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The 19th Century Novel

ENGL 055.401
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30

Our study of the 19th-century novel will extend a discussion about realism and the novel form initiated by Ian Watt in his analysis of the 18th-century novel. Watt argues that modern realism begins from the position that truth can be discovered by the individual through his senses and that the novel is the logical literary vehicle to convey individual experience, which is always unique and therefore new. The novels of the 19th century both expand and contort Watt’s assertions, with authors such as Walter Scott and Henry James attempting to classify and define genre. For Scott the marvelous and the uncommon denote the romance rather than the novel, yet Gothic tendencies persist throughout the 19th century in the so-called novels of sensation, demanding, therefore, a more complex assessment of the genre. Zola, on the other hand, envisions an “experimental novelist” who pushes the boundaries of literary realism by objectively depicting how hereditary and environment shape our world. This course will center on these two strains: the Gothic tradition, *Northanger Abbey*, Emily Bronte’s *Wuthering Heights*, Nathaniel Hathorne’s *The House of Seven Gables*, and Bram Stoker’s *Dracula*-and literary realism/naturalism-works by George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, Emile Zola, and Thomas Hardy. Readings will be supplemented by essays and reviews from the nineteenth century and by modern criticism. Requirements include class attendance, preparation, and participation; a series of written responses; and a final exam.