Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

Course No:  350:641
Index # - 12546
Distribution Requirement:  A4
Tuesday - 4:30 p.m.   
MU 207

George Eliot 

David Kurnick

This course will give us an opportunity to pay sustained attention to a central figure in nineteenth-century literature and in the history of the novel, and to reflect on the intellectual value (and politics of) “slow” single-author study in the current moment, where speed and quantity are increasingly urged both in and outside the academy.

The most intellectually engaged of the big Victorian novelists, Eliot stands at the center of current critical work on cosmopolitanism, realism, nationalism, the anthropocene, liberalism, religion and secularism, science, gender, sexuality, and philosophical approaches to literature, and we’ll be exploring these and other topics (especially via secondary reading each week). While we’ll be thinking about George Eliot as a Victorian writer engaged with the various issues of her moment, we’ll also be asking about the formal procedures that define her artistry, about the relations between Eliot’s style and her ethics and politics, about the ways her plots map the social world, about how different critical schools (deconstruction, new historicism, queer theory, postcolonial studies, feminist criticism, eco-criticism) deal with different aspects of her work, or fail to. We’ll also look for ways Eliot’s work may evade or exceed historicist and biographical labels: what about Eliot’s work remains troubling, strange, untimely, unaccountable, un-“Victorian”?

We will read about seven of the novels and selections from Eliot’s essays and translations, as well as critical and theoretical work by authors including Rachel Ablow, Amanda Anderson, Isobel Armstrong, Erich Auerbach, Roland Barthes, Gillian Beer, Stanley Cavell, Lee Edelman, Michel Foucault, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Nathan Hensley, Neil Hertz, Anna Kornbluh, Grace Lavery, Wendy Lee, D.A. Miller, Franco Moretti, Aamir Mufti, Bruce Robbins, Emily Steinlight, Raymond Williams, and Nancy Yousef.

There will be one in-class presentations and a single research paper, of 20-25 pp. 

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