English 159-2 - Winter, 2018

Topics in the Novel

Topic: The Novel as a Time Machine

Class Information

Instructor: Thomas, George
CRN: 74422
Time: MWF 2:10-3:00
Location: 1038 Wickson


As Tobias Wilson-Bates and James Gleick have recently argued, the novel is a kind of time machine—it allows us to “travel” to other times. Such travel happens in various forms: historical novels take us back to earlier eras; time travel novels take the idea literally and depict people actually going to the past; counterfactual novels imagine times that never were, but might have been; dystopian novels imagine a future where things have gone terribly wrong; apocalyptic novels imagine the end of time; and what I call temporal novels ask probing questions about what time itself is. We will read novels (or excerpts) of all these types, as well as a dash of theory, in order to ask not only what novels say about time, but also what is at stake in the journeys they imagine.


Attendance/Participation, Two Papers, Group Presentation, Final Exam, Reading Responses.


The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
Kindred, Octavia Butler
The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
The Man in the High Castle, Phillip K. Dick