Fall 2021 - ENGL 320 E100

The Long Eighteenth Century and the Romantic Era (4)

Women of the Eighteenth Century

Class Number: 4368

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    BLU 9655, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Michelle Levy
    1 778 782-5393
  • Prerequisites:

    30 units or two 200 division English courses.



The study of literature and culture between c. 1660 and 1830, Texts may be drawn from a variety of media, forms, and genres, and may address issues of gender, race, class, national identity, and more. This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught.


Eminent Women of the Long Eighteenth Century 

This course will take the form of an extended group project focused on an album of letters by “Eminent Women,” collected by a London librarian and self-professed sufferer of “autographic mania,” William Upcott. Compiled during the early decades of the nineteenth century, the album includes letters by 48 women, many of whom were writers with a public reputation, though the women represented in the album range widely in terms of the kind of writing they engaged in and their class, religious and sexual identities. The album therefore reflects a period of rising opportunities for women writers in Britain, as their contributions to literature began to be recognized and their handwritten manuscripts collected, preserved, and valued. In this course, students will engage with the album through a digital facsimile of it and conversations with the archivist at the New York Public Library, where the album is held. As a class, students will be involved in transcribing the album’s contents and contextualizing the letters through research into the women who are represented in its pages and their writing in letters and other literary genres. We will also explore the practice of letter writing and its importance to women; the involvement of women in the publication of their writing; what made a woman “eminent” at the time and how they negotiated fame; and how and why handwritten documents came to be collected during this period. Students can expect to learn transcription and editing skills and to be engaged in original and independent research. The goal will be to collect the material produced to contextualize the album contents in an online platform (to be determined).

Course readings will involve short selections from most of the women in the album.  Some of the best-known authors include Anna Barbauld, Frances Brooke, Elizabeth Carter, Maria Edgeworth, Elizabeth Fry, Felicia Hemans, Elizabeth Montagu, Hannah More, Charlotte Smith and Helen Maria Williams. However, these women represent less than a quarter of the women to be studied. Each week, students can expect to read short selections by three to four women and a scholarly essay or podcast. All readings will be linked on the course’s canvas site.



  • Participation and Presentations 25%
  • Transcription of letter(s) with an explanatory headnote and annotations 15%
  • Biographical essay (related to the letter): ~1500 words 15%
  • Essay about a book written by the subject (or other accomplishment) of the biography: ~1500 words 15%
  • Final research project (including a proposal): alternative formats like podcast, video, and creative productions are encouraged 30%


This will be an interactive and project-based course. Students will be expected to share their research and writing with their classmates and to work together as a team.



All course materials will be supplied in Canvas.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.