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18th Century Novel

ENGL 045.001
instructor(s):
MWF 11

This course's exploration of the eighteenth-century British novel will be based on two critical commonplaces: 1)that the novel, more than any other literary genre, comes closest to representing what is "real" -- in Samuel Johnson's words, that it "exhibit[s] life in its true state"; and 2) that the novel's emergence as a genre is predicated in large part on its ability to incorporate other genres (epic, allegory, romance, etc.) within itself. These two commonplaces give rise to the questions that will guide the course as a whole: how is the "real" constructed within the eighteenth-century novel, from what is it constructed, and (perhaps most importantly) for whom? Our inquiries into these questions will proceed across various generic affiliations: Romance, allegory, epic, Gothic, journalistic, etc. The writers we will read include but are not limited to Behn, Defoe, Fielding, Sterne, Richardson, Burney, Radcliffe, Walpole. Class meetings will emphasize animated discussions and close attention to the texts. There will be weekly informal writing assignments, two longer essays, and a final examination.