ENGL 333
The Nineteenth-Century British Novel Spring 2010
Division I
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Class Details

Imagine this: a form of art and entertainment that purports to be able to represent everything-intimate, even inaccessible human thoughts and feelings, love, class, the city, shopping, sexuality, bureaucracy, social bonds, industrialization, nationalism, even modernity itself. In this course we will try to understand the scope of the nineteenth-century British novel’s jaw-dropping representational aspirations: its claim to comprehend in its pages both the dizzying complexity of new social, political, and economic structures, as well as delineate in finest detail the texture of individual minds and lives. We will pay attention to the ways in which the novel takes apparently intractable political and social problems and resolves them within stories of romantic love, an act of narrative prestidigitation readers never seem to tire of. And while we might think of the novel as an Empire of the Little, endlessly occupied with giving significance to the smallest acts of ordinary human life, we will think about the broader historical and social conditions the novel both represents in its pages, and is a crucial not-so-silent partner in promoting and contesting. We will also interest ourselves in the kind of under-the- counter work the Victorian novel does on behalf of British empire, as well as empire’s own behind-the-scenes work for the novel. Since so many of these stories of everyday life seem as familiar to us as everyday life, we will work hard to maintain what is strange and specific about the nineteenth century even as we recognize within these works the birth of so much that is modern in our own culture. Likely authors include: Austen, C. Brontë, Thackeray, Dickens, Eliot, Collins, Hardy.
The Class: Format: discussion/seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 20
Class#: 3645
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: heavy reading; 2-3 essays, totaling 20-25 pages; class attendance and productive participation; weekly online reading responses
Prerequisites: 100-level English course or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: English majors
Distributions: Division I

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