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The Novel

The concentration in Prose genres (i.e. The Novel) is for students interested in the forms, theories, histories and practices of prose writing. What, for instance, makes a novel a novel? what makes a novel different from a story? a history? an allegory? a romance? What can narrative do that poetry can't? why do we need both fiction and non-fiction? Dictinctions among these and other forms of prose writing are often difficult to make, precisely because their histories and conventions are so deeply intertwined: Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela began as a conduct book for young ladies; Bram Stoker's Dracula is written as a series of letters and diary entries; Thomas Pynchon's Mason-Dixon is both history and fiction at once. This concentration aims to provide students with a means of studying how prose genres form, how they function in different historical moments and how they evolve over time. Its focus on genre allows both critical and creative writers to explore, and also to test in practice, the protean and various possibilities of prose.