Monday, May 5, 2008

Course Outline

It is not universal, but there is a trend among British female novelists since the Second World War to write a triumphal story arc for their female protagonists. A mood of confidence and self-attainment distinguishes these novels within their historical period; re-invoking, perhaps, the Austenian genius. In this Course we will ask scholarly questions such as, are these women novelists re-writing the traditional masculine quest so that the heroine sets out to conquer limitations, external and internal? We will be focused in our study by a non-fiction book from a premier novelist - The Sovereignty of Good by Dame Iris Murdoch - to see what explanans may be discovered there. Murdoch’s use of “sovereignty” in the title is suggestive of the actual Sovereign who has given Britain matriarchal regnancy for most of the years since 1945; surely not without influence, it has been mooted, on novelists of the magnitude of those on our course reading list. Our study, naturally, will be entirely literary, as will its methods, its scope and - interestingly and memorably - its conclusions.


Gibbons, Stella Cold Comfort Farm Penguin
Spark, Muriel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Penguin
Galloway, Janice The Trick is to Keep Breathing Mandarin
Fielding, Helen Bridget Jones' Diary Penguin
Ali, Monica Brick Lane Scribner
Maitland, Sara On Becoming a Fairy Godmother Maia

(Strongly) Recommended Texts:

Murdoch, Iris The Sovereignty of Good Routledge
Hornby, Nick High Fidelity Riverhead


15% Class participation
10% Class presentation
20% Two group polemical projects
20% Mid-term paper (approx. 2000 words)
35% Final paper (approx. 3000 words)

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