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The Novel (EAS1037)

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

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.
  • To 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 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, to 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 module work, to 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 module and essays, demonstrate basic proficiency in information retrieval and analysis

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction: 'The rise of the novel' and Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1): Historical and cultural contexts
  • Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (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
  • Samuel Selvon, The Lonely Londoners (text and context)
  • 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 activitiesScheduled learning and teaching11Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching16.51 hour 30 minute 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
Module 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
Module participationRepeat study or Mitigation1-7, 9Referral/Deferral period
Creative response Creative response1-6, 8-9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic 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, Robinson Crusoe.
  • Jane Austen, Persuasion.
  • Dickens, Charles, Great Expectations.
  • Woolf, Virginia, The Waves.
  • Samuel Salvon, The Lonely Londoners.

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


Key words search

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