The course will focus on novels whose distinctive quality is their setting in a different, mostly past era. Readings will include a selection from the following group of texts: John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, George Orwell’s 1984, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, Meša Selimović’s Death and the Dervish (one of the very few European novels engaging the Quran on a number of levels), Imre Kertesz’s Kadish for a Child Not Born, Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Bohumil Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude, and Danilo Kis’s The Tomb for Boris Davidovich, a collection of stories which we will look at in a dialogue with the novels of this course. We will examine how and why these novels choose a non-contemporary setting, and what they achieve by invoking the ancient, late premodern, Victorian, early twentieth-century, or relatively recent historical periods (such as the World War II or the 1960s), or else by creating a dystopian image of future. While the course engages with some major theories of the novel (e.g., by Frye or Bakhtin, from McKeon’s edited volume), it will chiefly be centered on an in-depth study of the literary works.
Study of the novel as a genre, examining two or more novels of varying national literatures. Course content varies.