“Realism” | The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research


(Tuesdays, 7-9pm, July 24, 2012)
at Building on Bond 

Enrollment is capped at 12 and will include some of the texts!

What is realism? Why and how does a literary text aspire to the status of “the real”? In this class, we will examine realism as historically-specific mode, as subject matter, and as a set of transhistorical formal techniques. Through readings of French, British, and American novels, we will think through the problems of making “life” appear on the page. Secondary critical texts will frame the debate over the meaning and value of realism, both historically and for readers today. Although the course will focus on the 19th century novel, we will conclude with a contemporary work that revolves around these very questions. Novels: EmmaMadame BovaryThe House of Mirth, and Remainder. Critical texts: Lukács, Hegel, Barthes, Watt, Auerbach, Zola.

* Note: This class will require between 150-300 pages of novel-reading per week, as well as 20-25 pages of secondary reading.

6 Sessions over 6 Weeks

Instructor: Christine Smallwood

Christine Smallwood is a doctoral candidate in the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where she is writing a dissertation on narrative non-development in the English novel. She holds an M.Phil and an M.A. in English from Columbia and a B.A. in English and Art History from Swarthmore College. Her research interests include 19th and 20th century British and American literature, theory of the novel, and the history of American cultural criticism. Her essays and reviews have been published in The Baffler, Bookforum, Criterion Collection, Harper’s, the London Review of Booksn+1, The NationThe New York Review of Books, The Paris Review Daily, and other publications. She is also a contributing editor for Triple Canopy. You can follow her on Twitter @xtinesmallwood.

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