English | 19th Century British Fiction
L348 | 2213 | Kreilkamp

Nineteenth-Century British Fiction

9:30a-10:45a TR (30) 3 CR.

Like Shakespearean drama, Hollywood cinema, or any other great and
multifaceted art form, nineteenth-century British fiction both
defines an imaginary realm all its own and engages with a number of
different “real worlds.” We will explore and analyze as broad a
sampling of the rich abundance of nineteenth-century British fiction
as we can fit into one semester.  Authors may include Jane Austen,
Charles Dickens, Emily Brontë, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot,
Thomas Hardy, and Oscar Wilde. We will dwell throughout on “formal”
topics -- questions of style, literary form, and genre – in order to
develop tools and approaches for interpreting this fiction.  We’ll
also ask how these various styles and forms of fiction emerge out of
the history of nineteenth-century Britain, specifically including
industrialism, domesticity and gender ideology, imperialism and
colonialism, class and social structure.  And finally, we will
consider what happens to these works when we read them today: how do
we project our own obsessions and concerns into the fiction?  Why do
nineteenth-century novels speak so compellingly to a society so
different from the one in which they were first created?  Recurring
topics will include memory – both personal and cultural; realism and
the Gothic; the representation of the English self by contrast with
various non-English “others;” consciousness, imagination, fantasy;
urban experience and the association of the rural with the past;
sexuality, gender, and the marriage plot; class and gentlemanliness;
education, childhood, and the path to adulthood.   Given the size of
most Victorian novels, reading for this course will be fairly
heavy.  Course assignments and requirements will probably include a
midterm and final exam, regular response papers, a midterm and final
paper, and dedicated class participation.