English 180N

The Novel: The Novel as a Literary Genre


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2015 Hale, Dorothy J.
Note new time: MW 2:30-4 Note new location: 301 Wheeler

Book List

Dickens, Charles: Bleak House; Eliot, George: Middlemarch; James, Henry: The Portrait of a Lady; Robbe-Grillet: Jealousy; Woolf, Virginia: To the Lighthouse

Description

Henry James, writing in 1888, describes his cultural moment as a time of remarkable transformation in the production and reception of the English language novel.  At the beginning of the century, James observes, “there was a comfortable, good-humoured feeling abroad that a novel is a novel, as a pudding is a pudding, and that our only business with it could be to swallow it.”  But in the wake of Dickens and Thackeray, and propelled by George Eliot, the English novel has taken on, James believes, a new seriousness as a literary form.  The novel now has, he declares, a “theory, a conviction, a consciousness of itself behind it.”

This course explores the relation between the novel’s developing self-consciousness as a literary form and the theories of the novel that help provide the terms for generic description.  Our study moves in reverse chronological order: by beginning with twentieth-century novelists and theorists, we can better appreciate the nineteenth-century realist project as a distinctive aesthetic practice and type of cultural work.

Our study of the novel will focus on Jealousy, by Robbe-Grillet; To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf; The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James; Middlemarch, by George Eliot; and Bleak House, by Charles Dickens.  A course reader includes theoretical readings from Auerbach, Lukács, Bakhtin, Moretti, Williams, Watt, Trilling, Lanser, Cohn, Robbe-Grillet and others. 

 

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MWF 3-4

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