Gustave Courbet, Jo, La Belle Irlandaise, 1865-66

Realism

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: Emma, Madame Bovary, The House of Mirth, and Remainder. Critical texts: Lukács, Hegel, Barthes, Watt, Auerbach, Zola.

Course Schedule

Wednesday, 6:30-9:30pm
January 04 — November 28, 2012
4 weeks