The (Colonial) Rise of the British Novel

Spring 2015 quarter

Taught by

British literature

What is a novel? How did this art form develop? It is perhaps hard for us to imagine a world without novels, where poetry, drama and nonfiction ruled the literary world. Grounded in British literature, this upper-division program will explore the rise of the novel. We will read examples ranging from speculative prose fiction in the 17th century to established examples of the novel in the 19th century. We will consider the novel as both an art form that establishes a genre and one that breaks genre boundaries.

The intersection of colonialism, nationalism and the emerging novel will also be an important focus of our attention. Although we call these works "British novels," we might equally view them as an international art form, one concerned with the politics of colonialism, an emerging global empire and the shadowy figures of those who live outside the British Isles.

In order to accomplish this, we will read works by Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Joseph Conrad. In addition to these novels, we will read excerpts from other works, critical views on the rise of the novel and contemporary theory concerning literature and colonialism. Film versions of the texts will be shown as required. By the end of the program, students will have a firm foundation in British literature, exposure to significant strands of literary theory and experience with upper-division literary research.

In this program, students will be asked to prepare a 20-minute in-class presentation, to lead class discussions and to produce a long (15-plus pages) critical paper, in addition to regular minor assignments. The best work in this program will be useful for graduate school applications.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

advanced studies or careers in literature, writing and the humanities.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

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Required Fees

$50 for entrance fees to plays, tours and films.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Number

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 30086

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