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Notoriety and the Novel

ENGL 260.301
instructor(s):
TR 9-10:30

This seminar considers how the rise of publicity in recent centuries has influenced the British novel. We'll focus on how newspapers become a part of daily life and what consequences this has for ideas about privacy. The influence of the commercial press over the novel is especially clear in scenes of newspaper reading-a wife reads about her husband's shipwreck, a man learns of his fiance's indiscretion-that show how the press affects ordinary people. Special attention will be given to these ways of reading: silent or aloud, light or serious, practical or emotional, masculine or feminine. How different were the stories told by newspapers and novels? What makes news more "real" than novels? How have our ideas of what counts as "news" changed over time? Why do we enjoy reading about people behaving badly? Readings by Daniel Defoe, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mary Braddon, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Henry James, James Joyce, and Salman Rushdie.