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Semester 2 - Dual-Delivery
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This subject examines domestic realist fiction as a genre and cultural institution, from Jane Austen’s early nineteenth century country-house novel to the contemporary graphic novel. It provides an introduction to narratology, the critical framework for the study of narrative fiction. Considering the theory of the novel that emerged with its practice, we ask: how has the genre been transformed within the fictions themselves and through this theory and critical reception? Key topics include: the family romance and its drama of insiders and outsiders; courtship, marriage and property plots; psychological interiority; and the symbolic lives of domestic interiors. Traditionally associated with the eighteenth-century “rise” of the novel that consecrated the bourgeois marriage plot and the “omniscient” narrator, realist fiction is now the site of queer re-imaginings of intimacy and the family; critical questioning of realism’s long association with objectivity and reportage; enquiry into the theology-pathology of the detail; and a new emphasis on nonnarrative or affective features. Harnessing the tension between realist enchantment and ordinariness, we examine realism’s transfiguration of the commonplace. We also examine the conjugal imperative of the marriage plot and modes of un-conjugality. In these ways, we consider realism and its enchantments as well as its discontents; realism’s rise and fall and transformation through what Fredric Jameson refers to as “the tide of affect” that sweeps over the late nineteenth-century novel; and the futures-past of a genre that increasingly powers domesticity with the strange and unfamiliar.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- to have developed a detailed knowledge of the contexts of production and reception of key realist texts in a range of historical and geographical settings;
- to have gained a first-hand acquaintance with key examples of global domestic realist fiction in English from the early nineteenth- to the early twenty-first centuries;
- to have acquired a familiarity with a range of literary-critical, cultural-historical and theoretical approaches to realist fiction.
- to be able to utilise an introductory understanding of the key critical vocabularies for the discussion of novelistic form;
At the completion of this subject, students should acquire the following generic skills:
- research: through competent use of library, and other (including online) information sources; through the successful definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research;
- critical thinking and analysis: through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the questioning of accepted wisdom and the ability to shape and strengthen persuasive judgments and arguments; through attention to detail in reading material; and through openness to new ideas and the development of critical self-awareness;
- theoretical thinking: through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through a productive engagement with relevant methodologies and paradigms in literary studies and the broader humanities;
- creative thinking: through essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the innovative conceptualising of problems and an appreciation of the role of creativity in critical analysis;
- social, ethical and cultural understanding: through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the social contextualization of arguments and judgments; through adaptations of knowledge to new situations and openness to new ideas; through the development of critical self-awareness in relation to an understanding of other cultures and practices.
- intelligent and effective communication of knowledge and ideas: through essay preparation, planning and writing as well as tutorial discussion. through effective dissemination of ideas from recommended reading and other relevant information sources. through clear definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research. through confidence to express ideas in public forums;
- time management and planning: through the successful organization of workloads; through disciplined self-direction and the ability to meet deadlines.
Last updated: 26 November 2022