Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Juliet D Shields
ENGL 550
Seattle Campus

Studies in Narrative

Class description

From their uncertain seventeenth-century origins on into the twentieth century, the British novel and the British empire developed simultaneously. This course investigates the hypothesis that their development was mutually influential: the British novel was shaped by imperial travel, trade, and discovery; and novels in turn modeled new ways of understanding the world beyond Britain. We will take five novels as case studies: Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1689), Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814), and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1847), and E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India (1924). By placing these five novels in conversation with a range of genre theory from Ian Watt’s Rise of the Novel and Nancy Armstrong’s Desire and Domestic Fiction to Fredric Jameson’s The Political Unconscious and Homi Bhabha’s Locations of Culture, we’ll examine how accounts of the novel’s relationship to Britain’s imperial history have been influenced by poststructural, postcolonial, psychoanalytic, and feminist thought. We’ll also consider how the development of two modes of prose fiction—realism and romance—each worked to resolve the political and cultural conflicts generated by Britain’s imperial ventures in different ways.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Juliet D Shields
Date: 10/13/2011