LIT 116G: Victorian Monsters Syllabus

LIT 116G: Monsters and Literature

Victorian Monsters

Instructor Tara Thomas – Summer Session II

July 27th to August 28th, 2020

Date: 7/29-8/30/20                              Email:

MW 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.                     Office Hours: MW 3-4 p.m.

Location: Zoom                      

            Zoom Link & Password TBA

Required Texts:

  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein 
    ISBN: 019953716X
  • Course Reader (available on Canvas)

Course Description: 

In Monster Theory, Jeffrey Cohen writes that “[t]he monster is born only at this metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment—of a time, a feeling, a place.” In this course, we will consider how the Victorians’ construction of monstrosity reflects their particular historical moment, characterized by industrialization, colonization, and scientific development. Through a critical examination of monsters in literature, we will explore anxieties, fears, and ideals of Victorian society, paying close attention to issues of gender, sexuality, class, race, empire, scientific, and technology. 

Course Goals:

As an upper-division course, this class is designed to provide an introduction to critical reading and writing while providing the opportunity to study the literary topic of monsters in literature within the historical and social context of nineteenth-century England. Throughout the course, we will develop these skills in order to provide you with the following outcomes:

  • to develop higher-order reading skills
  • to read and listen attentively
  • to think critically and analytically
  • to produce and evaluate interpretations
  • to access evidence and to deploy it effectively in your own work
  • to identify and to understand how and whether a text achieves its aim

These outcomes have been adapted from the Academic Senate’s Textual Analysis and Interpretation (TA) General Education requirement.

Course Responsibilities and Final Grading:

Because this is an intensive summer course, you will be responsible for an estimated 30 hours of course-related work per week. You will be accountable for having effectively prepared for each class, and I will help motivate you to stay on top of the reading by giving weekly reading quizzes.   

Your final grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  • Take Home Final Exam                                                                                  30%
  • Close Reading Assignment                                                                            15%
  • Monster Creative Assignment                                                                                    15%
  • Monster Film Adaptation Assignment                                                           15%
  • Attendance                                                                                                      10%
  • Participation                                                                                                   15%

Close Reading Exercise: DUE AUG 8th

(2 pages, single spaced)  Details for this exercise in close reading will be provided, but essentially this is an assignment in the hyperbolically slow apprehension of a textual artifact.  Your task will be to take time to appreciate this object in all its dynamic specificity: terms, tips, and helpful suggestions will be provided.  You are not meant to argue but to read: your job is to notice everything.  Details to be announced.

Monster Creative Assignment: DUE AUG 15th

This assignment asks you to apply your knowledge from the primary and secondary readings we’ve read thus far to invent your own monster. You will create a visual representation of the monster and provide a 500-1000 word creative-critical short essay explaining the theoretical underpinning of your project.

Monster Adaptation Assignment: DUE AUG 22nd

This will be a film review of a Victorian monster movie of your choice that provides a commentary on how the movie adapts the literary version. This can be one of the texts from our syllabus or another Victorian text you are familiar with. 500-1000 words. 


Because this is an intensive summer course, you are required to attend all lectures. More than two unexcused absences will result in a failing grade. Attendance will be worth 10% of your final grade, while the other 5% will be based on your participation in class. In the case of an absence, please contact your small group members to get up-to-date on what you missed.


There will be a separate participation grade that will be evaluated based on your level of active engagement in class. This grade will take into consideration your interaction in your designated small group, your attentiveness and participation in lectures, large and small group discussions, and class activities. 

Assignment Submission Policy:

All assignments must be submitted in order to pass this class. Please submit your work on time; I will deduct a letter grade for each day of unapproved lateness. Extensions will be granted only under extenuating circumstances and must be approved 24 hours in advance unless in the case of emergency.

DRC Remote Accommodations:

The Disability Resources Center reduces barriers to inclusion and full participation for students with disabilities by providing support to individually determine reasonable academic accommodations. If you have questions or concerns about exam accommodations or any other disability-related matter, please contact the DRC office at 831-459-2089 or

Academic Dishonesty

Academic integrity is the cornerstone of a university education. Academic dishonesty diminishes the university as an institution and all members of the university community. It tarnishes the value of a UCSC degree. All members of the UCSC community have an explicit responsibility to foster an environment of trust, honesty, fairness, respect, and responsibility. All members of the university community are expected to present as their original work only that which is truly their own. All members of the community are expected to report observed instances of cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty in order to ensure that the integrity of scholarship is valued and preserved at UCSC.

In the event a student is found in violation of the UCSC Academic Integrity policy, he or she may face both academic sanctions imposed by the instructor of record and disciplinary sanctions imposed either by the provost of his or her college or the Academic Tribunal convened to hear the case. Violations of the Academic Integrity policy can result in dismissal from the university and a permanent notation on a student’s transcript.

For the full policy and disciplinary procedures on academic dishonesty, students and instructors should refer to the Academic Integrity page at the Division of Undergraduate Education.

Title IX:

The university cherishes the free and open exchange of ideas and enlargement of knowledge. To maintain this freedom and openness requires objectivity, mutual trust, and confidence; it requires the absence of coercion, intimidation, or exploitation. The principal responsibility for maintaining these conditions must rest upon those members of the university community who exercise most authority and leadership: faculty, managers, and supervisors.

The university has therefore instituted a number of measures designed to protect its community from sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other related prohibited conduct. Information about the Title IX Office, the online reporting link, applicable campus resources, reporting responsibilities, the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, and the UC Santa Cruz Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Reports of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment can be found at  

The Title IX/Sexual Harassment Office is located at 105 Kerr Hall. In addition to the online reporting option, you can contact the Title IX Office by calling 831-459-2462.

Small Groups:

You will be assigned a small group with whom you will work throughout the term. This group will be your ‘go to’ group for group discussions and activities. In the case of an absence, please contact your small group members to get up to date on what you missed.

Contacting the Instructor and Teaching Assistant:

Tara will be available during office hours from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in Hum 1 room 329 MW. Emails will be answered within 24 hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. If you have questions related to the assignments, please be sure to ask well in advance.

Writing Support:

There are several UCSC Writing Centers on campus that can provide you with writing support for your two writing assignments this term. Because this is an intensive course, I request that you visit one of the Writing Centers on campus for writing-related questions and help on your drafts. The TA and I will be available during office hours for course content-related questions but will be unable to read drafts of your assignments.

Due Dates and Reading Schedule

MondayJuly 27thIntroduction to Course:  Lewis Carroll, “Jabberwocky” (in class)
Alfred Tennyson, “The Kraken” In Class Activity: Jabberwocky Icebreaker  Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “Monster Culture: Seven Theses” (in class)
WednesdayJuly 29stVictorians and Classical Monstrosity: Historicizing the Monster 

Clemence Housman, “The Were-Wolf”
MondayAugust 3rd  The Victorian Gothic: Nineteenth-Century Psychological Aesthetics 

Elizabeth Gaskell, “The Old Nurse’s Story” (prioritize)Vernon Lee, “Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady” In-Class Film Screening: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
WednesdayAugust 5th Monsters of the Market: Gender and Capitalism Christina Rossetti, “Goblin Market”Karl Marx, Das Kapital (excerpt) In Class Activity: Goblin Market Illustrations Comparative Analysis 
SaturdayAugust 8thClose Reading Assignment due by 11:59 p.m. on Canvas
MondayAugust 10thThe Making of the Modern Monstrous Body: Romanticism, Occultism, and Psychoanalysis In Class Activity: P.B. Shelley’s Mont Blanc and M. Shelley’s Sublime Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
WednesdayAugust 12th Ideological Influences: Reading Wollstonecraft and Godwin in FrankensteinMary Shelley, Frankenstein 

Film Screening: Frankenstein (1931)
Saturday August 15thMonsters Creative Assignment due by 11:59 p.m. on Canvas
MondayAugust 17thPerspective, Narrative, and Adaptation

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein 

Film Screening: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
WednesdayAugust 19th  Imperial Encounters: Frankenstein, the Franklin Expedition, and Artic Exploration Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

In Class Activity: Digitally Mapping Frankenstein 
Saturday August 22nd Monster Adaptation Assignment due by midnight on Canvas
MondayAugust 24thEgyptomania and Curse of the Mummy Literature: Arthur Conan Doyle, “Lot 249”Michael Field, “The Mummy Invokes His Soul” In Class Activity: Transcribing and Annotating Michael Field’s Mummy Sonnets  Film Screening: The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)
WednesdayAugust 26thVampiric Desires

Lord Byron, The Giaour (selections)Bram Stoker, “Dracula’s Guest” In-Class Film Screening: The Vampire Lovers (1970)  
SaturdayAugust 29thFinal exam due by 11:59 p.m. on Canvas
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