ENGL456 - The Nineteenth-Century English Novel

Considering the novel at the peak of its cultural authority -- and, by some accounts, the period of its greatest aesthetic achievement -- this course surveys some major works in the genre from Victorian Britain. The novels we will read are likely to include: Emily Brontèˆ, Wuthering Heights; Charles Dickens, Bleak House; George Eliot, Middlemarch; Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White; Thomas Hardy, The Woodlanders; and a number of shorter works. We will address formal questions about narration, characterization, plot, and duration, as well as investigating such issues as the literary representation of class, nation, and empire; the constraints and possibilities for bodies, senses, gender, and sexuality; psychological elements of identity, affect, and emotion; residual and emergent concepts of value, belief, and culture; and the political and ideological implications of narrative aesthetics. Selected critical articles will also be assigned. Students should be prepared for several extremely long (800+ page) novels; it will be necessary to read Bleak House and Middlemarch before the semester begins. Active participation in discussion, presentation, two essays (including research), and a final exam.


Two English courses in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department.