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The 18th Century English Novel

ENGL 045.001

In this introduction to the beginnings of modern English fiction, we will study a dozen landmark works, cornerstones in the development of the English--and, indeed--the world novel. I have subdivided the course in to three sections: origins, romances, and discoveries. In the first section, "Origins," we will read four early eighteenth century novels, each marking an important beginning: Behn's Oroonoko, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Waywood's Love in Excess, and Richardson's Pamela. In the second section, entitled "Romances," we will read four books that show close ties to earlier, classic literature: Fieldings Joseph Andrews, Lennox's The Female Quixote, Smollett's Humphry Clinker, and Austen's Sense and Sensibility. The third and last section of the course includes four novels which represent "Discoveries," or influential new developments in prose fiction. There are Walpole's The Castle of Ortanto, the first gothic, Sterne's Tristram Shandy, the first disjunctive narrative, Defoe's Moll Flanders, the first feminine picaresque, and Burney's Evelina, the first satiric novel with a woman author. I will be interested in broad societal trends, the way in which writers transform the genre of prose fiction, and how writers of novels reflect the past and hint at strains in the social fabric of eighteenth-century England.

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