The Novel (EAS1037)

StaffDr Abram Foley - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to introduce students to an exciting range of novels representative of diverse narrative styles drawn from different historical periods and national contexts. The module covers the development of this important genre from the birth of the novel in eighteenth-century England through the nineteenth-century and modernist periods into the present day. It draws on examples from English, American and post-colonial cultures and thus provides an invaluable foundation for future study in a number of literary fields. The module will address the emergence and reception of the novel in relation to its historical and literary contexts and to its adoption, and adaptation, of particular voices and forms. Close readings of five chosen novels will be supplemented by theoretical and critical analysis. Stylistic changes - such as the move from nineteenth-century realist fiction to modernist experimentation - will be explored alongside specific texts which illuminate the impact of cultural change on fictional form. In looking at a variety of examples of prose fiction, the module will examine the pleasures of the novel, as well as the historical conditions and textual strategies which underpin those pleasures.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate a basic understanding of how the novel has emerged and developed across a range of different periods and cultural contexts.
  • 2. demonstrate a basic understanding of structural, formal and technical elements of the novel.
  • 3. demonstrate a basic ability to discuss how literary form both generates meaning and relates to its historical and cultural contexts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. demonstrate a basic ability to analyse the literature of an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context.
  • 5. demonstrate a basic ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history.
  • 6. demonstrate a basic ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. through seminar work, demonstrate basic communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups.
  • 8. through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a basic capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose.
  • 9. through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate basic proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.

Syllabus plan

The syllabus plan should not be provided on a week-by-week basis unless the delivery pattern can be guaranteed

Introduction: 'The rise of the novel' and Daniel Defoe, Roxana (1): Historical and cultural contexts

Daniel Defoe, Roxana (2): Text

Jane Austen, Persuasion (1): Historical and cultural contexts

Jane Austen, Persuasion (2): Text

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1): Historical and cultural contexts

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (2): Text

Virginia Woolf, The Waves (1): Historical and cultural contexts

Virginia Woolf, The Waves (2): Text

David Dabydeen, A Harlot’s Progress: Context

David Dabydeen, A Harlot’s Progress: Text

The Future of the Novel: Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities11Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities16.51. 5 hour Weekly seminar
Guided independent study22study group meetings and preparation
Guided Independent study46seminar preparation (individual)
Guided Independent study54.5reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group Presentation30 minutes1-7, 9Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar participation10Continuous1-7, 9Oral feedback from tutor and opportunity for office hours follow-up
Creative response: literary transposition (300 words) and commentary (1200 words)901500 words1-6, 8-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Seminar participationRepeat study or mitigation1-7, 9Referral/deferral period
Creative response Creative response1-6, 8-9Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading:

In addition to the texts listed below, further core reading will be made available on the Exeter Learning Environment

Core texts (any modern edition):

Bechdel, Alison, Fun Home Dabydeen, David, A Harlot’s Progress

Defoe, Daniel, Roxana

Jane Austen, Persuasion

Dickens, Charles, Great Expectations

Woolf, Virginia, The Waves

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Secondary Reading:

Booth, Wayne, The Rhetoric of Fiction, rev. ed. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1983.

Lanser, Susan Snaider, Fictions of Authority: Women Writers and Narrative Voice, Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1992.

Watts, Ian. The Rise of the Novel, London: Pimlico, 2000.

Wood, James, How Fiction Works, London: Vintage, 2009.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date

June 2013

Key words search

Novel; graphic novel; realism, modernism; postmodern; postcolonial