English | Studies in British and American Authors
L369 | 20427 | Ivan Kreilkamp

Ivan Kreilkamp

20427 - 11:15a-12:30p TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H

TOPIC:  "Late Realism: British fiction 1880-1910"

Fictional realism as a mode and technique was invented by novelists
of the eighteenth century and brought to unsurpassed sophistication
and popularity by such mid- and late-Victorian novelists as Anthony
Trollope, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and George Eliot.  In the
final decades of the nineteenth century and the first of the 20th,
however, literary realism began to change -- mutating, fracturing,
and adjusting to social, political and cultural change.  We are not
yet at the aesthetic revolution of Modernism, which begins around
1910.  But we're arguably not altogether in "the Victorian" or "the
nineteenth century," either.  One could make a case for 1880-1910 as
its own literary and cultural period, one marked by socialism,
anarchism, feminism, and the weakening of Empire in the
social/political arena, and by the breakdown of long-standing
aesthetic conventions and the first developments of the
transformations that would later revolutionize 20th century
literature, including impressionism and radical subjectivism.  The
novels and stories of the 1880s, 90s and 1900s can be read as "late"
Victorian fiction or as early, "pre"-Modernist works, but from
either perspective they are fascinating texts, full of formalist
experimentation, social/political tumult, gender trouble of various
kinds, and self-awareness about a dawning new modern age.
Readings may include the following (final choices not yet made):
Henry James, Washington Square (1880), George Gissing, the Odd Women
(1883), Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm (1883), Vernon
Lee, Hauntings (1890), Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (1895), short
fiction by Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent (1907),
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles.  (Note that the
reading load will be substantial.)

Assignments will likely include a midterm exam, a take-home final
exam, two formal papers, and several shorter response papers.