This course will trace the development of the British novel, from its beginnings as a supposedly sub- or quasi-literary form of narrative diversion to its triumph in both the mass market and the literary salon. We will explore how writers took the basic formulas of plot and elaborated them in ways that continually reshaped and redefined the novel. We will see how the novel not only offered escape and entertainment, but it also proved to be a supple and expansive medium of social intervention and commentary. We will thus address the economic, political, and intellectual transformations out of which these novels emerged. Readings may include: Behn's Oroonoko, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Fielding's Tom Jones, Austen's Emma, Dickens' David Copperfield, Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Conrad's The Secret Agent. Weekly quizzes and three medium-length essays; no exam.