A handful of great short to mid-sized novels from a golden age in English fiction, circa 1815-1930.  We’ll study Jane Austen’s Emma (1815), Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1847), Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations (1860-61), and Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (1927).  Topics will include (but not be limited to): social class and its powers and limits; women’s place and power in society; the evolution of fictional realism; the novel of character development (Bildungsroman); the emergence of literary modernism.  Some attention will be paid to the historical context in which these works were written, but the main emphasis will be on learning to read some classic texts with insight and appreciation.