English 159 - Fall, 2017

Topics in the Novel


Class Information

Instructor: Martel, Michael
CRN: 41902
Time: MWF 3:10-4:00
Location: 1116 Hart


    Satirizing Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, Henry Fielding’s Shamela expanded the developing novel’s generic range. Charlotte Lennox found a foothold in an expanding marketplace by providing readers with a female, English Quixote. Charles Dickens’s career as a novelist commenced with the raucous Pickwick Papers. This course explores the numerous ways that comedy shadowed significant developments in the British novel during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Reading comedic fiction from pivotal moments in the history of the novel, we will examine how comic modes inflected experiments in novelistic interiority, the bildungsroman, seriality, psychological realism, and even adventure fiction. Because comedy offers, as George Meredith puts it, “a game played to throw reflections upon social life,” the goal of this course is, in part, to understand how comedy informed the major formal, cultural, and political dimensions of the British novel, from its modes of characterization, fictionality, and hybridity to its engagement with questions of gender, class, nation, and empire. Above all, this course asks whether the comedic marks a novelistic subgenre or, rather, constitutes the novel form itself.


    The Female Quixote , Lennox
    The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy , Sterne
    The Pickwick Papers , Dickens
    The Egoist , Meredith
    Three Men in a Boat , Jerome