Fin-de-siecle Tech

Fall 2013
Tuesdays, 7-9:30 pm
3001A Wescoe Hall

last updated: 8/21/13

Professor Kathryn Conrad
Office hours:  M-Th, 2-4 pm
Office phone: 4-2572
E-mail (best way to reach me): kconrad @
Course website:
Blackboard website (for discussion blogs, grades):

Skip to...[Course description & grading policy] [Other resources] [Reading and assignment schedule]    

Course description and texts:
This course will focus on British and Irish  literature of the late 19th century and early 20th centuries, a time of great technological innovation in a number of different arenas including media, transport, and weaponry. We will be focused in particular on the ways in which technologies such as telegraphy, electricity, printing, travel, and photography are figured in the literature and culture of the British Isles at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century through the first World War. Students who plan to specialize in American or other national literatures are encouraged to consider research projects that extend beyond the British Isles.  Students will be expected to write a short annotated bibliography, a one- to two-page research proposal, and a final seminar paper of approximately article length. Students will also be expected to participate in classroom discussion and to give an oral presentation of research in progress in the final two weeks of class. Click this link for book list, which is available for purchase at the bookstore or online: 

Grades consist of two major components:
1. 15%:  Attendance, participation in discussion (online and in class);
2. 85%:   annotated bibliography; prospectus; oral presentation; research paper (60%). Please see plagiarism policy below.  Full description of project(s) will be available on Blackboard.
Back to top of page

    Plagiarism is stealing and passing off someone else's ideas or words as one's own or using information from another's work without crediting the source.  Any detected cheating offense--including but not limited to plagiarism; the unauthorized use of crib sheets, texts, or other materials during an examination or quiz; the copying of another student's work (even with the permission or aid of that student, who is thereby culpable); the use of prewritten essays (the student's own or someone else's); the uncredited adoption of another writer's interpretation of a work; the copying of all or part of  websites; or the unauthorized use of work written for another assignment or class--will be reported to the University. A record of each verified offense will be kept throughout the student's association with the University (Adopted from FSE statement).
     Plagiarism is not a game, nor is it simply a "shortcut" when time presses.  It is a very serious form of academic misconduct and will be treated as such in this class. When you consult outside sources for ideas--through published or unpublished essays, interviews, the Internet, conversation, etc.--you must cite those sources clearly in your work. I understand that academic work can be daunting: if you are struggling with an assignment, are unclear about my expectations, or are behind on your work, please consult me. There is always a better path than plagiarism; I can work with you to help you find your own voice while incorporating others' ideas appropriately. If after reading the statement above, you are still unclear about what constitutes plagiarism, ask me BEFORE turning in an assignment.
    A plagiarized  assignment will result in failure of the assignment (no credit given); it also impacts your larger course grade more than a paper that merely receives an F, and will usually result in failure of the course. The Department of English has a zero-tolerance policy on plagiarism. Formal records are currently kept by the Department of English and the Graduate School.

Back to top of page

Reading and assignment schedule 

    This schedule is likely to change.  For the most accurate reading and assignment schedule, pay attention to updates given in class.  Updates will eventually be reflected on this website.  
    All readings should be completed by the day listed on the syllabus.  Online discussions are listed on the date on which they are likely to start; the due date for participating in the discussion for credit is listed in parentheses (although of course you are welcome to discuss beyond the deadline). 

August 27: Introduction.
Course outline and goals. 

"Introduction" to Vibrant Matter, Jane Bennett, via Bb.
"Introduction:  Writing Things Down, Storing Them Up," Scripts, Grooves, and Writing Machines, Lisa Gitelman, via Bb.

September 3:  Cameras
Amy Levy, The Romance of a Shop.
Articles: Introduction; Appendix A:  Contemporary Reviews; Appendix D: The Woman Question; Appendix E: Victorian Photography. (Introduction and back matter in Broadview edition.)
Article: "A Democracy of the Image: Photographic Portraiture and Commodity Production," John Tagg, via Bb.

Recommended sites:  
National Media Museum (UK), Royal Photographic Society photographs by date,
Victorian Post-Mortem Photography,

September 10: (cont.)
Amy Levy, The Romance of a Shop.
Article: "A Literature of Its Own:  Time, Space, and Narrative Mediations in Victorian Photography," Daniel Novak, via Bb.

September 17: 
Selections from Lightning Flashes and Electric Dashes: A Volume of Choice Telegraphic Literature, Humor, Fun, Wit, & Wisdom,  online at
Article:  "Telegraphy's Corporeal Fictions," Katherine Stubbs, via Bb.

September 24: Typewriters
Grant Allen (under pseudonym), The Type-writer Girl
Article: "Sister of the Type: The Feminist Collective in Grant Allen's The Type-writer Girl," S. Brooke Cameron, via Bb.
Website:  The Virtual Typewriter Museum,

October 1: Kodaks, Trains, Telegraphs, Phonographs...
Bram Stoker, Dracula
Article: "Vampiric Typewriting: Dracula and its Media," Jennifer Wicke, via Bb.

October 8: (cont.)
Bram Stoker, Dracula
Annotated bibliography due

October 15:
FALL BREAK; class does not meet

October 22: Bicycles
HG Wells, "The Wheels of Chance: A Bicycling Idyll," online at

October 29: Imagined Aeroplanes, Imagined War Machines
HG Wells, The War in the Air
Recommended: Wells, "Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought"
Prospectus due.

November 5: (cont.)
HG Wells, The War in the Air
Article: excerpt from Voices Prophesying War, Clarke, via Bb.

November 12: Imagined Machines
E.M. Forster, "The Machine Stops," online at
Marinetti, Futurist Manifesto,

November 26: TBA/catch-up

December 3:
Research presentations.

December 10: Last day. 
Research presentations.

December 17: 
Final paper due.

[Back to top of page]
[Back to top of reading and assignment schedule]