Romance and the Novel

This course explores a number of works in the British and American literary tradition that explore and engage with the traditional “marriage plot” and have influenced our cultural understanding of romance narratives. We will begin in the early eighteenth century with a piece of amatory fiction written by a prolific and market-savvy professional woman writer and will conclude with two late-twentieth-century works that appropriate and comment on the tropes of the romance plot. We will explore continuities and disjunctions in the evolving tradition of romance in the novel, and will read our selected texts through formal, cultural, and historical lenses. We will also discuss genre, gender, the concept of literary popularity, and canon formation, and will consider the variety of cultural reactions to women readers and writers since the eighteenth century.


  • Eliza Haywood, Fantomina
  • Frances Burney, Evelina
  • Jane Austen, Emma
  • Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy
  • Margaret Atwood, Lady Oracle

Plus additional short stories/secondary readings


  • 2 short essays
  • 4 1-2 page critical methods reports analyzing published articles
  • Midterm exam
  • Final exam
  • Group presentation on a contemporary text
  • Informal writing and participation