Introduction to Fiction

L204 — Fall 2021

Jesse Molesworth
Days and Times
1:10p - 2:25p MW
Course Description

Topic:Big Books

This course offers a slow, unhurried reading of two very long novels: Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749) and George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871-72). We will take each novel part by part, book by book, and even page by page, examining form, content, and overall theme. Our central question is: what is gained from excessive length? What can be accomplished within the span of a long novel that cannot be accomplished in the form of a shorter novel?

Since this course is intended to offer an introduction to the study of fiction, we will spend much time discussing the fundamental formal features of fiction, including point of view, plot, characterization, description, setting, and style. Since we will be reading novels drawn from different centuries, we will also spend much time discussing the historical development of the novel, from its origins to the present. Topics will include the novel’s relationship with the epic tradition, narrative techniques like omniscience and the free indirect style, the rise of realism, the ethics of the novel, and the relationship between form and meaning.

Assignments will include 3 medium-length essays (one of which will be revised), short in-class writing assignments, and regular class attendance and participation.

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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