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At roughly fifty-year intervals, Britain produced three brilliant female novelists — Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf — who would each become renowned, in her own way, for her ability to combine minutely detailed social observation with a rich depiction of the inner lives of her characters. This course will examine some of their major fiction– with an emphasis on Austen and Eliot — with special attention to the nature and implications of their narrative methods for representing the consciousnesses of characters, and of the authorial narrative voices that mediate among them. Questions to be considered: how is our understanding of novelistic characters and consciousness shaped by our real-life experience in interpreting the thoughts and character of others, and vice versa? Do “omniscient” narrators lay claim to a privileged kind of knowing presumed to be unavailable either to their character or to readers, or are they modelling humanly available interpretive stances toward a world of others? How do these authors’ preoccupations with interior thought relate to their focus on women’s experience? Possible texts include Austen’s Emma and Persuasion, Eliot’s Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, and The Lifted Veil, and Woolf’s The Waves.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
one six-eight-page and one ten-twelve-page essay
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
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL Criticism Courses
ENGL Literary Histories B