Description: The 18th century was a time of profound
change in English-speaking societies: new economic systems and accompanying
changes in social relationships, new foreign markets and cultures, new nations,
and a new literary genre–the novel–in which all these changes are reflected
and reflected upon by authors and readers. In fact “novel” means
“new.” We will examine the rapid and complex development of the genre via
four key novels in comparison with their “re-representations” in
another genre that underwent rapid and complex changes in the 20th century:
film. At the beginning of the 18th
century, literary fiction was such a “novel” idea that writers like Defoe
sold their fiction as true adventures or confessions; by the 1760s writers like
Sterne were writing what we would come to call anti-novels: works that
challenge the literary conventions of the genre. Representational strategies in
film underwent similar radical changes that reflected changing social
Required Texts, along with their important films
- Daniel Defoe, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. . .
(1719) and Luis Buñuel, The Adventures of
Robinson Crusoe (1954)
- Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling (1749) and Tony Richardson, Tom Jones (1963)
- Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent. (1759-67) and
Michael Winterbottom, A Cock and Bull
- Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus
(1818) and James Whale, Frankenstein
IMPORTANT: While these novels are available in
various editions as well as online, in each case the most recent Norton Critical Edition is REQUIRED.
The correct editions of these texts will be available at Revolution Books, 2626
S. King Street.
- Four 3-4 page essays: one on each of the
- Revision of at least one of the above
- Final 6-page essay on an 18th century
novel in English not assigned in class
- Reports on their chosen topic.
- In-class quizzes and writing assignments.
- Final exam.
- Regular attendance and participation in
be aware that 18th century novels were, for the most part, quite lengthy, and
that although we are reading only four novels, a great deal of reading outside
of class will be required.