Section 1: Wednesday 6:30-9:10 PM

Professor: Patrick Collier

This seminar on the novel will pursue two questions, one literary-historical and one theoretical: 1) What has become of the “English novel” in an age of postmodern and postcolonial challenges to the idea of a literary tradition, and 2) what theoretical models of the functioning of narrative are best-equipped to deal with the twists and turns the novel has taken over the last century or so? Together, we will read five ambitious, large-scale novels alongside classic and contemporary narrative theory. In small groups, you will team-teach to the rest of the class a set of literary-historical accounts of the development of the novel in English from “realist” to “modern” to postmodern and postcolonial. Individually, you will complete research projects that engage with vital questions in the analysis of narrative and/or the development of the Anglophone novel.

Successful students in this class will:

  • develop an advanced critical vocabulary for analyzing fiction;
  • become conversant in the major themes and controversies of narrative theory, including questions of structure, ideology, voice, temporality, and reader response;
  • articulate an understanding of developments in the novel in English over the last century;
  • grow in critical responsiveness to fiction and ability to articulate critical and theoretical insights.


Eliot, Middlemarch
Joyce, Ulysses
Lessing, The Golden Notebook
Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
Smith, White Teeth
Genette, Narrative Discourse