ENGLISH 390 - Topics in Literary Criticism and Theory
Fall 2018, Section 001 - Theory of the Global Novel
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:


What is a novel, and how does it travel?

This course provides an introduction to literary theory through a focus on the global nature of literature in English today, focusing on the most dominant genre: the novel. Some of the questions we’ll answer along the way include:

  • What is a novel, and what isn’t? (And why did Shakespeare write only plays and sonnets?)
  • Do we care when (and where) the novel “begins”? Given that the first novel in Japanese dates from the 11th century, should we call the novel a Japanese invention?
  • Are novels geographically specific? We’ve all heard of “the great American novel” – should we be looking, similarly, for “the great Nigerian novel,” or “Pakistani novel,” or other national novels in English?
  • How did most of the world end up reading and writing novels? Did the form travel through the circuits of globalization – or are we all somehow registering similar historical experiences in this singular genre?
  • Why do we have “feminine” novels (romance, chick lit) and “masculine” ones (sci-fi, mystery)? Is this just a social misconception, or is there something gendered to the genre?
  • Is there such a thing as global literature? And does that include something like Harry Potter?

Required Texts

You are required to purchase five books:

Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Remains of the Day.

McKeon, Michael, ed. Theory of the Novel: a Historical Approach. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 1818. Please buy the Norton Critical Edition.

Vera, Yvonne. Butterfly Burning.

Tagore, Rabindranath. The Home and the World.

Additional critical readings will be made available via Canvas.

Course Requirements:

Two short (3-5pp.) papers; weekly short (1p.) responses; in-class final presentations


ENGLISH 390 - Topics in Literary Criticism and Theory
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
 In Person
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM

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