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.