ENGLISH 460 - Studies in the Novel
Fall 2020, Section 001 - Fiction and Reality
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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Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


Novels are fictional—that is, explicitly made-up stories about imaginary characters—yet they typically strive to convince their readers they are true to life. Taking this paradox as our starting point, this course will explore such questions as: What techniques do novelists use to make their novels seem “realistic”—and what does that even mean? What understanding of reality do novels promote? How have these techniques and these understandings changed over time? What assumptions—about people or society or the physical universe—guide our own sense of how true-to-life a novel seems? What are the benefits and pitfalls of using novels as a lens through which to view the real world?

We will read a series of novels starting with the heyday of realism in the second half of the nineteenth century and ending with twenty-first century autofiction; we will also read related critical and theoretical work. Likely novels include: Elizabeth Gaskell, Cousin Phillis (1863); George Eliot, Daniel Deronda (1876); George Gissing, New Grub Street (1891); Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927); Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001); and Rachel Cusk, Transit (2016).

Course Requirements:

The main written assignments will be a series of close readings and analytical essays of increasing length. There will also be brief response papers.

Intended Audience:

Online-only students are welcome!

Class Format:

Exams: Asynchronous and Online

Lectures: Synchronous and Online

Class Discussions: Synchronous/Asynchronous and Online


ENGLISH 460 - Studies in the Novel
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM

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