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ENGLISH 113: 'The secret of deep human sympathy': Great Victorian Novels

The Victorian period is often referred to as the Age of the Novel: never before or since did fiction play such a central part in the English literary landscape. Through a close scrutiny of works by Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, this course will probe the formal innovations of four major nineteenth-century writers. Each novel will be tackled through five main approaches: the contexts that informed the work (such as the development of London, evolving attitudes towards criminality, subjectivity, childhood, and biology); the impact of publication methods on the novel (Oliver Twist and Tess of the d¿Urbervilles originally appeared in periodicals as, respectively, a monthly and a weekly serial; Jane Eyre and Adam Bede were first published as three-volume novels); innovations with narrative voice (for example how the novelists make use of third-person omniscient and first-person narration, and how and why they address the reader); the novels¿ stylistic particularities (from their manipulation of imagery to their experimentation with genre); and the major critical debates surrounding them (such as recent discussions concerning the extent to which the Victorian novel consolidated or challenged nineteenth-century values). Throughnour four novels, we will span the Victorian period, from Queen Victoria¿s arrival on the throne to anxieties and experimentations of the fin-de-siècle.
Terms: Win | Units: 5
Instructors: ; Owens, T. (PI)
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