By the end of this module you should have:
1. Acquired an understanding of twelve texts spanning the whole of the nineteenth century, from Jane Austen to Hardy and Gissing.
2. Come to appreciate the range and variety of the novel in this, the richest, period of English fiction.
3. Acquired an understanding of how the novel develops in this period and how it responds to, and engages in the problems of, rapid and radical social change.
4. Developed your ability to read fiction analytically and acquired some understanding of its different modes: Gothic, ironic, satirical, pastoral, and historical romance as well as social realism.
5. Explored the representation of conflicts of class and gender and the novel’s preoccupation with the predicament of women (‘the woman question’) in particular.
6. Acquired an understanding of the distinctive characteristics of most of the major novelists of the century.
7. Improved your skills in close textual analysis and essay-writing.
Texts to Buy
These are the set texts in the order in which they will be discussed in seminars. Any modern paperback edition is acceptable, though you will find those with notes and introductions to be more useful.
Jane Austen, Persuasion
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Charlotte Brontë, The Professor
Thackeray, Vanity Fair
Dickens, Bleak House
Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South
M. E. Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret
George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss
Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Gissing, New Grub Street
Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
A weekly seminar of one and a half hours on Tuesday: either 11.30 to 1pm, or 3.30 to 5pm.
Sections of the Module
1. Introduction and the period 1800-1830 (weeks 1-4).
2. The mid-century, 1845-1865 (weeks 5-15)
3. The later nineteenth century and modern retrospect, 1870-1970 (weeks 17-20)
1. Attend seminars, having read the prescribed texts.
2. Deliver one short seminar paper to start discussion.
3. Submit two 5,000 word assessed essays or submit one 5,000 word essay and sit a two-hour final examination, in which you will be asked to answer two questions from about eight. These will be framed in general terms so that you may answer them with reference to pertinent texts of your own choice from the prescribed list or beyond.
Useful Background Reading
F. R. Leavis, The Great Tradition
Raymond Williams, The English Novel from Dickens to Lawrence
Plan of the Module
Week 1 Introduction
Week 2 Persuasion
Week 3 Frankenstein
Week 4 Confessions of a Justified Sinner
Week 5 Shirley
Week 6 Reading Week
Weeks 7-8 Vanity Fair
Weeks 9-10 Bleak House
Week 12 Lady Audley's Secret
Week 13-14 The Mill on the Floss
Week 15 Cousin Phillis
Week 16 Reading Week
Weeks17-18 Far from the Madding Crowd
Weeks 19 The Odd Women
Week 20 The Picture of Dorian Gray
There will also be two revision sessions in the summer term for those students who are taking the examination.