This seminar will address Dickens and Joyce as two of the most influential comic novelists of the modern period. With some background reading in Cervantes and other precursors (such as Henry Fielding), we will come to Dickens and Joyce as figures in a spectacular, even phantasmagoric, history of the urban novel that resists the more sober conventions of domestic or psychological realism. We will concentrate on Dickens's epic of 19th-century London, Our Mutual Friend, and Joyce's epic of 20th-century Dublin, Ulysses. Readings will include a fairly substantial set of critical and historical essays chosen to elaborate the social contexts and interpretive possibilities associated with the two main novels. Written requirements include two essays and several short response papers.