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WGSS 333
The Nineteenth-Century British Novel Fall 2019
Division II
Cross-listed WGSS 333 / ENGL 333

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In nineteenth-century Britain, the novel took on the world. Shaking off its early disrepute, and taking advantage of growing literacy and innovations in production and distribution, it achieved in this period an unrivalled synthesis of mass appeal and aesthetic ambition. Its representational aspirations were breathtaking: attempting to comprehend in its pages the dizzying complexity of new social, political, and economic structures, as well as to delineate in finest detail the texture of individual lives and minds. In an age obsessed with the social, it engaged directly with the most compelling social issues of the day, including industrialization and the gap between rich and poor, the role of women, nationalism and imperialism, and more broadly, the very nature of historical change itself. But it did so, for the most part, by telling fine-grained stories of ordinary men and women, people trying to make a living, worrying about their families and their neighbors, facing illness and death, and falling in–and sometimes out of–love. Since so many of these stories of everyday life are familiar as, we will work hard to focus on what is strange and specific about the fiction of the nineteenth century, while also recognizing the roots of much that is modern in our own culture. We will also take seriously their social ambitions, looking especially at the ways they formulate, promote, and contest their readers’ understanding of themselves as subjects and agents of an ongoing social history.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 1739
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: flexible writing requirement includes options for short essays, journal, research paper and exam
Prerequisites: 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature Exam, or 6 or 7 on Higher Level IB English exam, or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: English majors, Women's, Gender and Sexuality majors, Comparative Literature majors, seniors
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
WGSS 333 Division II ENGL 333 Division I
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories B

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