17. Outline Syllabus (I'm working on this--month of June, 2019)
DEAR STUDENTS: This is an outline of the course. Please do not purchase any secondary texts prior to 1 July, when the final version of the syllabus will be online; I'm working out a logic for the readings, but things will come and go on this web page over the next short while while I balance things out. If you want to start reading something, the Eliot texts--the novels--are set. Please feel free to purchase these as soon as possible, ideally in Oxford University Press World's Classics editions.
Convenor - Dr Michael Meeuwis
George Eliot’s many readers know of her interest in presenting something like a vision of a society: an account of how individuals function within a wider social pattern, figured variously as a web or a labyrinth. This module pairs a reading of Eliot’s major novels with an introduction to academic sociology—a discipline that developed while Eliot was writing her novels. We will establish what it means to read literature sociologically, and the ways that Eliot’s own distinct intellectual project attempts itself a type of sociology. It's a chance for a slow reading of all of Eliot's major fiction, along with the chance to do some interdisciplinary work in what may be a new academic field again.
In a different academic era, we'd call this something like "George Eliot's vision of a society." In our current moment, I'm interested in how nineteenth-century literature invented our categories of social analysis—and indeed how nineteenth-century literature might give us new, or at least still-useful, ideas for doing so. This isn't "a Durkheimian reading of Eliot is x"; it's more a chance to show how these writers think alongside one another.
Assessment: choice of two papers (50/50%), or of one paper (50%) and one exam (50%). Separate assessment for second- and third-year students: 3,500 vs. 4,000 word papers, with second-year students writing from a list of provided titles and third-year students developing their own title in consultation with the instructor.