ENGL 358 (3 cr): Studies in an 18th Century Genre: The English Novel

ENGL 358

Mode of Delivery

This is a print-based, correspondence course.

Course Outline

  • Four assignments
  • Final examination

Course Description and Prerequisites

English 358 examines the beginnings of the realistic novel and its development from Defoe to Jane Austen.

The prerequisites are six credits in first year English, or Arts One, or Foundations, and third-year standing.

Intended Student

The course assumes only that you have read and studied at least one or two novels, of whatever date, and are familiar with the elements of prose fiction: style, theme, characterization, plot and point of view. The course also assumes that you have written at least one essay on a novel, although the advice contained in the course manual on essay writing, along with the commentary on the individual works, should enable you to deal with the suggested topics.

Course Overview

The correspondence version of English 358 is a study of the early masters of English fiction. We are equally concerned with the basis of lasting literary appeal in specific writers and texts, with the origins of the twentieth century’s most popular literary form, and with the early novels as representations of eighteenth-century life.

The first two lessons orient you to the way in which we will approach the set texts and provide you with some historical background to and chronology of these books.

Lessons 3 to 8 examine various aspects of each assigned text and its author and their contributions to the development of the new literary form known as the novel.

Interspersed among the lessons are sections under the general title “Perspectives on the (Early) Novel.” In these we consider several topics, including: “formal realism” as presented in Ian Watt’s classic study, The Rise of the Novel; the relationship of the novel to seventeenth-century romances and to the prototypical anti-romance, Don Quixote; the “Augustan” or high culture expectations of what literature should be and do; women novelists in this period and the representations of gender roles in the texts by both men and women writers; and literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin’s distinctive way of understanding novels.


The course grade for English 358 will be made up as follows:

Two Essays (1,000-1,500 words each) @15 marks each 30
One close reading exercise 10
One Term Paper (2,000-3,000 words) 25
Final Exam 35
Total 100

Textbooks and Course Materials ENGL358 Textbook Order Form

  1. Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey. Penguin.
  2. Fanny Burney. Evelina. Oxford.
  3. Daniel Defoe. Moll Flanders. Riverside.
  4. Henry Fielding. Tom Jones. Norton.
  5. Samuel Johnson. Rasselas. Penguin.
  6. Samuel Richardson. Clarissa (Abridged). Riverside.
  7. Laurence Sterne. Tristram Shandy. Riverside.
  8. MLA Handbook. 7th ed. Modern Language Association.

In addition, there are two required general reference texts:

  1. David Lodge. The Art of Fiction. Penguin.
  2. Roy Porter. English Society in the Eighteenth Century. Penguin.

Also required is:

  • ENGL 358 Learner Package – which includes the course manual.

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