For our next class
Our assignment for next time is pages 7-142 in Jane Austen's Emma. Be sure to review this handout before coming to class.
Links to other handouts can be found here. Good to know, just in case you miss something . . .
In this course, we’ll study works of prose fiction written from the middle of the eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century. We’ll begin with a work that’s often identified as the first English novel, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, and go on to consider such widely different texts as Emma, Oliver Twist, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
Although a number of themes will emerge naturally, over the course of our discussions, a few possibilities should be noted ahead of time. We’ll surely end up talking about love, sex, and money—looking to see how characters try to reconcile their sexual desires with their social aspirations. And, since moral issues are of paramount importance to all of our writers, we’ll also want to consider questions of good and evil, virtue and vice. What kinds of moral challenges do these characters seem to face? And what ways of overcoming those challenges are they able to discover?
We’ll spend much of our time trying to make distinctions among our books, asking (for example) how Dickens’s image of London differs from Fielding’s. At many points, however, we’ll want to pull the books together, turning our attention to larger, more general issues--including issues of generic definition. Here are some of the questions we’ll want to ask:
- How has the novel been distinguished from other forms of fiction?
- How are novels supposed to be different from epics or romances?
- Are there any attitudes, values, or habits of mind that might be identified as distinctively novelistic?
- Are there any narrative techniques that might be associated chiefly (if not exclusively) with the novel?
- Does the novel seem to offer a distinctive image of human life and human personality—and if so, what is it?
- How do novels tend to account for differences and conflicts between human beings? What do novels tell us about social relationships? How do novels tend to present and imagine issues of gender or class?
- What larger social or historical forces might have helped to shape or define the novel? Why might the novel have begun its “rise” in the 1700s? Why might it have become the most popular literary form of the 1800s?
We won’t find definitive answers to all of these questions, but we should have learn a lot in the process of trying. Our aim here, finally, will be to defamiliarize our thinking about the novel as a literary form. We grow up with novels, and so we often come to think of novelistic plots, devices, and techniques as natural phenomena. The challenge for us is to see them as human inventions, products of particular times and places.
ENG 465 as speaking intensive
The main goal of a speaking-intensive course is not to help you with the mechanics of oral delivery. It is instead to sharpen your skills as a reader and thinker. To give a brief oral report of the sort assigned in this class, you’ll need to know your material inside and out—and know your audience too. Because speaking requires knowledge of that sort, it can be just as challenging as writing—and is no less deserving of attention from both students and teachers.
In this class, you’ll be asked to do three different types of oral assignments: you’ll participate in class discussions; you’ll give brief oral reports on topics I assign; and do an oral interview with me as part of your final examination.
From here, you can review course policies and keep track of assignments and deadlines.
mail to Mr. Spurgin
last modified 10-16-04