G-LSUD3 EnLit336 Nineteenth-Century Realism and the English Novel

Course type



Through a close reading of three nineteenth-century English novels, Pride and Prejudice, Hard Times and The Mill on the Floss, this course will explore the complexity, slipperiness, and elasticity of the term ‘realism’. Although realist fiction is undoubtedly committed to a historical particularity, as a form of mimesis realism can never be identical with that which it represents, since its tools, i.e., language/words, can never function as flawless, objective mirrors. The serious artistic treatment of ordinary people and their experience, linear plots, omniscient narrators, round characters are of course elements associated with a realistic mode of representation. Yet, the British nineteenth-century realist project is not explicit, this course aims to show, and British realist writers seem to exploit narrative techniques in ways that acknowledge the impossibility of a hundred percent objective representation and even question the nature of reality. The use of Free Indirect Speech in Austen, for example, the circularity of time in Eliot, or the mixing of literary genres in Dickens, both anticipate modernist writing and complicate the historical moment they represent. Expected learning outcomes: •Familiarization of students with the term ‘realism’ in art and the narrative conventions of realism in literature •Ability of students to perceive realism in relation to the literary modes that preceded it and those that followed it •Familiarization of students with the political, social, and cultural context of the novels discussed, and ability to judge how it is reflected in them Recommended Bibliography: Items listed on the Course Outline Distribution of Course Outline with thematic units and exam material: YES Distribution of textbooks: YES Distribution of related bibliography: available on Reserve in the library Method of assessment: A. an essay-type exam at the end (two essays), or B. (if numbers permit) 1) oral presentation on a selected topic, 2) a small written assignment, and 3) an essay-type exam at the end (one essay)


Teaching hours: 3 | Credits: 3 | ECTS: 6

Winter Wednesday13:30 16:00417 Kitsi-Mitakou Katerina