ENGLISH 360 - The Rise of the Novel
Fall 2022, Section 001 - The Advent of the Modern Novel and How It Works
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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With permission of instructor.
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The modern novel is a relatively recent form of storytelling.  This genre is relatively easy to define: it is a fictional prose (i.e., not poetry which is often rhymed and metrical) narrative of substantial length.  While one may question whether the novel need be fictional (i.e., made up) or the requirement that the novel be written in prose, this simple, if baggy, definition seems generally apt.  It does not, however, say anything about why or how novels became popular.  A few key features accounting for the genre’s ‘rise’ seem fairly plain.  First, the novel lives and dies by its ability to create the fictional illusion of a complete world.  This world may be highly realistic in the sense that it conforms closely to a recognizable historical moment, or it may be utterly fantastic.  In either case, we must be able to see ourselves in it, imagine breathing its atmosphere, and encountering its creatures and landscapes.  Second, the reader must be driven to know what happens next, or, in all likelihood, he or she will put the book down.  The other pleasures of the prose will probably not be sufficient to hold the reader in the absence of a compelling storyline and/or characters.  Third, even if it is only to suggest the impossibility of finding meaning in art and experience, the narrative will have some significance beyond a mere recitation of characters and events.  Stories of all types tempt us to connect them with explanations of larger meanings, values, and phenomena.  

In this class, we will use a set of British and American novels to explore the genre, studying its key attributes and how it works.  We will inevitably play close attention to character, plot, and setting.  But we will also get into the finer grained details of our novels, such as their use of different forms of narrative voice, symbolism, vernacular, and tonal shifts (e.g., into and out of an ironic tone).  The relation of character and action to environment or setting is one line of inquiry we will consider throughout the class.  For instance, what role does setting play in shaping both character and action?  We will think about the historical context of each novel and the relation between the two.

Readings will likely include works by Jane Austen, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, Rudolfo Anaya, among others.


Major Requirement: American Literature 

Course Requirements:

Written work will include a couple of analytic papers, weekly response papers, and some kind of summative overview paper at the end of class.  Class attendance and participation will be required. 


ENGLISH 360 - The Rise of the Novel
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM

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