ENGL 263
Novel Worlds
Last Offered Spring 2024
Division I Writing Skills
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

Reading a novel can feel like falling into another world, each novel its own trip down a granularly detailed rabbit hole. From Jane Austen’s “3 or 4 families in a country village” to the teeming novels of Charles Dickens, 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? 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 that notion. 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–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 preoccupied by world-ness, consider the colonial contexts of some novel worlds, and engage contemporary debates around the possibilities of “World Literature.” Likely authors include Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Italo Calvino, and China Mieville.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3774
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: papers (approximately 20 pages), other forms of writing in-class and otherwise, engaged participation in course discussions.
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: sophomores and first-year students
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
WS Notes: 4-5 shorter writing assignments totaling 20 pages of writing; regular feedback on writing assignments through written comments and in-person meetings.
Attributes: ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses
ENGL Literary Histories B

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