ENG489H1F - L0101

Advanced Studies Seminar: Theory of the Novel


Thursday 2 pm - 4 pm


C. Schmitt

E-mail: cannon.schmitt@utoronto.ca

Brief Description of Course

The novel is the modern literary genre par excellence. But why do novels exist, and how do they function? In this course we will engage with the most deeply considered and influential answers to those questions given over the last century. Immersing ourselves in landmark contributions to the theory of the novel, we will read widely in formalism, historicism, Marxism, narratology, post-structuralism, queer theory, and postcolonialism. We’ll have one literary text in common to enable deeply informed in-class discussion and analysis: Olive Schreiner’s remarkable and problematic The Story of an African Farm (1883).

Required Reading(s)

Excerpts from work on the theory of the novel by Benedict Anderson, Erich Auerbach, Mikhail M. Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, Fredric Jameson, Georg Lukács, Edward Said, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and others. One novel, Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm.

First Three Authors/Texts

Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm; Lukács, from The Theory of the Novel; Bakhtin, “Discourse in the Novel”

Method of Evaluation

  • In-class participation
  • Two short précis
  • One short interpretation
  • Take-home final exam