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 to how the novel participates in Victorian debates about poverty, sexuality, morality, change, and empire. Tracking recurrent literary obsessions with questions of justice, nervousness, contagion, consumption, desire, depravity, and, not surprisingly, reading, we will study how the Victorian novel helped an emergent industrial society imagine itself into being. Our progress through the period will be chronological. Beginning with a short snippet of the first Victorian novel, Charles Dickens' PICKWICK PAPERS (1836-7), we will study Emily Bronte's WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1848), George Eliot's ADAM BEDE (1859); Wilkie Collins' NO NAME (1862), Charles Dickens' last completed novel, OUR MUTUAL FRIEND (1865), Henry James' novella, DAISY MILLER (1878),and Thomas Hardy's last novel, JUDE THE OBSCURE (1895). In order to situate these works in their social, political and aesthetic contexts, 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 contemporary reviews to aesthetic theory.
Requirements for the course: 2 formal papers, one short (6-8 pp), and one longer (10-12 pp); weekly listserve postings; regular attendance; lively class participation; and a final exam.