ENGL 334 A: English Novel: Later Nineteenth Century

Meeting Time: 
MW 4:30pm - 6:20pm
MOR 221
Joseph Butwin
Joseph Butwin

Syllabus Description:

English 334  Spring 2018  Professor Butwin

                                            English Novel: Later 19th Century: The Dark Side

Consider the famous pair of texts by Charles Darwin—The Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871)—as a prologue to the “Later 19th Century” that gives this course its generic name. While “descent” may suggest “origin” (as we are the descendants of our original ancestors) it may also suggest…decline. The sunny optimism that would willingly turn “descent” into “ascent” and describe the long 19th century as a march of progress has as its corollary a dim vision of regress, decline or, to use a favorite imprecation of the 1890s, degeneration. Many of the signature texts of the final decade of the 19th century reverse the famous cult of “a Century of Progress” (think of Empire, Industry, Civilization) and describe a dark alternative to all that optimism, a Hyde to the period’s Jekyll, a withered portrait of a handsome young dandy, diabolical children, dystopian bestiality, what the poet laureate Tennyson may have meant, at midcentury, when he described the ancient Camelot gone sour, “reeling back into the beast.” We will read short novels by Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, and Arthur Conan Doyle—all in the affordable Dover Thrift Editions! (That’s the bright side.)


Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890, 1891)

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (1898)

  1. G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899, 1902)

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901, 1902)

Catalog Description: 
Examines the high water mark of the realist novel, as well as its fragmentation into popular genres like science and detective fiction and the emergence of literary modernism. Possible authors include: George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Robert Louis Stevenson, Marie Corelli, Olive Schreiner, H.G. Wells, and Joseph Conrad.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 10:10pm