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The Nineteenth-Century British Novel

ENGL 055.001
instructor(s):
MW 3:30-5:00
fulfills requirements:
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major

Whether it’s Penny Dreadful, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Sherlock and Elementary, prestige multi-plot TV serials such as The Wire, or costume drama of the bonnet-and-monocle ilk, we’ve been adapting, updating, and mashing up nineteenth-century British fiction now for years. But what about the thing itself? Written longhand, often published in weekly or monthly parts, read aloud in homes and silently in new railway coaches by unprecedented numbers of people, the novel in nineteenth-century Britain was infinitely various in its modes and subjects, aims and velocities. This course provides an introduction to the British novel during the golden age of realism, domestic Gothic, and the Bildungsroman—and, through the novel, to the rapidly changing society variously archived, praised, and deplored in its pages. Secondary readings will help us trace the nineteenth-century novel’s meditations on institutional power, class relations, race and empire, gender and sexuality. Above all we’ll have the chance to immerse ourselves in remarkable primary texts whose echoes are still, well over a century later, being heard in our mass culture. Fiction by Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Olive Schreiner, and others.