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.
Dive into some of the richest and most fascinating novels of the nineteenth-century! This course will explore the purpose of the novel through three excellent representatives.
Total number of class meetings: 12
Duration of each class: 55 minutes.
Prerequisite: Willingness to read and openness to enjoying the works. Read Volume 1 of Mansfield Park (Chapters. 1-18) before Class 1.
Suggested Grade Level: 9th to 12th grade
Suggested Credit: One full semester Literature or Victorian Literature
This course will explore the purpose of the novel through three excellent representatives. Beginning with Jane Austen’s exquisite anti-romance Mansfield Park, we will survey its literary, social, and historical context as well as take time to enjoy the brilliance of “the last great representative of the classical tradition of virtues” (according to philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre). From this promising beginning, we will plunge into the Victorian period with Charles Dickens’ darkly colorful Oliver Twist and Elizabeth Gaskell’s quietly challenging romance North and South. Through all three works, we will delve into the purpose of the novel and its utilization as an intimate portrait of human life, as a vehicle for social critique, and as the public stage on which the questions of sin, love, violence, and redemption are played out. 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; Mansfield Park (1814), Vol. I (through Ch. 12). (Without Volume Divisions: Ch. 1-12.)
Week 2: Mansfield Park, Vol. I (Chs. 12-18) and Vol. II (through Ch. 3). (Without Volume Divisions: Ch. 13-21.)
Week 3: Mansfield Park, Vol. II (to its conclusion). (Without Volume Divisions: Chapters 22-31.)
Week 4: Mansfield Park, Vol. III. (Without Volume Divisions: Chapters 32-48.)
Week 5: Oliver Twist (1837-9), Chs. 1-12.
Week 6: Oliver Twist, Chs. 13-24.
Week 7: Oliver Twist, Chs. 25-39.
Week 8: Oliver Twist, Chs. 40-53.
Week 9: North and South (1855), Vol. I, Chs. 1-12.
Week 10: North and South, Vol. I, Chs. 13-25.
Week 11: North and South, Vol. II, Chs. 1-14
Week 12: North and South, Vol. II, Chs. 15-27; Review and Conclusion.
Penguin, Oxford or Dover editions recommended; other editions accepted
Homework: Expect to spend about three hours reading each week, 12 identification quizzes (one per week); three review quizzes; final quiz. This course relies heavily upon in-class participation. A literary-critical writing project opportunity is available for extra credit.