Histories and Theories of the Eighteenth-Century British Novel
The frequent claim that 18th-century England was the birthplace of the modern novel raises a number of questions. How do certain texts slip in and out of canons, while other remain fixtures in classrooms, scholarly works, and bookshelves? What do we even mean by “novel”?
This class will look at bestsellers from the era, texts we now consider “classics,” as well as the “fathers of the English novel” (as well as the implications and complications of such labels). We will also, however, look some novels recently rediscovered by scholars that are changing the way we view the novel and the eighteenth century. Alongside these primary sources, we will also explore some of the theories, histories and myths surrounding the “birth of the English novel.”