ENGLISH 361 - The Victorian Novel
Fall 2020, Section 001 - Fiction and the Meaning of Life
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
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What gives a life—or a particular event in a life—meaning? What makes a novel—or a particular detail in a novel—meaningful? Are these two questions related? Put differently, how is an individual’s attempt to make sense of their life, or see their life as meaningful, like or unlike a reader’s attempt to interpret a literary text?

We will pursue these questions as they are raised by and addressed in a series of British novels from the second half of the nineteenth century. In this era, the meaningfulness of individual lives and even the meaning of human existence as such came under newly widespread and urgent questioning (for reasons we’ll explore). As we shall see, this questioning led novelists to rethink and reimagine fundamental aspects of the novel itself as a literary form.

Novels we will read likely include Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens; Middlemarch, by George Eliot; The Story of an African Farm, by Olive Schreiner; and Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy. We will conclude with a twentieth-century novel, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, which asks what role the reading of nineteenth-century literature itself can or should play in the effort to lead a meaningful life.

Intended Audience:

Online-only students are welcome!

Class Format:

Exams: Asynchronous and Online

Lectures: Synchronous and Online

Class Discussions: Synchronous/Asynchronous and Online


ENGLISH 361 - The Victorian Novel
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM

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