ENGL 3856 Topics in Genre Studies


Teresa Nugent, Ph.D.

Email: teresa.nugent@colorado.edu


Do you ever wonder where mysteries, detective stories, and horror fiction came from? This course explores the origins of many of your favorite fiction genres in nineteenth-century British novels. Readings include Jane Austen’s parody of the Gothic novel, Northanger Abbey, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, one of the most popular 19th c. sensation novels, Lady Audley’s Secret, two foundational works of detective fiction, The Moonstone and The Sign of Four, and the classic horror tale, Dracula!

ENGL 3856 (section 581) studies special topics in genre and is specifically designed for English majors. Topics vary each semester. May be repeated for a total of 6 credit hours for different topics. This course is an online course that studies the genre of the novel through the lens of popular nineteenth-century British fiction. Prerequisites: Restricted to students with 27-180 credits (Sophomores, Juniors, or Seniors).


By the end of the semester, students who actively participate in course activities and apply themselves to reading and writing assignments will be able to perform the following tasks:

  • Identify literary conventions associated with specific subgenres of the novel, including Gothic, Bildungsroman, sensation, mystery, detective, and horror fiction.
  • Identify and interpret literary devices and narrative strategies and practice close reading of literary texts.
  • Identify and analyze significant historical and biographical events that influenced the development of novels in nineteenth-century Britain.
  • Summarize and critique scholarship on British literature and narrative theory, and use this scholarship to interpret literary texts.
  • Improve your analytical writing skills through frequent composition of short answers and essays that formulate and defend interpretations of specific texts.


  • The following novels have been ordered at the CU Bookstore. There also are editions of these works available for free online.
  • Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey. Penguin Classics, 2003. ISBN: 978-0141439792
  • Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret. Oxford UP, 2012. ISBN: 978-0199577033
  • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre. Penguin Classics, 2006. ISBN: 978-0141441146
  • Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone. Penguin Classics, 1999. ISBN: 978-0140434088
  • Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four. Dover Classics, 2003. ISBN: 978-0486431666
  • Bram Stoker, Dracula. WW Norton, 1996. ISBN 9780393970128


Course Quiz 3%
Eight Sets of Discussion Posts 48% (6% each)
Paper 1 16%
Paper 2 17%
Final Exam 16%


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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado