The Novel and Other Institutions
Course Online: Synchronous and Asynchronous Components
How did the novel—once a fairly messy, undefined, and disreputable genre—become the dominant form of modern literature? How might we think about the novel's history from its earliest forms to the present day? In what ways do fiction’s developing literary conventions (its recognizable plot structures, techniques of narration and characterization, ways of organizing time and space, etc.) intersect with the social history of the long modern era? What is the novel’s relationship to everyday life and to the institutions that structure it, from schools to prisons, from the family to the state, from museums to imperial bureaucracy, and from factories to publishing houses? In what ways did the novel become an institution itself? We will consider these and other questions as we read British and Anglophone novels spanning from the eighteenth through the twentieth century and beyond. Readings may include fiction by Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Octavia Butler, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Ling Ma.