Fall 2021

21L.705 Major Authors: Middlemarch and After (Great Novels by George Eliot and Henry James) James Buzard TR 11:00-12:30p 14N-112

Prereq: Two subjects in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-M; Can be repeated for credit
Topics: Improves Close Reading, Improves Oral Communication, Thinks about Gender or Sexuality, Thinks about Race or Class

This class studies three major works by two classic novelists of the English language.  It focuses on a critical decade in the history of the novel: 1870-1880.

We’ll begin with one of the greatest novels of them all: George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871-72), a masterpiece of fictional realism depicting the intricate webs of connection binding people together in community and history. Next we’ll examine Eliot’s subsequent (and last) novel, Daniel Deronda (1874-76), which pushes the boundaries of realism, exploring territory hitherto uncharted by this type of fiction. Last we’ll take up Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady (1880), a novel that rewrites the basic plot of Deronda in attempt to set the novel genre on a different course – toward Modernism, with its explorations in psychology (“stream of consciousness”) and formal experimentation.

Student work will involve frequent short response papers on readings, a brief oral report or two, and a creative project at the semester’s end.