Welcome to Novel(ties).

This is the course blog for Wayne State’s Eng 7024, Rise of the Novel, but I also hope to appeal to a larger audience of students and scholars of the eighteenth-century novel.  The title is meant to reference the “new” in the term novel, of course, but also the position of novels in this period as commodities–trendy trinkets purchased to enhance status, position readers in a communication network outside the text, and promote gossip–and thus always vulnerable to the charge of triviality.  I also like to think of what’s tied to the novel: other forms of discourse, ways of being, subjectivities.  Finally, if you’ll allow me to stretch the limits of my title, the ties to the novel I am most likely to post are actually links to novel-related conferences, books and web projects.

Course Description:
Students in this course will read a number of eighteenth-century fictional works, popular in their own time and now canonical. As we read these, we will dip into the debates about the “rise” (including questioning that term) of what was later, perhaps anachronistically, consolidated into “the novel,” examining sources from the period itself as well as works by today’s leading scholars of the novel.  In conversation with these primary and secondary sources, we will discuss such issues as the role of gendered desire in constructing the subjectivity of both fictional characters and the novels’ readers; the importance of the material, economic sphere of writing in creating products for a print market; and the various, often contradictory ideologies of gender, race and social status deployed by the novels themselves. Additionally, we will begin to discern the relationships among overlapping generic labels such as “novel,” “history,” and “romance,” and other descriptive terms that cluster around the fiction of this period, such as epistolarity, propriety,  sentiment, and the gothic.

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