Fulfills Distributional Course in Arts and Letters
This brief survey of British novels will pay special attention to how the novel has been shaped as a genre by imperial travel, trade, and discovery. Beginning with Aphra Behn's Oroonoko and concluding with Jean Rhy's Wide Sargasso Sea, we'll consider how the evolving conventions of the genre work to resolve social conflicts generated by Britain's global exploration and to imagine various versions of British identity. By situating these generic conventions in historical context, we will compare competing narratives of the novel's "rise." As we examine a range of works such as Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and E.M. Forster's Passage to India, we'll question what these diverse texts share in common as novels, or what characterizes them as a distinct genre. Course requirements will include several short response papers, a longer final paper, and a class presentation.