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Gothic Novels and National Tales

ENGL 550.640
instructor(s):
T 6-8:40

The nation we recognize as Great Britain emerged between two high-water marks in the history of the novel: the mid-eighteenth century fictions of Richardson and Fielding and the later Victorian social visions of Eliot and Hardy. What changed during the century separating these epochs will be the focus of the seminar. We will address the history of the British novel during this "in-between" time of monumental social change, covering the time in which the first and second British Empires were won and consolidated (roughly 1763-1870). We'll focus on the relation between literary form and emerging British nationalisms, and will ask why the formation of national identity became so important to writers and social reformers. For the literary portion of this course, we'll read novels by authors like Tobias Smollett, Frances Burney, Ann Radcliffe, Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, Sydney Owenson, Lord Byron, Walter Scottk Elizabeth Gaskell, and Wilkie Collins. Alongside these authors we'll also read contextual materials about the rise of lending libraries and market publishing, as well as more recent writings on nations and nationalism by Linda Colley, Benedict Anderson, Ernest Gellner, and E. J. Hobsbaum. There will be 4-5 responses, an annotated bibliography, and a long essay project.