English 125A

The English Novel (Defoe through Scott)

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2009 Sorensen, Janet
Sorensen, Janet
MW 3-4 + Discussion F 3-4 141 McCone

Other Readings and Media

Haywood, E: Love in Excess; Defoe, D: Roxana; Richardson, S.: Pamela; Fielding, H. Shamela and Joseph Andrews; Lennox, C.: The Female Quixote; Walpole, H.: The Castle of Otranto; Austen, J.: Northanger Abbey; Scott, W.: The Bride of Lammermoor


As we read a variety of novels from the period credited with the “rise of the novel,” we shall consider what it was that might have been new about this form of writing. We shall be especially interested in tracking what it was that some found quite dangerous about it. Like surfing the internet, novel reading wasn’t something you wanted the ldquo; impressionable”—from teenagers to women—to do alone, or maybe at all. Might the perceived threat have had something to do with early novels’ connection to romance and the erotic and then with what one critic calls the “narrative transvestitism” of the early novel—in which men write books featuring female heroines who will describe, in an innovative, frank prose style, how a woman really feels? Highly conscious of these debates, eighteenth-century writers responded to them in their texts, while an emerging set of women writers also negotiated the tricky new terrain of writing for a public market. Some of these texts suggest rhetorical and thematic means of legitimating novel writing, appealing to (and sometimes transforming) moral discourse, creating hybrids of new and classical writing, deploying authorized genres of writing, such as history. Yet all of them resist easy divisions between legitimate and illegitimate, offering instead complex new forms of writing and, some would argue, consciousness; our work will be to identify and analyze some of these.

Requirements including willingness to engage in discussion, reading quizzes, a mid-term, two long papers.

This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

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