ENGL 359
Novel Worlds Spring 2018
Division I Writing Skills
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Class Details

Admirers and critics of the novel have remarked how reading one is like falling into another world, a total immersion in a richly evoked and encompassing fictional reality saturated with detail-each novel a trip down the rabbit hole. From Jane Austen’s Regency-era “3 or 4 families in a country village” to Roberto Bolano’s teeming modern day Mexico City of millions, the novel’s distinctive power is in making both the few and the many feel like an entire and complete world. But what are worlds, anyway? Are they spaces, like a container? Or are they not a thing at all, but social structures-made and remade constantly? This is a course about the specific world-imagining powers of the novel, tracing out the various techniques and strategies by which literary texts create worlds. Our hunch: the modern notion of “world” finds its origin in the novel, and the novel constitutes one of the most sophisticated sites of reflection upon the notion of world. We’ll read a number of works, ranging from nineteenth-century realist authors like Austen and Dickens, to the rabbit hole of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, to contemporary genre writing-science fiction and the detective novel-as well as from a range of national traditions. We’ll read a set of philosophical, sociological, and literary theoretical texts that are preoccupied by world-ness, with special attention to contemporary debates about how the idea of World Literature offers opportunities to reformulate literary study. Texts likely to include: Jane Austen’s Emma, Charles Dickens’, Bleak House, Lewis Carroll’s Adventures in Wonderland, Calvino’s Invisible Cities, China Mieville’s The City within the City, Roberto Bolano’s Savage Detectives. Theoretical work may include Hegel, Pierre Bourdieu, Erving Goffman, Immanuel Wallerstein, Franco Moretti, Pheng Cheah, among others.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3825
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly writing assignments and tutorial meetings
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: 100- or 200-level English or Comparative Literature course
Enrollment Preferences: English majors
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses
ENGL Literary Histories B

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