ENGL479N - Selected Topics in English and American Literature after 1800: London and the Modern British Novel

London: once capital of the world’s first industrial society and the center of a vast economic, military and technological empire, now hub of global finance and cultural hybridity. London also has a special place in the literary imagination. This course will explore the relationship between the city of London and the modern novel in English. While our explicit focus will remain on London, our discussions will range to consider urban experience more broadly given that, as of 2008 the majority of the world’s population is urban—a demographic shift first was first witnessed in England in the late-nineteenth century. We will consider not only the way the city is imagined in fiction, but the sense in which the city itself becomes fictional––the product not only of human artifice in bricks and mortar but of the imagination. In the process, we will examine the emergence of the metropolis as a space of cosmopolitanism and global connection, and the ecology of this new human habitat. Please note: the reading load for this course is intense. You are strongly advised to read one or more of the novels prior to the beginning of the term, most notably Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, which is both the first and longest novel we will be reading. 


Two English courses or permission of department.