Studies in the novel in one of its classic phases. Authors include Austen, the Brontes, Dickens, Thackeray.
Course Title: "Bad" Women in Early to Mid Nineteenth Century English Novels
Course Description: The early to mid nineteenth century is an intensely rich literary period, boasting novels by celebrated authors such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Charlotte Bronte. Among the elements common to the novels we will read this quarter, one in particular stands out: bad women. Prostitutes, lunatics, scheming social climbers, and unlikely heroines appear alongside their (perhaps) more civil—and "civilized"—counterparts. As we explore the assigned texts, our primary preoccupation will be to understand how these "good" or "bad" women are deployed as a way of theorizing, through fiction, a range of issues, including but not limited to marriage, poverty and class conflict, British imperialism, race, "Englishness" and national identity, gender (femininity and masculinity), and place (urban centers versus the provincial). We will explore relevant contextual and biographical information, in the form of group presentations and lectures, to better understand the assigned novels. We will also examine criticism—that is, the diverse and sometimes controversial critiques these texts have engendered, as well as the range of original and creative arguments we can form about them as readers and writers. In addition to the course texts listed below, we will likely explore excerpts of work by William Makepeace Thackeray, writing by Wilkie Collins (with whom Dickens co-authored The Perils of Certain English Prisoners), and possibly film adaptations of some of the assigned novels. When you purchase your books, please try to buy the same editions (ISBN numbers are provided here), since I will assign supplementary materials that are included in many of these editions.
Course Texts: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, ISBN #0393976041 Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, ISBN #039396292x Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, ISBN #0393975428 Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea, ISBN #0393960129 Charles Dickens, The Perils of Certain English Prisoners, ISBN #1419140892 Photocopied Course Packet
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading