The Novel to Jane Austen
The novel, although the most familiar literary genre in the
twenty-first century, is a comparative newcomer in literary
history much younger than epic, dramatic, or lyric
poetry, for example. According to the standard accounts, the
English novel "rose" from its primitive origins in the early
eighteenth century. In this course we'll try to figure out what
this "rise" is all about by reading some of the major works from
the genre's early days and examining the often controversial
history of the new literary form. We'll look at the romance,
sentimentalism, the Gothic novel, and literary criticism from
both the eighteenth and the twentieth centuries.
Primary readings will probably include Behn's Oroonoko,
Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Richardson's Pamela,
Fielding's Tom Jones, Sterne's Tristram Shandy, and
Austen's Pride and Prejudice.