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Unit information: The Rise of the Novel in 19th-Century Europe in 2015/16

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Unit name The Rise of the Novel in 19th-Century Europe
Unit code MODLM2035
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Davies
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This core unit in the MA programme in European Literatures explores the generic characteristics and evolution of the novel as the central achievement of 19th-century literature in Europe. The unit will be team-taught by specialists in at least three major literatures (as a typical minimum: French, German, Russian); it will also include reference to or more significant examination of other traditions. Precise choice of texts will vary from year to year, but major exemplars of the novel form will be selected so as to enable maximally fruitful comparison of formal features and thematic preoccupations. The unit will evaluate a variety of critical approaches to the novel. Emphasis will be placed on comparison and contrast of specific social, ideological and aesthetic contexts within different European countries, with particular attention to the narrative strategies which determine the contours of the genre both nationally and internationally.

Intended learning outcomes

  1. Knowledge and understanding of major strands of European thought, literature, history and culture
  2. Knowledge and understanding of the commonalities and diversity of European culture, broadly defined
  3. Students will be able to interpret and evaluate literary and other works and cultural/historical/intellectual trends
  4. Students will be able to synthesise information from a variety of sources, evaluate competing interpretations and make reasoned academic judgements
  5. Students will be able to compare the textual and other cultural products of different cultures, making fresh and imaginative connections between disparate material Students will be able to critically survey, analyse and interpret complex texts
  6. Students will be able to communicate effectively and present a cogent and comprehensive argument, both orally and in writing
  7. Students will be able to make appropriate use of information technology for research and presentation of work
  8. Students will be able to undertake research using appropriate source materials
  9. Students will be able to work independently and to deadlines, to an exacting scholarly level.

Teaching details

2 hour weekly seminar

Assessment Details

1 x 5000 word essay

Reading and References

The primary texts will change from year to year. The unit will be made up of a selection of a number of the following primary texts:

  • Balzac, Le Père Goriot
  • Dostoevskii, Crime and Punishment
  • Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
  • Zola, L’Assommoir
  • Fontane, Effi Briest
  • Galdos, Misericordia