Middlemarch For the 21st Century
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Course Number: NLIT 2300
Course Format: Lecture
Permission Required: No
Having passed the test of time, Middlemarch has become not simply a 19th century novel, but a novel for the ages. A masterpiece that has been described as a treasure house of detail, one of the few English novels written for grown-up people, and the greatest novel in the English language, Middlemarch is also a novel that is both exemplary of Victorian realism and anticipates the psychological innerness associated with today's fiction. This course will be devoted to an examination of Eliot's in-depth depiction of an English midlands town called Middlemarch in the midst of social, political, religious and economic transformations. We will explore the variety of plots and a diverse ensemble cast in a novel that ranges from comedy to tragedy to romance to political and social commentary, with special emphasis on its two great souls, an idealistic medical man and an exceptional young woman of mind. We will also examine the wise and compassionate voice of George Eliot herself as it emerges in the narrative and as she and her characters engage the mission of modernity: that even if there will be losses as well as gains, it is possible to move forward to a better world. Reading: George Eliot, Middlemarch, Norton Critical Edition.