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Unit information: Novel Territories: Eighteenth-century Prose Fiction in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Novel Territories: Eighteenth-century Prose Fiction
Unit code ENGL30115
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Rosalind Powell
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will introduce students to a range of experimental forms that trace the rise of the novel through the long eighteenth-century. The unit will enable students to engage with such themes as literary experimentation, reason, sensibility and sexuality, class, personal identity, science and medicine, slavery and emancipation, and to access a range of forms from travel narrative to parody. Rather than tracing a passage through a succession of canonical “greats”, the course will address (and question the separation between) “high” and “low” forms of narrative fiction, introducing students to historical and modern critical debates. The unit raises important questions about the origins of the novel; the evolution and popularity of literary genres in relation to their social and intellectual contexts; the relationship of the novel to other forms of writing (romance, newspapers, letters, or political pamphlets); the impact of literacy; and the significance of the gender of both authors and readers.

The aims of the unit are for students to develop a sophisticated, critically reflective understanding of these phenomena, based on research and study including digital archives and other online resources; and to enhance skills of analysis and communication.

Students will practise their close reading skills in small groups, and will work together on a group presentation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of a range of narrative prose works written during the long eighteenth century;
  2. articulate in-depth knowledge and evaluations of some of the critical approaches that have been taken to the novel in this period;
  3. contextualise primary texts within their literary, historical, and cultural contexts;
  4. identify and critically assess pertinent evidence to develop a cogent argument fiction;
  5. demonstrate levels of argumentation, close textual analysis, and critical interpretation appropriate to level H/6 using evidence from primary texts and secondary sources.

Teaching Information

1 x 1 hour seminar

1 x 1 hour lecture

1 x 1 hour discussion/workshop

Assessment Information

1 x 2000 word essay based on research derived from special collections and/or online databases. 33% (ILOs 1-5)

1 x summative one-week timed coursework 67% (ILOs 1-5.)

Reading and References

Indicative texts:

Daniel Defoe, Roxana (1724)
Eliza Haywood, Fantomina (1725)
Henry Fielding, Tom Jones (1749)
Frances Burney, Evelina (1778)
Jane Austen, Persuasion (1818)
James Hogg, Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)