ENGLISH 452 - Studies in Literature, 1830-Present
Winter 2022, Section 001 - Reading for the Plot
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (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 not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 1/5/22 - 4/19/22 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


CHECK IT OUT - Video Course Description!

“To read for the plot” usually means to read fast, superficially, uncritically. (Similar phrases have a different meaning in meme culture, but we will leave those aside for now.) Students who take 400-level English courses would never do such a thing. But what exactly is plot, anyway? What is its appeal for us as readers, and how did it get such a bad reputation? What makes a plot seem more or less successful? What kind of ethical, political, and ideological work do plots do? How do they shape our beliefs on topics ranging from individual agency to gender to climate change? Can novels do without plot—and if so, what do they offer instead?

Those are the kinds of questions this course will ask as we study the literary history and theory of plot. We will begin in the nineteenth century, which is arguably the heyday of the heavily plotted novel but where, as we will see, plot was already controversial. We will consider developments in plot in the movement from Victorian to modernist fiction, and we will read a couple of twenty-first century novels to consider recent experiments in plotting, especially the refusal of plot. 

Likely texts: George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (1860); Wilkie Collins, No Name (1862); Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927); Teju Cole, Open City (2011); Rachel Cusk, Outline (2014). Alongside these novels we will read narrative theory and literary criticism.


ENGLISH 452 - Studies in Literature, 1830-Present
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
 In Person
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
1/5/22 - 4/19/22

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