04:30 PM to 07:10 PM M
Enterprise Hall 277
Section Information for Fall 2022
In this course we will explore that slippery form of omniscient narration commonly known as free indirect discourse, in which a narrator of a novel, in Wayne Booth’s words, moves “in and out of minds with great freedom, choosing…what to reveal and what to withhold.” Writing at the start of the nineteenth century, Jane Austen was one of the first and most successful novelists to exploit the “sourceless anonymity” of omniscient narration. Austen’s narrators are not as obtrusive as George Eliot’s, some fifty years later (“For my part I am very sorry for him,” writes the narrator of Middlemarch about one of that novel’s most unlikable characters). But both novelists deploy what narrative theorist Daniel Gunn calls a “containing subjectivity”: a consciousness (not a character) that explicitly or implicitly shapes our perceptions and evaluations. Beginning with Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and ending with Eliot’s Middlemarch, we will close-read some short and some long novels, focusing on how each showcases this narrative technique—how free indirect style works within each novel to help shape our understanding of character, motivation, and even social and political context.
Requirements may include one short and one longer, seminar-style paper, participation in online discussion forums, and a group presentation.