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The Novel of Adventure

ENGL 360.301
TR 10:30-12:00 pm

The “serious” novel in Britain has since the middle of the eighteenth century tended to center on character development related to heterosexual courtship and marriage. But one of the most popular early novels, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) is an adventure story that treats the hero’s escape from slavery in Morocco and then his survival on a deserted island off the coast of South America. As we read a selection of novels of adventure from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century, we will seek to understand why the main tradition of fiction in Britain (what we normally read in college literature courses) chose to ignore overseas masculine adventure in favor of domestic situations and problems. Why was adventure fiction, with its non-European locales and brutal events, relegated to boys’ books and popular or even pulp literature? We will also read a number of American novels (one of them pulp) that express a quite different attitude toward adventure. Among the authors we will read are Daniel Defoe, Jane Austen, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, James Fenimore Cooper, H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Joseph Conrad. 

Two short (3-5 page) papers, class reports, and a final (10-12 page) paper.