This course provides an introduction to the Victorian novel. We will focus our attention on some of the major fiction of the period, attending to issues of style and form as well as analyzing how the novel participates in Victorian debates about poverty, sexuality and imperialism. Tracking recurrent literary obsessions with questions of nervousness, contagion, consumption, and desire, we will study how the Victorian novel helped an emergent industrial society imagine itself into being. Novels will include Charlotte Bronte, Villette; Charles Dickens, Bleak House; Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone; George Eliot, Middlemarch; Henry James, Portrait of a Lady; Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles; Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; and J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan. In order to situate these works in their cultural and political context, we will supplement our literary readings with a variety of non-fictional writings from the Victorian period, ranging from public health reports to medical case studies to aesthetic theory. In addition, we will survey some of the major contemporary work on Victorian culture, sampling the work of such critics as D.A. Miller, Elaine Scarry, and Eve Sedgwick.
Requirements: 2 short papers (5-7 pp) and one longer one (7-10 pp); a final exam.
Note: The usual English 203 requirement can be fulfilled by two courses covering periods of the British novel. Majors who take this course will be able to finish the 203 requirement in English 45 or 65.