concerned with neuroscience and literature, so I'll be especially interested in what we learn about our authors’ representations of memory, of consciousness, of how the body expresses thoughts and emotions, and of the ways James’s and Conrad’s techniques mimic and reveal particular mental processes. 

To understand their ideas and art, we’ll need help, so we’ll consult the extensive criticism devoted to their work, along with biographies and histories. 

Required Texts:

Henry James

Major Stories and Essays.  Library of America
The Portrait of a Lady. Norton
The Bostonians.  Penguin

Joseph Conrad

The Portable Conrad.  Penguin
Lord Jim.  Norton

Instructional Strategies:  I’ll give mini-lectures, especially when we start a new story or novel, and we’ll engage in the usual discussions that typify literature classes.  But we’ll also work together in groups, and I’ll ask you to develop an expertise in a particular area and present your findings, either individually or as part of a group, during the last third of the semester. 

Course Requirements: 

Attendance:  Please make every effort to attend class.  Missing more than two sessions will adversely affect your grade, and students who miss three or more classes will fail the course.

Communication:  Whether online or in class, please be courteous and constructive.  I receive a large number of emails, so when emailing, please identify the course (445/545), your last name, and the subject in the subject line.  I will respond promptly to your emails; please respond promptly to mine. 

Essays:  We will discuss criteria for the essays, and I will provide an essay description with suggested topics several weeks before the due dates.  These essays should be submitted in hard copy and electronically, sent directly to my email address: ruppel@chapman.edu  (Please don't use the Blackboard Drop-Box.)  Both essays must include citations to at least two secondary sources. 

Late essays will receive reduced grades, and I will not accept papers submitted more than a week late unless you provide a convincing explanation.  To pass ENG 445/545, you must complete both essays.  If you are having difficulty completing a paper or a Blackboard post, let me know. 

I will accept a revision of one of your essays, but you must schedule a conference with me to discuss that revision before you submit it.  I will average the grade of the original paper and the revision. 

Before each paper is due, graduate students will be asked to discuss their research and conclusions with the class.  


              Participation *:  20%
              **Essay 1:  25%  (5-7 pp. for UG, 8-10 pp. for Grad) Due March 19
              **Essay 2:  30% (6-8 pp. for UG, 10-12 pp. for Grad)  Due May 14
              Final:  25%

**Students who do not submit both essays will fail the course. 

*The “Participation” grade is primarily your grade on responses to the Blackboard Discussion assignments.  Here are my criteria for evaluating your responses:

1. The response should respond as specifically as possible to the prompt (or you should indicate why you’re modifying the prompt).

2. The response should reveal close engagement with the work(s) under discussion.


3. The posting should contribute to the discussion, so later postings should not simply repeat earlier postings, and they should reflect some engagement with earlier postings. 

4. Responses should be substantive. 

Computers in class:  If you use a computer to take class notes, you may use a computer in class.  Computers may only be used for class purposes.  Otherwise, they should stay closed. 

English Literature Program Learning Objectives English 445 is one of the electives you may take to fulfill the English literature, creative writing, or journalism majors and minors.  In the discussion board responses, formal essays, and essay exams, you will have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate the English Literature Program Learning Objectives listed below: 

1.  Skill in critical reading, or the practice of identifying and interpreting the formal, rhetorical, and stylistic features of a text


2.  Ability to identify and compare key literary movements and genres


3.  Ability to explain and apply significant theoretical and critical approaches in the field of English studies


4.  Skill in writing grammatically, coherently, and persuasively


5.  Skill in finding, analyzing, and utilizing secondary sources (including the appropriate methods of citation)


6.  Skill in crafting a compelling thesis-driven essay, with substantiating evidence


Chapman University Academic Integrity Policy

Chapman University is a community of scholars that emphasizes the mutual responsibility of all members to seek knowledge honestly and in good faith.  Students are responsible for doing their own work, and academic dishonesty of any kind will be subject to sanction by the instructor and referral to the university's Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose additional sanctions up to and including dismissal.  (See the "Undergraduate Catalog" for the full policy.)  We will discuss the proper way to incorporate sources into your writing as you prepare the first essay.  

Chapman's Students with Disabilities Policy:

In compliance with ADA guidelines, students who have any condition, either permanent or temporary, that might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the beginning of the term. The University, through the Disability Services Office, will work with the appropriate faculty member who is asked to provide the accommodations for a student in determining what accommodations are suitable based on the documentation and the individual student needs. The granting of any accommodation will not be retroactive and cannot jeopardize the academic standards or integrity of the course.

Please see me if you have ANY concerns about completing any of the requirements of this course


Chapman’s Equity and Diversity Policy:

Chapman University is committed to ensuring equality and valuing diversity.  Students and professors are reminded to show respect at all times as outlined in Chapman’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy.  Any violations of this policy should be discussed with the professor, the Dean of Students and/or otherwise reported in accordance with this policy. 

Course Outline*:

Week 1:  February 5 – Introductions and course business.
Week 2:  February 12 – Daisy Miller (1878)
Week 3:  February 19 – The Portrait of a Lady (1881)
Week 4:  February 26 – The Portrait of a Lady  
Week 5:  March 5 – The Turn of the Screw (1898)
Week 6:  March 12 – The Bostonians (1886) 
Week 7:  March 19 – The Bostonians [
Essay 1 due, 5-7 or 8-10 pages.]

                                                    Spring Break!

Week 8:  April 2 – The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ (1897)  
Week 9:  April 9 – Heart of Darkness (1899)
Week 10:  April 16 – Lord Jim (1900) (
no class – I’ll be at a conference)    
Week 11:  April 23 – Lord Jim
Week 12:  April 30 – The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (1907)
Week 13:  May 7 – The Secret Agent
Week 14:  May 14 – Short Stories, course wrap-up and preparation for the final.  [
Essay 2 due, May 14.  6-8 or 10-12 pages.]
Week 15:  
Final. Thursday, May 21, 4:15-6:45pm. 

*We may decide to alter this schedule.  I will make any changes online and give you plenty of notice. 


February 12:  Read Daisy Miller, pp. 3-60 in James’s Major Stories and Essays.  Respond to the Blackboard question by 11am February 12. 

February 19:  Read the first volume of James’s The Portrait of a Lady (pp. 17-253).  By 11am Thursday, respond to one of the questions in Blackboard. 

February 26:  Finish The Portrait of a Lady and “The Preface to the New York Edition,” and respond to the Blackboard Discussion question by 11am Thursday. 

March 5:  Read The Turn of the Screw and by 11am Thursday, respond to one of the Blackboard questions. 

March 12:  Read the first 23 chapters of The Bostonians (through page 173).  Bring your ideas for your first essays, due March 19. 

March 19:  Finish The Bostonians.  Bring hard copies of your essays (5-7 pages for undergrads, 8-10 for grads).  Please send me an electronic copy as well. 

April 2:  Read The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ (53-176 in The Portable Conrad).  Answer the question in Blackboard, which asks that you make one observation and raise one question about the novella’s politics. 

April 9:  Read Heart of Darkness (277-363).  Answer the question on Blackboard, which asks you to make one observation and raise one question about the novella. 

April 16:  Read Lord Jim.  Answer the question on Blackboard, which asks you to make one observation and raise one question about the novel.

April 23:  Respond on Blackboard to one of your classmate’s questions and to one observation. 

April 30:  Read The Secret Agent and respond to the Blackboard question by 11am on the 30th.

May 7:  Bring ideas for your second essay. 

May 14:  Develop two exam questions, one each on James and Conrad, and post these on Blackboard.  Graduate students:  develop a third on both.  Read one Conrad short story and be prepared to discuss it in class. Send an electronic copy of the second essay to me, and bring a hard copy to class. 

Useful Links

·         Leatherby Library Literature Databases


Daisy Miller

·         IMDb Daisy Miller (1974)

·         A comparison of the texts of the 1879 and 1909 versions of Daisy Miller, by Richard Hathaway. 

The Portrait of a Lady

·         Gutenberg Volume I. 

·         Gutenberg Volume II. 

·         The Homepage of the Cambridge Edition. 

·         IMDb The Portrait of a Lady (1996).  Trailer. 

The Turn of the Screw

·         E-text from the University of Virginia. 

·         Brad Leithauser’s fine analysis of the story for The New Yorker. 

·         Edward Parkinson’s history of the criticism of the story, which is also a history of literary criticism. 

·         Scene from the 1999 BBC television adaptation, with Colin Firth and Jodhi May. 

·         The Innocents, the entire 1961 adaptation with Deborah Kerr as the governess – a much admired film.  

The Bostonians

·         IMDB The Bostonians (1984) Trailer. 

·         Gutenberg online Vol I Bostonians.  Volume II. 

·         Alice James (1848-1892) and Katharine Peabody Loring (1839-1943), likely models for Verena and Olive. 

Miscellaneous Sites

·         A timeline of James’s life. 

·         The Henry James Scholar’s Guide to Web Sites. 

·         James’s tragic, homoerotic tale of a boy and his tutor: “The Pupil


The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’

·         Full text of Jerome Buckley's William Ernest Henley:  A Study of the "Counter-Decadence" of the 'Nineties.  Henley edited The New Review, where Conrad first published The Nigger of the "Narcissus." 

Heart of Darkness:

·         A history (timeline) of the Congo Free State – 1876-1908

·         Charles Stokes (the missionary/trader hanged in the Congo Free State in 1895). 

Lord Jim

·         Wreck Report of the Jeddah, the ship on which Conrad based the Patna. 

The Secret Agent

·         Article in Slate about references to The Secret Agent after the World Trade Center bombings. 

·         Trailer from the 1996 film. 



·         Conrad’s tragic, homoerotic tale of an older man being blackmailed: “Il Conde.” 

·         Nearly all of Conrad's texts are available online.  Check this Gutenberg site. 

·         "Conrad First:  The Joseph Conrad Periodical Archive."  A remarkable resource created and maintained by Stephen Donovan at the Uppsala University, Sweden.  Featuring photographs of the periodicals and books where Conrad's works first appeared.  Approximately 40,000 pages of text. 

·         The Joseph Conrad Society of America.   

·         The Joseph Conrad Society, UK.  Including resources for students.

·         "Conrad under California Skies" conference.   

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