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ENGL 323
A Novel Education Spring 2021
Division I Writing Skills

Class Details

All novels are conscious of their readers; eighteenth-century novels are obsessed with them. In the century when the genre first flourished, readers are the ultimate objects of novelists’ plots. We are addressed, teased, pleaded with, embarrassed, flattered, made fun of, praised, chided, solicited, warned, reminded, rebuked, asked for sympathy, and–always–closely watched. Eighteenth-century novelists–and their narrators–aggressively educate their readers, not only teaching us how to interpret the novel itself, but also demanding that we self-consciously question the powers of mind and habits of heart we bring to the process of interpreting a book, ourselves, and our world. In this tutorial course, we will explore the narrative and rhetorical strategies two of the century’s greatest novelists use in creating, shaping, and finally educating their readers. We will focus principally on Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749) and Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1760-67)–long, brilliantly intricate novels that go about their work in very different ways, but that are equally committed to the project of giving their readers a novel education. We will consider–much more briefly–Fielding’s Joseph Andrews and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. We will also read criticism by such “reader response” theorists as Stanley Fish and Wolfgang Iser, and–in the individualized setting of a tutorial–students will be asked to develop and articulate their own theories of reading by examining critically the ways in which texts affect and educate them. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills not only in reading and interpretation, but also in constructing critical arguments and responding to them in written and oral critiques.
The Class: Format: tutorial; Remote course. Students will meet with the instructor in pairs for one hour each week
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 5202
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students will write and present a 4-to 5-page paper every other week, and comment on their partners' papers in alternate weeks
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, or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: English majors, not open to first-year students
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
WS Notes: All tutorials (at least in English) are by definition Writing Skills courses. Students will write either the main paper or a response critique in alternate weeks. Students will also have the opportunity to revise.
Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses
ENGL Literary Histories A

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