Spring 2005

HUMS 645
George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and the Making of the Modern

Burt,Daniel S.

01/24/2005 - 05/07/2005
Thursday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Fisk Hall 115

There is perhaps no better pairing of English novelists to demonstrate the opposite approaches that define key boundaries of modern fiction than George Eliot and Thomas Hardy. Despite similar backgrounds in rural England and a shared skepticism of the absolutes of Victorian beliefs, each revolutionized the novel as a serious instrument of truth telling from contrary assumptions. George Eliot extended the novel's realism, replacing fiction's idealizations and falsifications with a clarity that produced a "natural history of our social classes," dramatizing the complex relationship among environment, the individual, and society. For Hardy, "realism was not art," and his novels, suffused with the extraordinary, attempt to find truth through intensification and universal significance beneath the surface of experience. Both writers draw remarkably similar conclusions from their different approaches to life and art, exploring the contours of our modern world in some of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. This course will present both writers in the context of their biographies, culture, and literary history.

We will concentrate, in the case of Eliot, on MIDDLEMARCH, her masterpiece, which Virginia Woolf called "one of the few English novels written for adult people." For Hardy, we will consider his greatest achievements, THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE, TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES, and JUDE THE OSCURE.

Assignments will include passage analysis, facilitation of group discussion, and a critical examination of significant aspects of the writers? ideas and techniques.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Daniel Burt (B.A. Colgate University; M.A., Ph.D. New York University) is author of The Chronology of American History, The Biography Book, and a three-volume critical guide to historical fiction. He has written extensively about Yeats, Joyce, and Beckett in The Literary 100 and The Novel 100, and on Shaw, Synge, O'Casey, and Friel in the forthcoming Drama 100.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
George Eliot, MIDDLEMARCH (W.W. Norton), Paperback

Thomas Hardy, THE MASTER OF CASTERBRIDGE (W.W. Norton), Paperback

Thomas Hardy, TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES (W.W. Norton), Paperback

Thomas Hardy, JUDE THE OBSCURE (W.W. Norton), Paperback


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