Genre (18-19C Colonization & the Novel)

This course will
offer students a broad introduction to the novel as a historical narrative
form. Through readings of a wide variety of novels, travel writing, and other
prose narrative from the eighteenth- and nineteenth centuries, students will
develop an understanding of how the novel form drew from other kinds of
narrative, poetic, dramatic and ethnographic writings to become, as it is
today, the most popular form of fiction writing on the print market.

The novels that
we will read in this course are organized around a specific thematic focus:
eighteenth- and nineteenth-century colonialism, which provided both one of the
most important narrative precursors for the novel (travel writing and
ethnography) as well as crucial context for the kinds of stories that the
earliest novels told. Our study of the novel’s beginnings will open with Aphra
Behn’s OROONOKO and close with Charlotte Bronte’s  JANE EYRE. The course will conclude with a
jump to a twentieth-century novel: Jean Rhys’ WIDE SARGASSO SEA. Our reading of
this contemporary work of fiction will offer students a modern-day example of
the critique of the relationship between the novel and colonialism, the same
relationship that we will be exploring and developing throughout the course.

Readings may
include Aphra Behn’s OROONOKO; Daniel Defoe’s MOLL FLANDERSor ROXANA; Leonora Sansay’s SECRET HISTORY; OR, THE HORRORS OF ST.
DOMINGO; Olaudah Equiano’s slave narrative; James Cook’s travel writings of his
time in “Ohwhyhee” [Hawai`i], Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE, and Jean Rhys’ WIDE

Assignments will
include weekly response papers, short essays, final exam, and possibly quizzes.