English 125B

The English Novel (Dickens through Conrad)

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2021 Banerjee, Sukanya
TTh 9:30-11

Book List

Bronte, Charlotte: Jane Eyre; Chatterjee, Bankim Chandra: Rajmohan's Wife; Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness; Dickens, Charles: A Tale of Two Cities; Gaskell, Elizabeth: Mary Barton; Steel, Flora Annie: On the Face of the Waters; Stoker, Bram: Dracula

Other Readings and Media

Further readings will be posted on bCourses.


In this course we will read novels that were written from the 1840s through the end of the nineteenth century, a period that is marked by Britain’s growth as the first modern industrialized society and as an expansive colonial power. This was a period that was also marked by a widespread demand for political and social reform as well as a recalibration of notions of gender, class, sexuality, and national/imperial identity. Placing the novel form at the heart of these debates, we will consider how (and if) the formal and aesthetic features of the novel as they evolved over the course of the nineteenth century shape and are shaped by these debates. We will pay close attention to the emergence of certain novelistic genres, such as the “industrial novel,” the “Mutiny novel,” or novels of the fin de siècle gothic. And even as our focus remains on the “English” novel, we will take the imperial backdrop of nineteenth-century Britain into account to expand the contours of our literary understanding of the British nineteenth century. Therefore, a few of the novels that we read will not be set in Britain or written by authors who conventionally fall under the purview of “nineteenth-century British.”

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