ENGL 240
What is a Novel? Fall 2024
Division I Writing Skills

Class Details

What is a novel? Where did novels 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 even needed a theory–too popular, too loose and baggy to be thought of as any one thing. Today, novel theory is legion. To 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. We’ll center our studies in the Age of the Novel in Britain, the 19th century (Jane Austen, Charles Dickens), and extend our investigations to one of its contemporary heirs (Sally Rooney). Theorists will include Bakhtin, Benjamin, Marx, Lukacs, Barthes, Ian Watt, Jameson, Sedgwick, Said, Bersani, Moretti.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 1632
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: 4 papers; weekly posts to glow; regular, substantial, and intensive participation in class discussion.
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 Preferences: first- and second-year students, and English majors who have yet to take a Gateway course
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
WS Notes: You will write 4 papers, totaling around 20-25 pages, with opportunities for revision following feedback.
Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses
ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses
ENGL Literary Histories B

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