Rise of the Novel
The English novel as we know it began to emerge in the eighteenth century. But in its formative years, the novel was not yet a settled form or a coherent literary genre; it encompassed a staggering variety of competing strategies for fictional storytelling—some still in use today, others now largely abandoned. We'll examine a representative sampling of these early novels: their treatments of plot and character, experiments with structure, and movements toward (or total lack of interest in) formal realism. We'll discuss, too, the ways in which these novels represent competing claims about what the novel can and should be and do, and the afterlife of the strategies developed by early novelists.
The reading load in this course is demanding; consider carefully before committing to any other courses with heavy reading.
In Spring 2012, we'll be reading
- Aphra Behn, The Fair Jilt and Oroonoko (1688)
- Samuel Richardson, Pamela (1740)
- Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (1764)
- Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1760-1767)
- Frances Burney, Evelina (1778)
- Ann Radcliffe, A Sicilian Romance (1790)
- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1796/1813)
I'm still really bummed that I wasn't able to make room for Fielding's Tom Jones. It's widely regarded as one of the most perfectly plotted novels ever written, and it's hilarious. You should read it.
Class members will write two 6-10 page formal papers for this course. A draft and a meeting with me are required for the first paper and encouraged for the second paper. In addition, there will be three short (2-3 pages) and relatively informal response papers, each responding to a different novel; a brief annotated bibliography, which will be both submitted in writing and presented informally to the class; and a brief class presentation about a social practice, historical event, or element of material culture relevant to one or more of our readings.
last updated: Saturday, 01-Mar-2014 15:15:15 CST