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Module Details 2019-20





Course Convenor and Seminar Tutor:

Prof Paulo de Medeiros (Office Hours: H 526, Tue 11-12, Wed 11-12)

Course Aims
The European Novel module seeks to provide an understanding of the novel form through the study of works of European long fiction from the late eighteenth to the late twentieth century. It aims to explore key stages and transitions in the history of the form across Europe and the range of narrative possibilities and thematic concerns it encompasses. We will focus in particular on similarities and differences of period, region and culture; on the nature of novelistic narrative and the formal techniques and devices of narration; and on the issues raised by theories of narrative and the idea of realism.

Primary texts
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774); Jane Austen, Emma (1815); Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1857); Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment (1866); Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877); Émile Zola, Germinal (1885); Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925); Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925); Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard (1958); Lídia Jorge, The Murmuring Coast (1988); Assia Djebar, Algerian White (1996); Seamus Deane, Reading in the Dark (1996); W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz (2001); Olga Tokarczuk, Flights (2007); Javier Marías, Thus Bad Begins (2016); Diana Evans, Ordinary People (2018); Sally Rooney, Normal People (2019.

Course arrangements
Terms I and II: The listed novels are extensively discussed in weekly seminars of one hour each, and are also addressed in the weekly lectures. Seminars will consist of about 15 students. The lectures will be centred on one (or sometimes two) of the set texts as indicated on the lecture list but may on occasions refer to other novels and introduce material of historical and critical kinds where these can prove helpful for an understanding of the novel in general. Term III: Seminars are reduced to one or two revision sessions and students are expected to prepare for the final examination. To assist that work, Term III lectures take up issues raised in the first two terms and offer a retrospect on the course, while at the same time indicating further twentieth-century developments and the continuing vitality of the novel form to the present day. Since the reading for the course is necessarily fairly heavy, students are urged to read as many as possible of the prescribed texts in the Summer vacation, and to concentrate on reading these in preference to works of theory or criticism. However, a secondary reading list of critical and theoretical studies is provided and continuing discussion throughout the year of seminal theories and critical approaches to narrative is an important feature of the course.

Examination arrangements

For 2019-20 assessment will be as follows:

Intermediate students: 50/50: 1 x 3000 word essay due at the end of T2 and 1 x 2-hour exam centrally scheduled

Finalists: 40/40/20: 1X 4000-word essay due at the end of T2 + 1x 2-hour exam centrally scheduled + Group Video essay/podcast/individual blogpost (scheduled across the year).

The exam paper is split into two sections:

1. An analysis and comparison of two out of three passages from the set texts, paying particular attention to how they are narrated.

2. An essay, in answer to one of four to six questions, which focuses primarily on two of the set texts. 

Philosophy and Literature students may choose to be assessed in this way or to omit the essay and take a further two-hour examination.

In addition, all students can write one short optional and non-assessed essay ('Collections Exercises' approximately 1500-2000 words each) in Term I. This will involve a close reading of two short passages from the prescribed novels and serve both as background to the term’s seminar discussion and as a preparation for the first section of the final examination. 

Learning Outcomes
: By the end of this module you should have:

1. Deepened your understanding of the set texts and developed your ability to read a novel analytically; attending not only to what it says but also the way that it says it.

2. Acquired an understanding of the novel form and how, throughout its history, it is continually being subverted, transformed and redefined.

3. Acquired an understanding of the formal techniques of narration and their effects: e.g. the role of different kinds of narrator; the question of the author; the differences between various modes of linguistic register; the importance of focalisation; the workings of free indirect discourse.

4. Begun to understand and critically assess the key social, historical and political factors that have shaped these particular novels in national, continental and global settings.

5. Developed your ability to discuss texts comparatively and acquired some understanding of different cultural traditions of fiction as they appear within and between European nations and locales.

6. Acquired some grasp of the theoretical issues raised by the novel form, particularly in transitions from romanticism to realism and modernism in various European contexts.

7. Acquired a contextual framework – geographical/formal/historical – for your reading of European novels in general.

8. Improved your skills in close textual analysis and essay writing.

(to be updated for 2019-20)

Seminar Plan of the Module*

Autumn Term Weeks 1-2 Introduction and Werther; 
Week 3 Emma
; Week 4 Madame Bovary; 
Week 5 Crime and Punishment; Week 7 Anna Karenina; 
Week 8 Germinal (and Anna Karenina); 
 Week 9 The Trial; Week 10 Mrs. Dalloway.

Spring Term Week 1 The Leopard; Week 2 The Murmuring Coast; 
Week 3 Algerian White; 
Week 4 Reading in the Dark; 
Week 5 Austerlitz; Week 7 Flights; 
Week 8 Thus Bad Begins; 
Week 9 Ordinary People; Week 10 Normal People.

Summer Term Weeks 2-3 Revision Lectures

*Note that seminar tutors may wish to vary this pattern, which is only indicative.