Category Archives: Gaskell, Elizabeth

This Week In My Classes: The Comforts of Cranford

We’ve started our discussions of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford in 19th-Century Fiction, and like last week’s reading, it has special resonance in these turbulent times, but not because it is a call to action: more because it provides a refuge. This is not to say that it’s “escapist” in the pejorative way that term is often applied, or […]

“If You Can Get It”: David Lodge, Nice Work

“Maybe the universities are inefficient, in some ways. Maybe we do waste a lot of time arguing on committees because nobody has absolute power. But that’s preferable to a system in which everybody is afraid of the person on the next rung of the ladder above them, where everybody is out for themselves, and fiddling […]

This Week In My Classes: Mercy and Tenderness in “Lizzie Leigh”

Our reading for today in The Victorian ‘Woman Question’ was Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1850 short story “Lizzie Leigh.” We’re reading it at the end of a cluster of other works that deal with ‘fallen women,’ including Aurora Leigh, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “Jenny,” Augusta Webster’s “A Castaway,” and Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” (which, we agreed, is certainly about women and sexual […]

Clear Conscience, Brave Heart, Can’t Lose! Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters

A good friend of mine has been making a long, difficult recovery from not one but two concussions. You hear about these injuries all the time — or you do, at least, in a country as hockey-obsessed as Canada — but (perhaps because hockey players are rashly determined to get back on the ice a.s.a.p.?) […]

“This extraordinary colloquy”: Sylvia Townsend Warner, Summer Will Show

I picked up Summer Will Show on my trip to Boston a couple of years ago. It caught my eye then because not long before we had run a good essay on Sylvia Townsend Warner in Open Letters. I’ve read most of the books from that trip but until now, not Summer Will Show. I think I put it off because […]

This Week In My Classes: Cranford and The Road

The honeymoon is over. At the beginning of every term things putter along easily enough while I wonder why I felt so stressed out at the end of the previous term … and then marking starts to come in, and the new assignment sequences dreamed up over the break loom on the horizon and require […]

This Week In My Classes: The Importance of Being Earnest

The thing is, though Wilde means it ironically and makes it seem very funny, I think it is important to be earnest–not all the time, maybe, but in essence, and certainly about important things. And the move from Gaskell’s Mary Barton to Wilde’s play in my survey class this week really made me feel that […]

This Week in My Classes: Worlds in Crisis–Mary Barton and P. D. James

After last week’s big effort towards launching the students in my survey class on their research assignments, we spent our first two classes this week with Mary Barton: no PowerPoint, no overheads, just me, them, and the novel. My impression (though it is necessarily impressionistic, since I can’t even really focus on most of their […]

Gaskell, “The Old Nurse’s Story”

I’m in the thick of my summer course: it’s hard to believe that we’ve already covered Pride and Prejudice, “The Two Drovers,” and Jane Eyre. I have a great group of students–they seem very engaged and a significant proportion of them are contributing with gusto to class discussion. But the assignments are starting to come […]

This Week in My Classes (September 22, 2009)

Nearly two weeks in, we’ve moved past the throat-clearing stage in both of my classes and are deep into our first novels. In The Nineteenth-Century British Novel from Dickens to Hardy I’m leading off with Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South this year. Last time I taught it I opened with Trollope’s The Warden, which I […]

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