This general survey will trace the evolution of the novel, a literary form that attempts to be all things to all readers. We'll read several major examples of the form with enough historical context to recognize the social and cultural conflicts, apparent and submerged, written into both the content and the structure of each book. We'll also study several different theoretical approaches to the form itself, combining them with our readings in order to amplify our sense of the novel's inscribed tensions. And we'll try to answer the question of why people read novels outside of classrooms--what do they get from novels that they can't get elsewhere, and how do those needs change as society changes?
Readings may include books by Austen, Behn, Conrad, Defoe, Dickens, Fielding, Joyce, and Shelley. Requirements will include weekly response papers, two longer essays, and a comprehensive final exam.