This is our catalog of courses. We will occasionally adjust the course listing to reflect the addition of new courses and the retirement of others. 

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Studies of the Novel: The Nineteenth Century

Register for this course and dive into some of the richest and most fascinating novels of the nineteenth century! Together, we’ll study the historical and social context of each book as well as the shared themes. Books covered will be Emma by Jane Austen, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, and The Warden & Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope

Total classes: 12

Prerequisite: Willingness to read and openness to enjoying the works. Read Volume 1 of Emma before Class 1.

Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade

Suggested credit: 1 Semester of Literature or Victorian Literature.


What is the purpose of the genre of the novel? Why should we read it? How should we read it? This course will answer this question by exploring three of the greatest representatives of a singularly wonderful period of the English novel: the Nineteenth Century. We will establish ourselves with the brilliance of Jane Austen and her creation of Emma, a “heroine whom no one but myself will much like”. Charles Dickens will serve as our escort into the world of the Victorians through David Copperfield and its eponymous hero, whom Dickens described as his “favourite child”. From Dickens we will turn to his witty and prolific contemporary, Anthony Trollope, and explore the complexities of British Victorian religious belief and social structures in the mid-century. For each novel, we will both study its literary, social, and historical context and conduct close readings of the text. Jointly, the novels will permit us to explore the shared themes that define the genre and the period. In addition to cultivating artistic appreciation and a love of reading, this class facilitates the development of the literary-critical skillset, the disciplined use of the imagination, and a strong knowledge of historical and literary context.


Week 1: Introduction; Emma (1815/1816), Volume I, Chapters 1-12.

Week 2: Emma, Volume I, Chapters 13-18 and Volume II, Chapters 1-5. (Without Volume Divisions, Chapters 13-23.)

Week 3: Emma, Volume II, Chapters 6-18. (Without Volume Divisions, 24-36.)

Week 4: Emma, Volume III. (Without Volume Divisions, 37-55.)

Week 5: David Copperfield (1849-50), Chs. 1-15.

Week 6: David Copperfield, Chs. 16-31.

Week 7: David Copperfield, Chs. 32-45.

Week 8: David Copperfield, Chs. 46-64.

Week 9: The Warden (1855).

Week 10: Barchester Towers (1857), Chs. 1-18.

Week 11: Barchester Towers, Chs. 19-36.

Week 12: Barchester Towers, Chs. 37-53.

Materials and Homework

Course Materials: (Penguin, Oxford, or Dover editions recommended; other editions accepted)

· Emma by Jane Austen

· David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

· The Warden & Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope

Homework: 3 hours reading per week, 1 identification quiz per week; miscellaneous small assignments. A literary-critical writing project opportunity is available for extra credit.

Important Dates

Class dates: Thursdays, September 5 to December 5, 2024 (No class Oct. 31 or Nov. 28)

Starting time: 2:30 PM Eastern (1:30 Central, 12:30 Mountain, 11:30 Pacific)

Duration per class: 55 minutes.

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