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87100 Syllabus
David Richter
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English 87100

The Rise of the Novel

Professor David Richter

Spring 2011

Monday, 4:15 to 6:15


During the "long eighteenth century" (1660-1830), most of the major innovations in both subject matter and narrative technique take shape. At its beginning the art of fiction often involves the close imitation of true narratives, while at its end fictional narrative both competes with and contributes to the writing of historical narrative. Throughout the period, form (in the sense of aesthetic ideology) exerts intense pressure upon content, while content (the social and sexual conflicts of the period, along with the growing force of nationality) exerts a counterpressure upon literary form. We shall read some of these most important canonical texts within and against the culture that formed them, a culture that took its own shape, at least in part, from the rise of the novel. In addition to exploring the narratives of the eighteenth century, we will also explore another set of narratives, the works of literary history in which scholars from the past fifty years have attempted to explain the origins of the English novel. Ian Watt's The Rise of the Novel (1957) was the master narrative against which recent literary historiographers have staged their own histories, including Michael McKeon, Ralph Rader, Lennard Davis, Catherine Gallagher, Nancy Armstrong, and Margaret Doody. We shall also be examining essays from The Rise of the Novel Revisited, the special issue of Eighteenth-Century Fiction published last year.


For information about the editions ordered, please click HERE

Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave, 1688.

Eliza Haywood: Love in Excess, 1719

Daniel Defoe, The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders, etc., 1722.

Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded, 1740.

Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews, 1742.

Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent., 1760-67.

Frances Burney, Evelina, or The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World, 1777.

William Godwin, Things as They Are, or Caleb Williams, 1794.

Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent, 1800.

Walter Scott, Waverley or 'Tis Sixty Years Since, 1814.

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1815.

The Mystery Novel: One additional novel, either Smollett's Humphry Clinker or a gothic like Radcliffe's Romance of the Forest, will be added at the organizational meeting, and I think we'll be able to find the books without too much trouble, since we will have another eight or more weeks before it comes up.


For specific information about chapters assigned or recommended, please click HERE

For a more elaborate bibliography on the particular novels we will be studying click HERE


Ian Watt: The Rise of the Novel (1957)

Michael McKeon: The Origin of the English Novel (1987)

Ralph Rader: "Defoe, Richardson, Joyce, and the Concept of Form in the Novel" (1974) and "The Emergence of the Novel in England: Genre in History vs. History of Genre" (1993) and following dialogue with Michael McKeon.

Lennard J. Davis Factual Fictions: The Origins of the English Novel. 1983.

Nancy Armstrong: Desire and Domestic Fiction (1987).

Janet Todd: The Sign of Angellica: Women, Writing and Fiction 1660-1800 (1989)

J. Paul Hunter: Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction (1990)

Catherine Gallagher: Nobody's Story: The Vanishing Acts of Women Writers in the Marketplace 1670-1820 (1995; or the MLA paper that was originary essay of this book).

Homer Obed Brown: Institutions of the English Novel. (1997)

Margaret Doody: The True Story of the Novel (1997).

William Beatty Warner: Licensing Entertainment: The Elevation of Novel Reading 1687-1750 (1998).

Laura Brown: Fables of Modernity (2001).

Lisa Freeman: "Allegories in and of Narrative," MLA 2001 Paper.

In addition we shall be reading essays taken from Reconsidering The Rise of the Novel, the Winter 2000 special issue of Eighteenth-Century Fiction.


For the class schedule, including who is scheduled for oral reports on which dates, please click HERE.


Oral report and term paper for 4-credit students, just oral report together with wonderful attendance and participation for 2-credit students.


My office is in 4105, phone there is 817-8330. I'll also be in on Fridays and can make it in on other days except Wednesdays, when I will be at Queens College. My Queens College phone is 718-997-4684. I also have a listed home phone if you need to get in touch with me. My home email address is


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