So today is my last tutorial before the looming deadline of my EMA (End of Module Assignment). I have until the 14th of May to churn out the most insightful, well written critique of the nineteenth-century novel… and I haven’t even picked my question yet.
Typically when we’re talking about an upcoming assignment, my tutor will go round the room and ask which we’re going too. I’m usually the one that has to blag an answer because I haven’t even cracked open the assignment booklet yet. This time, however, I want to be prepared…. These are my choices:
– Nineteenth-century literary realism does not supersede other, earlier modes such as the romance, the Gothic novel or the fairy-tale; it incorporates them. Examine the ways in which your chosen novels adapt older genres and literary forms.
– Family life experienced new social pressures and became the site of new ideals and anxieties in the nineteenth century. Explore the representations of family life in your chosen novels.
– ‘[in Heart of Darkness] Marlow’s narrative methods place considerable demands on his listeners/readers, obliging us to re-examine literary conventions, not just of adventure fiction but of realism itself, and to take an active part in constructing the text’s meanings’. Examine different narrative techniques, paying close attention to the demands they make upon readers, in your chosen novels.
– Reference two to three novels studied over the course of the module. One of these bust be Dracula, The Awakening or Heart of Darkness.
– Engage with at least two critical perspectives drawn from the Critical Reader.
My first reaction is that I hate question three, so let’s take that off the table.
Question one could be interesting… If I picked this one I think I’d choose Dracula for my obligatory novel, and then incorporate some Jane Eyre and Northanger Abbey. I think this one would be really easy to structure. Starting with a definition of realism and then exploring the genres mentioned (romance, Gothic, fairy-tale) and how these relate to Dracula and Jane Eyre. I would then discuss the literal incorporation of earlier genres in the plot of a novel (using Catherine’s obsession with Gothic romance in Northanger Abbey as an example).
Question two is another one I might quite enjoy writing. With this one I’d focus on Dombey and Son, Dracula and The Awakening. There’s so much I could write about here… the parent/child conflicts in Dombey and Son, the surrogate relationships in Dombey and Dracula, the Freudian nightmare of Dracula, the redefining of the wife and mother in The Awakening… it’s another great question!
To be honest I’m pretty undecided at the moment, but at least I’ve had a bit of a think about it… So which would you pick if you were me?