Course Details

ENGL 217: A Novel Education

Samuel Johnson declared novels to be “written chiefly to the young, the ignorant, and the idle, to whom they serve as lectures of conduct, and introductions into life.” This course explores what sort of education the novel offered its readers during a time when fiction was considered a source of valuable lessons and also an agent of corruption. We will read a selection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century children’s literature, seduction fiction, and novels of manners, considering how these works engage with early educational theories, notions of male and female conduct, and concerns about the didactic and sensational possibilities of fiction. Authors include Samuel Richardson, Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, and Charles Dickens.
6 credits; LA, WR2; Offered Fall 2021; J. Leiman