This course is a survey of the British novel in the twentieth century, during which the form increasingly became fraught with self-consciousness and irony. To an unprecedented extent, novelists themselves entered into skirmishes over questions such as: Should the novel describe the workings of historical reality or must it reveal the intricacies of the self and its inner life? Should the novel, like other arts, assiduously pursue the perfection of its technique and medium or must it abandon itself vitally to chance, fluidity, and hybridity, appropriating and incorporating all manner of ideas, expressive possibilities, and forms? Is representation ever objective or ideologically innocent? Are conventions such as “realism,” “character,” “plot” and “narrator” still meaningful or aesthetically interesting and how must they be redesigned to meet the demands of contemporary experience? What are the novel’s unique pleasures in a world overridden by narratives in visual media? We will explore the responses these questions have generated in novels, statements by novelists, and narrative theory.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902)
James Joyce, Chapters 1 and 4 of Ulysses (1922)
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)
Graham Greene, The Quiet American (1955)
Angela Carter The Passion of New Eve (1977)
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses (1988)
Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001)
Critical essays by Ian Watt, Virginia Woolf, Seymour Chatman, Eric Auerbach, Peter Brooks, Rosemary Jackson, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Patricia Waugh, and Linda Hutcheon.
Course Requirements: 4 short pieces of close reading (2-3 pages), 2 essays (5-7 pages), and a class presentation.
This Course satisfies the Introductory Requirement for the English major has no pre-requisites.