ENGL 263
Novel Worlds Spring 2019 Division I; Writing-Intensive; Cross-listed as ENGL263 / COMP268

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Reading a novel can feel like falling into another world, an immersion in an encompassing fictional reality saturated with detail–each novel its own trip down the rabbit hole. From Jane Austen’s “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 a complete world. But what are worlds, anyway? Are they spaces, like a container? Or are they not a thing at all, but social systems–ways of belonging that are constantly being made and remade? This course is about the specific world–imagining powers of the novel, tracing out 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 novels, ranging from 19th century authors like Austen and Dickens, to contemporary genre writing–science fiction and the detective novel–as well as from a range of national traditions to see how novels, and ideas of world, shift over time and space. To get at our central questions, we’ll read some philosophical and critical texts that are preoccupied by world-ness, with attention to current debates about the idea of World Literature. Novel texts likely to include: Jane Austen’s Emma, Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and Roberto Bolano’s Savage Detectives.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3667
Requirements/Evaluation: papers (approximately 20 pages), other forms of writing in-class and otherwise, participation
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
Distributions: Division I; Writing-Intensive;
Distribution Notes: WI: Five writing assignments equals 20 pages
Attributes: ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses;

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