ENGL-131 18th C. British Novel
Fall for 2014-2015
The novel is called the “novel” because, at one time, it was a new art form, and many have made the case that the English novel was so new in the eighteenth century that it was essentially invented then. Not only was the novel new, but the world was, too. Science was challenging traditional beliefs, a myriad of new and often disturbing cultures was revealed by British exploration and colonialism, older attitudes toward sex and gender were being questioned, political and social stability appeared to many to be threatened by unprecedented social mobility. Eighteenth-century novels took it upon themselves to describe, celebrate, satirize or simply negotiate this new world, and in the process they had to create new forms of expression and representation to do so. These became the basis of the novel as we know it today. This course will examine some of the most significant experiments in novel writing in eighteenth-century England: Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders; Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels; Samuel Richardson’s Pamela; Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones; and Jane Austen’s Emma.
This class emphasizes close reading and textual analysis. It will also introduce you to some of the foundational concepts and terminology of the field. There will be several short papers, one long paper, and a take-home final exam. The course requires a substantial amount of sustained reading. Eighteenth-century novels are long, and keeping up with them will be demanding. Do not fall behind.
Prerequisites: ENGL 040, 041, 042, or 043
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