English 159-1 - Winter, 2019

Topics in the Novel

    Topic: Imperial Adventure

Class Information

Instructor: Roy, Parama
CRN: 33293
Time: TR 1:40-3:00
Location: 1060 Bainer


    Topics in the Novel: Imperial Adventure Fiction

    The nineteenth century saw an unprecedented expansion of British imperial territories across the globe; as is well known, nearly a quarter of the earth’s land surface was a part of the British empire by century’s end. This expansion of Britain’s empire was generative of a great reservoir of books and narratives set in lands beyond Europe. In 1891 the writer, critic, and folklorist Andrew Lang wrote: “There has, indeed, arisen a taste for exotic literature: people have become alive to the strangeness and fascination of the world beyond the bounds of Europe and the United States . . . men of imagination and literary skill have been the new conquerors--the Corteses and Balboas of India, Africa, Australia, Japan, and the isles of the Southern Seas. . . . New strength has come from fresher air into their brains and blood, hence the novelty and buoyancy of the stories which they tell.” For two centuries or more, beginning with Robinson Crusoe, imperial adventure fiction, featuring imperial and usually male protagonists facing unusual hazards (shipwreck, cannibalism, lost civilizations, and contact with prehistoric animals, dangerous natives, and exotic women) in distant locales, was a staple of English literature. The genre helped in many instances to sustain the mystique of empire and in others to present a more complex and critical view of imperialism. This course will examine some of the salient examples of this popular cultural form, beginning with Defoe’s famous novel and covering the writings of Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Joseph Conrad.


    Attendance and participation; forum posts; quizzes; 4-5 page paper; 7-8 page paper; take-home final


    Robinson Crusoe, ed. Michael Shinagel (2nd edition), Robinson Crusoe
    She, ed. Daniel Karlin, H. Rider Haggard
    The Lost World, ed. Ian Duncan, Arthur Conan Doyle
    Fictions of Empire : Heart of Darkness, the Man Who Would Be King, and the Beach at Falesá , John Kucich and Alan Richardson