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Topics in 18th C Literature: The Picaresque Novel

ENGL 241.301
instructor(s):
W 2-5

With the help of the class, I hope to approach the picaresque, genre, mainly as we see it in eighteenth-century England, but also through its prefigurations in early modern Europe and in its post-figurations, which continue into the mid twentieth century. The eighteenth-century examples include Defoe's two picaresque stories, "Moll Flanders" and "Colonel Jack," Fielding's "Jonathan Wild," and Smollett's two novels, "Roderick Random" and "Ferdinand Count Fathom." The prefigurations, however, start in Spain of the 1550s, continue in Elizabethan England and seventeenth-century Germany, while the postfigurations bring in the sexual picaresque (Cleland's "Fanny Hill"), the evolution of the sharper into the conman with Gogol's "Dead Souls," and more mature social delinquency and criminality with Bellow's "Augie March" and Mann's" Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man." I am curious about the etiology of the socially marginal criminal, the professional thief, and the kleptomaniac, so this course will include a measurable portion of social science.