Fall 2020 Undergraduate English Courses

358:326 Eighteenth Century Novel

01  MW4   CAC   05671  DIEHL  HH-B3

This course examines the development of the novel from its origins in the early eighteenth century. Now widely accepted as a dominant genre, the novel was not always a welcome addition to the literary landscape. Eighteenth-century critics saw novels as dangerous representations of the vicissitudes of life, especially for young readers (specifically women). In fact, the writer Samuel Johnson claims that they were “written chiefly to the young, the ignorant, and the idle, to whom they serve as lectures of conduct, and introductions into life.” With this consideration of audience in mind, our class will examine the origin of the novel as it is defined not only by its readership, but by authors and relationships to other literary genres. We will consider questions of social class positioning, gender relations, education, and narrative technique. Texts will include major works from Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, and Frances Burney, among others.