What is a Novel?
Division I; Writing-Intensive;
Cross-listed as COMP239 / ENGL240
What is a novel? Where did it come from? Why would anyone invent such a thing in the first place? This course 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. We will move back and forth from the theory of the novel to its practice in order to see how the novel and its understanding have changed over the past 200 or so years. Novelists will come from the 19th and 20th centuries, likely Austen, Dickens, and Mieville. Theorists are likely to include Henry James, Benjamin, Lukacs, Barthes, Watt, McKeon, Jameson, Eve Sedgwick, Edward Said, Leo Bersani, and Franco Moretti.
The Class: Type: seminar
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 Preference: first- and second-year students, and English majors who have yet to take a Gateway course
Distributions: Division I; Writing-Intensive;
Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses; ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses; ENGL Literary Histories B;