Lauren M Grant
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
As the novel emerged in the eighteenth century, numerous authors and critics of the time period debated not only its literary potential, but its practical utility. And, it seems that for many one of the novel's most "useful" qualities could be found in its capacity to both teach and entertain. In his Rambler No. 4, Samuel Johnson notes that "these familiar histories may perhaps be made of greater use than the solemnities of professed morality, and convey the knowledge of vice and virtue with more efficacy than axioms and definitions." Yet, behind this enthusiasm for the novel's didactic potential lies an anxiety about achieving a perfectly exact blend of entertainment and instruction, for to supplement one's didactic agenda with too egregious an addition of entertainment value could potentially provoke unintended results and aberrant behavior. Thus, Johnson qualifies his praise of the novel with a disclaimer, cautioning authors to censure their portrayal of reality, narrating only the "best examples" of human experience as "these books are written chiefly to the young, the ignorant, and the idle to whom they serve as lectures of conduct and introductions into life."
Johnson's analysis of the educational potential of the novel form as seen in his Rambler No. 4 will be our jumping off point for this course. Keeping Johnson's prescription for socially responsible novels in mind, we will examine the novels of female authors of the mid to late eighteenth century and ask not only what sort of curriculum their fiction offers, but how this curriculum is communicated and how each author negotiates her text's precarious balance between the demands of education and entertainment. This framework will allow us to refine our close reading skills, practice posing critical questions that will inform our writing, and examine the novel form as an active participant in the eighteenth-century debate concerning female education.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
Course requirements will include a fairly heavy reading load, discussion leadership and response responsibilities, active in class participation, reading quizzes, and a final exam. Because this is a W course, you are also required to write and revise either on 10-15 page paper or two 5-7 page papers.
Novels (in order of use)
Fielding, Sarah. The Governess; or the Little Female Academy. Ontario: Broadview Press, 2005.
Lennox, Charlotte. The Female Quixote. London: Penguin Books, 2006.
Burney, Frances. Evelina, or a Young Lady's Entrance Into the World. Ontario: Broadview Press, 2001.
Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. Ontario: Broadview Press, 2002.
Secondary materials will be available either in a course pack, or on e-reserve. Possible Secondary Authors: John Locke, Samuel Richardson, Mary Wollstonecraft, Jean-Jacques Rosseau