ENGL 240
The Novel in Theory Fall 2017
Division I Writing Skills
Cross-listed COMP 239 / ENGL 240
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

What is a novel? Where did it come from? Why would anyone invent such a thing in the first place? In spite of its title, this is not a course about merely theoretical novels, unwritten or dreamily imagined works of fiction. Rather, this is an introduction to the ways literary critics have attempted to give a genre as hard-to-pin down as the novel a theoretical framework. For a long time, nobody thought the novel needed a theory—too popular, too loose and baggy to be thought of as one thing. 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 three realist 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, Eve Sedgwick, Edward Said, & Franco Moretti. Novelists may include Austen, Dickens, Conrad.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 1842
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: 4-5 papers totaling about 20 pages; regular, substantial, and intensive participation in class
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
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 Preferences: first- and second-year students, and English majors who have yet to take a Gateway course
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COMP 239 Division I ENGL 240 Division I
Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses
ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses
ENGL Literary Histories B

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