Reception History & Analysis:
Robinson's The Natural Daughter
LITR 414: "Romanticisms: British literature, 1770-1830"
Lisa M. Wilson, SUNY Potsdam
- Summarize & analyze the ways the novel was received by examining
the critical reviews written at the time it was published. (See Appendix
H of Setzer edition). What overall trends do you see in the reviews?
Do they agree with each other, or do they substantially differ? In what
ways? Why, do you think? What themes and artistic strategies do the reviewers
comment on? What other kinds of literary and social texts do the reviewers
mention in critiquing the novel? What kinds of terms do they use? What
is the significance of those choices, do you think? What critical points
of view do the reviewers take for granted? What cultural viewpoints do
they assume? How do those assumptions influence their reading of the
- Use the ideas in the reviews to develop an interpretation of the novel
itself. What scenes, specifically, do you think the reviewers are referring
to? Do you agree with their readings of those scenes? Why or why not?
- Note: Although I've separated out the questions that analyze
the reviews and those in which you'll develop a reading of the novel
itself, you may choose to organize your essay differently; say, for example,
by integrating your interpretation of the novel and your critique of
the reviews with your analysis of the reviews rather than writing two
- Essays should be at least four pages of text, not including
works cited page (at least 1,500 words). More is okay; fewer will reduce
your paper grade.
- Be sure to define any literary, poetic, or historical terms
- Develop an arguable thesis stating your interpretation and
point to specific details to support your thesis (from the
reviews and from the novel).
- Use MLA format (heading, margins, citations & works cited, etc.)
- You may develop your own topic only if I okay it beforehand.
If you use secondary sources other than Setzer's introduction to the
Broadview edition to construct your essay, you must provide me with hard
copies of the sources when you turn it in.
- Follow the SUNY Potsdam Honor Code: Essays must be wholly your own
work and written in response to this assignment; be sure to cite sources
fully & accurately.