Graham Law, SILS, Waseda University, Fall Term 2018

Intermediate Seminar 60:

British Popular Fiction at the Turn of the Twentieth Century


(1) Outline
The theme of this seminar is "British Popular Fiction at the Turn of the Twentieth Century". The main aim is to encourage students to read three popular novels during the course, at the rate of one every four weeks. These will be quite lengthy works but the language encountered will be relatively simple. Class work will be based on exercises to improve reading comprehension and to promote discussion of the cultural and moral issues raised by the stories. The novels to be read were all written in Britain around the turn of the twentieth century, and belong in turn to the genres of Science Fiction, the Adventure Story, and the Detective Story. We will be discussing the narrative contents in specific social, political and psychological contexts, with images of class, gender, and race among the focal points. Where appropriate, versions of the stories in other media (for example, TV and film dramatizations) will be made available, to promote thinking about the nature of literary form.

(2) Texts & Schedule

Week 1 Introductory session


Week 2

H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds (1898) Bk I chs 1-7
GL--Model Presentation


Week 3 ,, Bk I chs 8-12

Week 4 ,, Bk I chs 13-17

Week 5 ,, Bk II chs 1-6

Week 6
,, Bk II chs 7-10

Week 7 John Buchan Prester John (1910)  chs 1-5

GL--Model Presentation



Prester John Map

Week 8 ,, chs 6-11

Week 9 ,, chs 12-17

Week 10 ,, chs 18-23

Week 11 Agatha Christie The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) chs. 1-4
GL--Model Presentation




Week 12 ,, chs 5-8

Week 13 ,, chs 9-13

Week 14 Overview session on the three novels    WORKSHEET
Week 15 Final Submission/Individual consultation

You must obtain copies of the three books in questions. If you prefer, you can download electronic versions (in PDF format, probably containing a few formatting and typing errors) from the links below.

    H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds
John Buchan Prester John
    Agatha Christie The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Click on the links above for the DISCUSSION QUESTIONS for each session in Adobe PDF format
Click HERE for the PRESENTATION SCHEDULE for the whole term.

(3) Assessment

In addition to regular attendance and active participation, students will be required to give one presentation, and to write two book reports, plus a term-paper of around 1500 words. Click HERE for the Writing Assignment details. Grades will reflect attendance and class participation, as well as the fulfillment of formal presentation and writing assignments according to the following proportions:

Attendance & Participation:  30%
Presentation:                        20%
Writing Assignments:            50% [Book reports 2x10%; Term Paper 30%]   

(4) Contact

Office Hours: Tuesday Period 3 / Thursday Period 3
Office No: 11-1455

E-mail: [email protected]

Copyright (C) Graham Law, 2005-18. All rights reserved.
First drafted Wed 23 Mar 2005.
Last revised Mon 27 Aug 2018.

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