English 155A - Spring, 2018

18th Century British Novel

Class Information

Instructor: Johns, Alessa
CRN: 81973
Time: TR 1:40-3:00
Location: 158 Olson


    In this course we will study innovative British writers who created the novel as we know it: Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Charlotte Lennox, Henry Mackenzie, the Anonymous author of The Woman of Colour, and Jane Austen. We will consider the kinds of texts that influenced the emergence of the novel-for example, newspapers, conduct literature, model letters, polemics, and travel accounts-and we will address socio-cultural, economic, and political issues arising at a time of enormous change in the literary marketplace. Which historical factors enabled the development of this new literary form? Who were its readers and patrons? How, with time, did it come to gain prominence over other prestigious literary genres? What were the predominating themes? How did women and people of color contribute to the "rise of the novel"? How did bookselling practices affect the genre's formal characteristics? Indeed, how do we best discuss formal characteristics in a literature so new and experimental? What did Austen, the best-known and current favorite author on this syllabus, inherit from her predecessors, and how did she alter this popular genre?


    Grades will be based on quizzes and in-class assignments (15%), papers (30%), a midterm (20%), a final (20%), and attendance/participation (15%). There will be an extra credit option.


    Oroonoko, Aphra Behn
    Roxana, Daniel Defoe
    Clarissa (excerpts), Samuel Richardson
    The Man of Feeling, Henry Mackenzie
    The Woman of Colour, Anonymous
    Emma, Jane Austen