E 328 • The English Novel in the Nineteenth Century
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
This course studies the Victorian novel and concentrates on works by most of the major figures in the period: the Brontês, Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy. We begin by looking at the cultural context in which the novels were written and by reading brief selections from non-fictional writers. In discussions of the novelists, we concentrate on why the novel became so popular as a form in the Victorian period, how the novelists tried to deal with questions of social identity, the emergence of the modern mind, and the predicaments of religious uncertainty. We also try to see how novelists use their art to discover "reality" and, especially, how they evoke the participation of the reader in such discovery.
There is a lot of reading in the course, all of it rich, engaging, and demanding. Students need to keep up with the reading since there is no room in the course for backtracking. It's helpful to have at least a minimum sense of the basic techniques of fiction: e.g., the difference between first and third person narration. Generally, I don't expect a lot of background.
Two 6-page essays 60%
5-page Take-home Final Essay Exam 30%
Quizzes and Participation 10%
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
George Eliot, Middlemarch
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations