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Plan II Honors

Alexandra K Wettlaufer

ProfessorPhD, Columbia University

Acting Director, Plan II Honors Program
Alexandra K Wettlaufer


  • Phone: 471-1442,
  • Office: CLA 2.102, HRH 3.104C
  • Office Hours: T/TH 1-3 pm
  • Campus Mail Code: G3600


19th-century literature, visual arts, culture, and gender studies in France and Britain


Alexandra K. Wettlaufer is a Professor of French and Comparative Literature, specializing in 19th-century literature, visual arts, culture, and gender studies. A recipient of a 2014-15 Guggenheim Fellowship, Professor Wettlaufer is currently working on a book project entitled "Reading George: Sand, Eliot and the Novel in France and Britain, 1830-1900." She is the author of three previous books: Pen vs Paintbrush: Girodet, Balzac and the Myth of Pygmalion in Post-Revolutionary France (2001), In the Mind's Eye: The Visual Impulse in Diderot, Baudelaire and Ruskin (2003), and Portraits of the Artist as a Young Woman: Painting and the Novel in France and Britain, 1800-1860 (2011).  She has published numerous articles on Balzac, Sand, Baudelaire, Zola, Manet, Ruskin, Turner, Berlioz, Grandville, and Flora Tristan; her article "She is Me: Tristan, Gauguin, and the Dialectics of Colonial Identity" (Romanic Review,2007) was awarded the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association Essay Prize, Honorable Mention.  Professor Wettlaufer has received fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, ACLS, Bourse Marandon, the Clark Art Institute, and the National Humanities Center.  Her teaching awards include a President's Associates' Teaching Award, the Blunk Memorial Professorship in Teaching and Advising, a Raymond Dickson Centennial Endowed Teaching Award, a Liberal Arts Council Teaching Award, and University Coop Award for Undergraduate Thesis Advising.  She is the Co-Editor of Nineteenth-Century Contexts: An Interdisciplinary Journal and serves on the Editorial Boards of European Romantic Review, Nineteenth-Century Studies, George Sand Studies, and Dix-Neuf. Professor Wettlaufer has also served on the Advisory Boards of the American Comparative Literature Association, Nineteenth-Century French Studies Association, Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Association, and on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association.  Professor Wettlaufer is a core faculty member of Comparative Literature, Women's and Gender Studies, and European Studies.  She is the Associate Director of the Plan II Honors Program.


T C 603B • Compos And Read In World Lit

43545 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CRD 007B

TC 603
Spring 2010


Professor Alexandra K. Wettlaufer
WCH 4.104

Office Hours: T/TH 2:00-4:00

Required Texts

Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Honoré de Balzac, Old Goriot
Kate Chopin, The Awakening
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Camara Laye, The Dark Child
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis


1/19: Introduction


1/21: Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther

1/26: The Sorrows of Young Werther

1/28: Shelley, Frankenstein

2/2: Shelley, Frankenstein

2/4: Shelley, Frankenstein

2/9: Filmic Frankensteins: Condon’s Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein

2/11: Young Frankenstein and Gods and Monsters


2/16:  Balzac, Old Goriot
    Group Presentation 1: France 1789-1830

2/18:    Old Goriot  [Group 1 leads discussion]
    *Paper #1 due*

2/23:    Old Goriot

Naturalism/American Regionalism
2/25:    Kate Chopin, The Awakening
    Group 2 Presentation: America in the 1890s
3/2:    The Awakening [Group 2 leads discussion]
3/4:    The Awakening

3/9:    Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
    Group 3 Presentation: Women and Society, 1850-1920

3/11:    To the Lighthouse [Group 3 leads discussion]
3/15-3/21:   Spring Break

3/23:    To the Lighthouse
    *Paper #2 due*

Colonial/Post-colonial Africa
3/25:     Camara Laye, Dark Child
3/30:    Dark Child

Magical Realism
4/1:    Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold
    Group 4 Presentation: Colombia
4/6:    Chronicle of a Death Foretold [Group 4 leads discussion]

4/8:     Chronicle of a Death Foretold

4/11:    Plan II Thesis Symposium: Required Attendance

4/13:     Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
    Group 5 Presentation: India and Pakistan
4/15:    Midnight’s Children [Group 5 leads discussion]
    *Paper # 3 due*
4/20:    Midnight’s Children
4/22:    Midnight’s Children
4/27:    Midnight’s Children

4/29:    Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis
    Group 6 Presentation: Iran/Persia
5/4:    Persepolis [Group 6 leads discussion]

5/6: Course conclusion    

Course Requirements:

    This course will be conducted as a seminar; therefore students will be expected to attend every class fully prepared to participate in discussion of the texts. For each class meeting, students are required to post at least one question or comment on that day’s reading assignment on Blackboard no later than 10 am. Class participation, including Blackboard postings, will count for 20% of the final grade.  Each student will take part in a group presentation [no more than 10 minutes] providing historical/cultural background for one of the novels we are presenting.  The group will then lead discussion during the following class, linking some of what they have presented to the readings. A grade, assigned to the group, will count for 20% of the final course grade. Three short papers will be due during the course of the semester, one of which will be peer edited.  The grades for the papers and the peer editing will total 40% of the final grade.  A final paper, due during exam period, will be worth 20% of the course grade.  Late work will not be accepted.


Participation and Blackboard postings:    20%
Group Presentation and discussion:        20%
3 short papers and peer edit:            40%
Final paper:                    20%

Writing Assignments:

    The writing assignments will be divided into four different kinds of papers: thematic analysis; textual analysis; stylistic analysis/pastiche; and comparative analysis.

1. Thematic analysis: The first paper, due 18 February, will be a 3-4 page thematic analysis in which you will trace the ways a certain theme is developed in one of the Romantic novels and what purpose that theme serves in the larger scheme of the book as a whole.  

2. Textual analysis: The second paper, due 23 March, will be a 4-5 page textual analysis/close reading of a passage or scene from one of the Realist or Naturalist texts. [You may not choose a passage we have worked on in class.]  Here you will focus on the ways in which the author structures a scene and uses language, tropes, metaphors, description, etc. to create a certain effect or meaning, and how that reflects larger themes of the novel.  This paper will be peer edited.  We will discuss techniques of peer editing in class.  Both the first draft with peer edits and the final draft will be submitted.  Each student will receive a grade for editing and for his/her own paper.

3. Stylistic analysis or pastiche: The third paper, due 15 April, will be 5-6 pages focusing on one of the author’s style.  Students may choose here to write an analytic paper or a stylistic pastiche, in which they narrate a fictitious episode in the style of one of the authors we have read.  This creative exercise is harder than it appears and demands an intimate knowledge of the way an author writes.  It is also, however, a great way to understand the way style ‘works.’

4. Comparative analysis:  The final paper will be due 10 May and will be an 8 page paper contrasting aspects of two of the novels we have read.  Here you will develop your argument using analysis of themes, passages and style, building from the techniques you have used in your previous papers.  Approval for your final paper topic must be obtained no later than 1 May.

    The first three papers may be rewritten once; rewrites are due within a week after the papers have been returned.  No late work will be accepted.  Please follow the MLA Handbook for your style sheet.
    You are strongly encouraged to use the resources of the Undergraduate Writing Center in FAC 211.  They can help you with drafts, editing and rewrites.  


Wettlaufer, AK (2011) Portraits of the Artist as a Young Woman: Painting and the Novel in France and Britain, 1800-1860 (Columbus: Ohio University Press).

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2010) Artistic Self-Fashioning and Female Community: Travel Narratives and the Construction of Female Artistic Identity in the Nineteenth Century. In T. Mangum (Ed.), A Cultural History of Women in the Age of Empire. Oxford: Berg.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2010, March) Sisters in Art: Shaping Artistic Identity in Anna Mary Howitt's Fiction and Painting. Victorian Review


Wettlaufer, A.K. (2008, April) Hands Off: Gender, Anxiety, and Artistic Identity in the Atelier in Boilly, Mayer and Balzac. XIX: Journal of the Society of Dix-Neuviemistes, 10, 1-11.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2007, September) She is Me: Tristan, Gauguin and the Dialectics of Colonial Identity.  Romanic Review, 98(1), 23-50.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2007, September) Composing Romantic Identity: Berlioz and the Sister Arts. Romance Studies, 25(1), 45-58.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2004, September) Dibutades and her Daughters: The Female Artist in Post-Revolutionary France. Nineteenth-Century Studies, 18, 9-38.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2004) Sand, Musset and the Empire of Genius: Painting Difference in Elle et lui. In McCall-Saint-Saens (Ed.), George Sand et l'empire des lettres  New Orleans: Presses Univ.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2004, September) Girodet/Endymion/Balzac: Representation and Rivalry in Post-Revolutionary France. World & Image: A Journal of Verbal/Visual Enquiry, 17(4), 401-411.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2003) In the Mind's Eye: The Visual Impulse in Diderot, Baudelaire and Ruskin. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2001) Pen vs. Paintbrush: Girodet, Balzac and the Myth of Pygmalion in Postrevolutionary France. New York: Palgrave/St.Martin.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2000, September) The Sublime Rivalry of Word and Image: Turner and Ruskin Revisited. Victorian Literature and Culture, 28(1), 211-231.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (2000, September) Balzac and Sand: Sibling Rivalry and the Sisterhood of the Arts in Le Chef-d. George Sand Studies, 18, 65-85.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (1999, September) Absent Fathers, Martyred Mothers: Domestic Drama and (Royal) Family Values in A Graphic History of Louis the Sixteenth. Eighteenth Century Life, 23(3), 1-37.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (1999, September) Metaphors of Power and the Power of Metaphor: Zola, Manet and the Art of Portraiture. Nineteenth-Century Contexts, 21(3), 435-461.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (1996, September) Paradise Regained: The Flaneur, the Badaud, and the Aesthetics of Artistic Reception in Le Poeme du haschisch. Nineteenth-Century French Studies, 24(3-4), 388-397.

Wettlaufer, A.K. (1995, September) Ruskin and Laforgue: Visual/Verbal Dialectics and the Poetics/Politics of Montage. Comparative Literature Studies, 32(4), 514-535.

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