Cartoon of a caveman writing a novel on a cave wall

This course will aim to survey the central formal modes and literary movements of the novel in the twentieth-and twenty-first centuries. In doing so, it aims to introduce students to the major stylistic incarnations of the novel form, especially modernism, naturalism, postmodernism, social realism, postcolonial fiction, and science fiction. The course draws from a sampling of key British, American, and world authors to give students a sense of the various types of writing that have emerged over the course of the century. Although our thematic focus will be largely driven by the novels themselves and are thus likely to be broad and varies, one question we will consistently attend to in all our readings concerns how identity and subjectivity are presented in these various texts, the “I” of the novel that is constructed and reconstructed according to different formal strategies and various historical pressures. We will ask how style shapes subjectivity, and how different forms of identity emerge according to different novelistic innovations and historical pressures. Please note that because this is a course on the novel, the reading load for the class will be unavoidably heavy. You will be expected to keep up with the reading at a pace of approximately 150 pages a week on average.

Texts to be studied will likely include E.M. Forster's Howards End, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Jean Rhys's After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie, Nella Larsen's Passing, Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Sam Selvon's The Lonely Londoners, J.M. Coetzee's Foe, and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go.