Syllabus

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.

A warning about content: eighteenth-century life could be brutal. While the novels we’ll study are not sexually explicit in the modern sense, we will read references to the implied threat of sexual violence as well as actual sexual assault. In addition, we will find in some of these novels depictions of violence done to black bodies, including enslavement, torture, dismemberment, and death. While the writers of this period are often, but not always, critiquing the existence of these practices, they are nonetheless disturbing.  They are intended to be. Eighteenth-century writers understood the affective power of fiction, and while they viewed that warily, they also deployed it strategically to achieve their artistic and cultural agendas. We will try to place these depictions in their historical context. This does not require setting aside our own ethical standards, even outrage, but does mean trying to understand the limitations placed on the writers and the ways they (sometimes) attempted to overcome these, often in ways that were (sometimes) much more “enlightened” for their time then it may seem today. At the same time, while recognizing that “it’s complicated,” we might well ask ourselves why it is that the birth of the novel is particularly complicit with representations of rape and racism.

Required Texts:
Samuel Richardson, Pamela (Oxford), 019953649X
Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews (Oxford) 019283343x
Horace Walpole, Castle of Otranto (Oxford), 9780192834409
Frances Burney, Evelina (Oxford), 9780199536931
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (Broadview), 1551114798
Aphra Behn, Oroonoko (Norton Critical Editions), 0393970140
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Broadview), 9781551119359
Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative (Broadview), 1551112626
John Thelwal, The Daughter of Adoption (Broadview), 9781554810635
Optional: Eliza Haywood Fantomina and Other Works (Broadview); Anti-Pamela (Broadview)

SCHEDULE:

Week 1/September 5:
Intro and Overview (presentation)
Selections from Novel Definitions: Commentary on the Novel, 1688-1815
Due: Set up blog; email link to me by Friday (to be discussed in class)

I. Domesticity and Gendered Reading

Week 2/September 12
Haywood, Fantomina* and Broadview introduction; Excerpt from Ballaster, Seductive Forms. (*or see optional edition, above)
In class: A Harlot’s Progress
Due: Blog 1; Sign up for book report

Week 3/September 19
Richardson, Pamela, Vol I
In class: Marriage A-la-Mode
Due: Blog 2; Reports on Watt, Armstrong

Week 4/September 26
Richardson, Pamela (complete)
Due: Blog 3; Reports on Keymer & Sabor, Warner

Week 5/October 3
Fielding, “Shamela,” 305-344; Excerpts from Haywood, Anti-Pamela  and “Present for a Servant Maid”; Joseph Andrews to 78
In class: The Ballad of Pamela
Due: Blog 4; Reports on Hunter, Davis

Week 6/October 10
Fielding, Joseph Andrews (complete); Catherine Gallagher, “The Rise of Fictionality
In class: The Rake’s Progress
Due Blog 5; Reports on Barchus, Raven (chs 4-10)

Week 7/October 17
Walpole, Castle of Otranto; Clery, “The Genesis of Gothic Fiction
Due: Blog 6; Report on Bakhtin

Week 7.5/October 21
Attend the Network Detroit Conference and Workshop sessions.  This is optional but highly recommended.

Week 8/October 24
Burney, Evelina, Vols. I and II (helpful video and site on women’s dress)
Due: Blog 7; Reports on Gallagher, Lynch

Week 9/October 31
Burney, Evelina (complete); Jones, “Burney and Gender
Due: Blog 8; Report on Park

Week 10/November 7
Austen, Northanger Abbey, incl. Appendices A, B, C1, D, F-J
Due: Blog 9; Report on Vermeule

II. Slavery and the Global Novel

Week 11/November 14
Behn, Oroonoko plus 189-194, 199-209, 232-256; start Defoe
Due: Prospectus/Proposal & Bibliography; Reports on Doyle, Aravamuden

Week 12/November 21
Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (complete); Brett C. McInelly, “Expanding Empires, Expanding Selves: Colonialism, the Novel, and Robinson Crusoe”
Due: Blog 10; Report on Wall

Week 13/November 28
Equiano, Interesting Life, 9-200, 248-253, 20-264; Davidson, “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself”
Due: Draft of Final Project

Week 14/December 5
Thelwal, Daughter of Adoption
Due: Report on Swaminathan

Exam Week/December 12
Project presentations
Due: Final Projects sent by email

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