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Novelties and the Novel (1680-1730)

ENGL 730.401
instructor(s):
T 2-4

At the turn of the eighteenth century, the novel established itself throughout Europe as the pre-eminent literary genre. It was seen above all as a radically new literary form, a novelty. At the same time as the novel was becoming prominent, many other kinds of novelties such as coffee and chocolate first became part of the European landscape. At the same moment the fashion industry was born when high fashion was first marketed to a broad public. And perhaps the ultimate novelty in this story was the novel�s gender bias: it was the only form in literary history to have been produced massively by women. This seminar will explore the ways in which histories of the novel and of contemporary novelties such as coffee and high fashion were intertwined. We will pay particular attention to another contemporary genre, the newspaper, whose rise in the early modern period was essential to the marketing of novelties. We will also focus on the process of translation by means of which the novel spread rapidly through England, France, and Germany. Among the novels we will discuss: Robinson Crusoe and The Princesse de Cl�ves, the two �founding� texts of the modern novel. Other texts may include: fairy tales, d�Aulnoy�s travel novels, Manon Lescaut, Thousand and One Nights. Among the subjects to be considered: fashion prints, advertising and broadsheets, journals and book reviews, treatises on coffee, travel narratives, musical novelties (such as vaudevilles and early opera), letter-writing guides, and dictionaries and language manuals. All works to be discussed will be available in English, French, and German, in the original text and in translations from the early modern period. We will also maintain a focus on research methods. The seminar will be held on the 6th floor of Van Pelt so that we can have access every week to materials from Penn�s rare book collection.