COMP 239 Fall 2014 The Novel in Theory (W)

Cross Listed as ENGL240
In spite of its title, this is not a course about merely theoretical novels, unwritten or dreamily imagined works of fiction that never see the page. Rather, this course will be an introduction to the different ways that literary critics have attempted to give a literary genre as loose, baggy, miscellaneous, and altogether hard-to-pin down as the novel a theoretical framework, to understand how the genre developed and how it functions. For the first couple of centuries of its existence in Britain and America, the novel was considered too popular, too commercial and unserious, and not sufficiently stylistically accomplished to merit anything like its own dedicated criticism or theory. Even now, critics can have a hard time even agreeing upon what a novel is, much less what constitutes a theory of the novel. Henry James, for example, said a novel's only duty was "to be interesting," which, when you think about it, really casts a pretty broad and abstract generic net. Today, novel theory is legion. To only name a few, one can find theories of the novel that identify themselves as formalist, psychoanalytic, post-structuralist, Marxist, historical, and post-colonial, as well as accounts that emphasize sexuality and gender, for example, or the novel's trans-national development. Rather than try for an encyclopedic survey of either the novel or its theories, this course will use two or three novels as a means of testing out a range of representative works of novel theory. We will move back and forth from the theory of the novel to its practice in order to see how novel theory has developed over the past century, as well to see how the novel's own academic and popular fortunes relate to its theoretical accounts. Theorists are likely to include Henry James, Shklovsky, Benjamin, Lukacs, Barthes, Watt, McKeon, Jameson, D.A. Miller, Sedgwick, and Said. Novelists may include Austen, Dickens, George Eliot, or Henry James.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: 4-5 papers; regular, substantial, and intensive participation in class
Additional Info:
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
Enrollment Preference: sophomores and first-year students who have not yet taken an ENGL Gateway course
Department Notes:
Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes:
Divisional Attributes: Division I, Writing Intensive
Other Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses,ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses,ENGL Literary Histories B
Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 19
Class Number: 1522
COMP 239 - 01 (F) SEM The Novel in Theory (W) Division 1: Languages and the ArtsWriting Intensive Alison A. Case
TF 2:35 PM-3:50 PM Schapiro Hall 137 1522
Course Search
Catalog Number:
Subject Attributes:
Enrollment Limit:
Course Type:
Start Time: End Time:
Instructor First Name:
Instructor Last Name:
Keyword Search: