English 190

Research Seminar: Contemporary Historical Fiction


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
7 Spring 2018 Yoon, Irene
TTh 9:30-11 211 Dwinelle

Book List

Atkinson, Kate: Life After Life; Barker, Pat: Regeneration; Byatt, A.S.: Possession; Faulks, Sebastian: Birdsong; Ishiguro, Kazuo: Remains of the Day; McEwan, Ian: Atonement; Rhys, Jean: Wide Sargasso Sea; Smith, Zadie: White Teeth

Other Readings and Media

Course Reader with selections from Catherine Gallagher, Paul Gilroy, Linda Hutcheon, Frederic Jameson, Suzanne Keen, György Lukács, Paul Saint-Amour, and Margaret Scanlan, among others. 

Description

The last few decades of British fiction have brought with them a notable resurgence of interest in historical literary fiction. Why this renewed investment in writing about the past now, two centuries after the historical novel’s emergence? In this course we will examine the fixation on the past that permeates postwar British fiction and the variety of narrative strategies that writers have developed to address it. We will consider critical debates over the potentially conservative and retrograde impulses of historical fiction and its widespread popular appeal, while also engaging the myriad examples of texts that challenge such critiques, novels that deploy innovative techniques to rework and challenge our understandings of the past. We will also discuss why twentieth- and twenty-first-century post-imperial Britain seems to be especially fruitful for such literary explorations. The course will proceed in units organized according to the eras they address, as we pay close attention to both the historiographical practices these novels enact and evoke and the particular historical contexts that inform their writing. The course will focus on novels taking up the nearer pasts of the Victorian era and First and Second World Wars.

As a research seminar, we will also devote much energy to examining and enacting processes of research, analysis, and writing. To that end, students are responsible for maintaining a regular research journal and are encouraged to engage actively in conversation not only with one another, but also with the course texts and the critical discussions surrounding them. Students will take turns finding, presenting, and leading discussion of relevant secondary sources throughout the semester. The course will culminate in a final 15-20-page research paper. 

Please read the paragraph about English 190 on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

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