Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

British Novel of Development

ENGL 051.401

The focus of this course is the classic English novel of education.  We’ll first read Jane Eyre and Great Expectations to see how the pattern of growing up varies by gender. We’ll continue with a massive but marvelous novel, Middlemarch whose heroine is devoted to the notion of duty. We will not rush through; we’ll take our time and appreciate its intricate structures and passionate intelligence. As a parallel to Middlemarch, we’ll read Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, a story of female community and struggle. We’ll also read Tess of the D’urbervilles and Shaw’s play St. Joan, both stories of country girls who can live honestly only by defying the men who seek to control them. Because the Victorians took the question of religious belief very seriously, we’ll read a memoir, Father and Son by Edmund Gosse and sections of Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam, both of which trace the changes in a young man’s faith. Finally, we’ll read Alice in Wonderland, a story written for children but which is even better read in adulthood.


Course requirements include very brief weekly response pieces, a midterm exam and a final paper.

This course fulfills sector 5 of the English major.

fulfills requirements
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major