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ENGL 7670: The Eighteenth-Century Novel
Spring 2008

Dr. Paula R. Backscheider
9082 Haley Center
(334) 844-9091
Office Hours: Monday, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. or by appointment


This seminar will focus on aspects of eighteenth-century prose fiction that have attracted considerable recent critical attention and revision. We will begin with the much-praised travel-adventure novel that has never lost popularity and the much-maligned romance that has evolved into our mass-market Harlequin and Silhouette fiction. After that we will explore the time of the great canonical novelists, Richardson and Fielding, and what is coming to be seen as a time of rich experimentation and no-holds-barred competition among forms for control of readers' minds rather than an inevitable movement toward realism. Along with this inquiry, we will look at new ways to contextualize individual texts. Seminar members will become experts on different forms and represent various critics' perspectives.

Representative novels: Five Love Letters from a Nun to a Cavalier, Love Intrigues, An Historical Relation of Ceylon, Robinson Crusoe (or Farther Adventures), and Tom Jones.

Requirements: Active participation and discussion; various short, oral reports; an annotated bibliography; a book review; and a seminar paper.

Required Texts:

  • Popular Fiction by Women, ed. Paula Backscheider and John Richetti (Oxford 1997). ISBN 0198711379
  • The Galesia Trilogy and Selected Manuscript Poems of Jane Barker, ed. Carol Shiner Wilson (Oxford 1997). ISBN 0195086511
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, 2nd edition (Norton 1993). ISBN 0393964523
  • Pamela by Samuel Richardson (Oxford World Classics 2001). ISBN 0192829602
  • Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (Houghton Mifflin, 1962). ISBN 0395051649
  • Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, 2nd edition (Norton 1994). ISBN 9780393965940
  • The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless by Eliza Haywood (Broadview, 1998). ISBN 1551111470
  • The Dialogic Imagination by Mikhail Bakhtin (University of Texas Press 1982). ISBN 029271534X
  • Loving With a Vengeance by Tania Modleski 2nd edition (Routledge 2007). ISBN 0415974518


Jan. 9: Introduction; Five Love Letters from a Nun to a Cavalier* and Eliza Haywood, The British Recluse+.

16: Aphra Behn, The History of the Nun+ and Love Letters between a Nobleman and his Sister, pt. 1*; John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel*; and Haywood, The City Jilt*.

23: Jane Barker, Love Intrigues+; Haywood, Fantomina+; and Penelope Aubin, The Life and Adventures of the Lady Lucy (in ECCO; use 1726 edition), pp. 26-43 and 66-68.

30: Jane Barker, The Lining of the Patchwork Screen in The Galesia Trilogy, and Samuel Richardson, Pamela, to Letter xxxii, p. 98. Book reports.

Feb. 6: Fredric Jameson, "Metacommentary"*; Susan Lanser, "Toward a Feminist Poetics of Narrative Voice"* in Fictions of Authority; Christopher Flint, "The Eighteenth-Century Novel and Print Culture: A Proposed Modesty" in The Blackwell Companion to the Novel and Culture* ; Paula Backscheider, "The Novel's Gendered Space"* in Revising Women; Homi Bhabha, "The Postcolonial and the Postmodern: The Question of Agency"* in The Cultural Studies Reader, ed. Simon During.

13: Richardson, Pamela to "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday" on p. 142, and Modleski, Loving with a Vengeance, Introduction, chapters 1 and 2.

20: Penelope Aubin, The Strange Adventures of Count de Vinevil and his Family+. and Robert Knox, An Historial Relation of Ceylon*. Reports on criticism.

27: Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe.

Mar. 5: Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, essays 2 and 4, and "A Mother's Fury”*.

Mar. 12: Samuel Richardson, Clarissa.

26: Clarissa. Progress report on author including annotated bibliography.

April 2: Henry Fielding, Tom Jones.

9: Reading week.

16: Tom Jones. Progress report on author.

23: Haywood, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless.

RESEARCH REPORTS: 9-12 Thursday, May 1. Papers due at 5:00 p.m. May 2.

* On Blackboard.
+ In Backscheider and Richetti, eds. Popular Fiction before Richardson, 1660-1730: An Anthology.