Introduction to Fiction

L204 — Fall 2018

Jesse Molesworth
Ballantine Hall 015
Days and Times
9:30A-10:45A TR
Course Description

Topic: "Big Books"

This course offers a slow, unhurried reading of three very long novels: Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749), George Eliot's Middlemarch (1871-72), and Stephen King's It (1986). Our central question is: what is gained from excessive length? What can be accomplished within the form of a long novel that cannot be accomplished in the form of a short 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 three works drawn from three different centuries, we will also spend much time discussing the historical development of the novel. Topics will include the novel's relationship with epic, the rise of realism, and the emergence of the Gothic novel and horror fiction (be forewarned: Stephen King's novel is terrifying). If we have time near the end of the course, we'll apply the questions generated by reading long fictions to the analysis of a long film, such as The Godfather or Lawrence of Arabia.

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.

See complete course details