English | English Fiction 1800-1900
L745 | 27683 | Greiner


L745/V711 27683/13444  GREINER (#4)
English Fiction 1800-1900

5:30p – 8:30p W

TOPIC:  THE ETHICS OF REALISM

While grounding our discussions in the domestic and “high” realist
novels of the 19th century, in this class we will be concerned with
the question of realism’s relation to ethics (especially via the
discourses of moral philosophy, aesthetics, the natural sciences,
and literary theory).  The primary goal will be to map out the major
claims for and against realism as an ethical aesthetic practice, and
in particular to think carefully about the relationship (if there is
one) between ethics and aesthetic form.  For that reason our
readings will begin in the late 18th century (possible names include
Shaftesbury, Adam Smith, Richardson, Mackenzie, Hume, Diderot) and
press forward into domestic or historical realism (Austen, Scott),
urban realism (Dickens), and philosophical or “high” realism (Eliot,
Conrad).   Please note that these are the sorts of novels on which
we will concentrate (that is, largely of the nineteenth century, and
likely British). The course will briefly consider, at semester’s
end, the more recent, if waning, mania for “reality-based
entertainment” and the fate of “the real” in contemporary
discourses, especially queer theory (Brokeback Mountain will serve
as our final text).  Author list is tentative and subject to change;
critical materials will draw from a variety of disciplines,
including contemporary theory.  Course requirements will include
regular (preferably perfect) attendance, periodic writing
assignments (short but substantial), a short presentation on a
critical or theoretical text, participation in a writing workshop,
and your choice of A) a lengthy seminar-style paper (due at the end
of the semester) or B) a conference paper (which will require you to
produce a longer paper mid-semester, then cut it down to conference
length).  Both paper options will require substantial research.