English | English Fiction 1800-1900
L645 | 29006 | Williams

L645  29006  WILLIAMS  (#3 OR #4)
English Fiction 1800-1900

2:30p – 3:45p TR


In the usual stories of the rise of the novel, as the development of
a genre gradually refining its techniques for representing everyday
reality and individual subjectivity (Watt) or epistemological and
moral distinctions (McKeon), the Romantic novel (with the exception
of Austen) plays only a minor role.  With their sometimes explicit
political and documentary agendas, their indulgence of unrealistic
gothic elements, and their penchant for sensibility which overflows
the bounds of subjective continence, Romantic novels can themselves
seem a mistaken episode in the otherwise orderly unfolding of
realism.  But, of course, an account which dwells on this episode
also has the power to reshape that dominant narrative and case it in
different lights.

We’ll look at examples of the leading types of fiction in the
period:  the Jacobin novel (Godwin’s Caleb Williams,
Wollstonecraft’s The Wrongs of Woman), the Anti-Jacobin novel
(Amelia Opie’s Adeline Mowbray), the gothic (Ann Radcliffe’s The
Mysteries of Udolpho, Matthew Lewis’s The Monk), the novel of
sensibility (Elizabeth Inchbald’s A Simple Story, Mary Hays’ The
Memoirs of Emma Courtney), the national tale (Lady Morgan’s The Wild
Irish Girl, Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent), and even some
Austenian realism (Persuaion).  My goal here is to survey the
variety of the period, rather than to forward a thesis, but we’ll
also look at some of the important criticism (Katie Trumpener,
Tilottama Rajan, Claudia Johnson, etc.) that has turned to this
material to recast the novel genre.  Writing assignments will be one
short piece connected to a class presentation and a conference
length essay (around 12 pp.) at the end.