All 17 entries tagged Seminar Prep

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March 04, 2013

Week 10 seminar questions

Questions for the week 10 seminar:

  • James was born in America, spending much of his life in England and Europe. In what ways might The Spoils of Poynton be considered an "English" novel? What themes, ideas and symbols resonate with other texts we've read?
  • "Only a short time ago it might have been supposed that the English novel was not what the French call discutable. It had no air of having a theory, a conviction, a consciousness of itself behind it-of being the expression of an artistic faith, the result of choice and comparison." (James, "The Art of Fiction"). What do you make of James's statement about the novel, both in terms of the 19th century novel more widely, and with regards to the narrative technique of Spoils?
  • The Spoils of Poynton was originally published in serial form as The Old Things, and the first title James thought of was The House Beautiful. What do these various titles suggest about the value of art and objects in the novel?

You might also find Henry James's essay The Art of Fiction useful reading

February 25, 2013

Week 9 seminar questions

Questions to prepare for the seminar on Jude the Obscure:

  • "You must either make a tool of the creature of a man of him" (Ruskin); "Culture has one great passion, the passion for sweetness and light. It has one even yet greater! - the passion for making them prevail. It is not satisfied till we all come to a perfect man; it knows that the sweetness and light of the few must be imperfect until the raw and unkindled masses of humanity are touched with sweetness and light" (Arnold); How does Jude respond to the ideas about culture set out by Ruskin and Arnold?
  • "I am not aware that there is anything in the handling to which exception can be taken"; why do you think Jude was shocking to contemporary readers? What remains shocking about it today?
  • Hardy addresses similar questions around marriage and the sexual double standard that we encountered in Tess of the D'urbervilles; what similarities and differences can you discern here?

February 13, 2013

Week 7 Questions

In preparation for the seminar on The Picture of Dorian Gray, think about:

  • What ideas about Art does the novel put forward? Think about the connections that can be drawn with Pater's aesthetic theory in particular. Is "all art quite useless" and why/not in the terms of Wilde's novel?
  • The relationship between art and life; where does morality fit within this? What issues about im/morality and art does the novel raise?
  • Wilde centres the representation of masculinity, masculine culture, and masculine sexuality as much more prominent themes than the novels studied thus far; why do you think this might be, and in what ways does the representation of masculinity differ from previous texts?

January 28, 2013

Week 5 questions


In preparation for the seminar in week 5 think about the following questions on the Ruskin, Arnold and Pater extracts, drawing out comparisons between each critic's handling of these ideas:

  • How is the concept of "art" or "culture" understood by each critic?
  • What is the relationship between "culture" and society?
  • What is the relationship between culture and religion?

January 27, 2013

Questions for week 4

Gwendolyn Harleth (BBC, 2002)

Apologies that these were not posted sooner this week - please take as a guide for what we'll be covering in tomorrow's seminars, but don't worry if you don't have time to prepare.

  • F.R. Leavis famously claimed that Daniel Deronda is a novel of two halves: a "bad" half in its story of Daniel, and a "great" novel in the story of Gwendolyn; meanwhile George Eliot stated that she "meant everything in the book to be related to everything else there". How do you interpret Leavis's statement? What is the relationship between the two narratives, and would Gwendolyn's story be "great" without Deronda's?
  • What ideas around nation, national community and national place does the novel raise?
  • Europe is prominent throughout Eliot's work and she travelled to the continent many times. What ideas around European community does the novel raise?

January 24, 2013

Extracts for week 5

The extracts for week 5 are now on the module homepage - see the right hand sidebar for a document labelled "Aesthetics extracts for unit 4".

Essay writing resources have been uploaded on the previous blog post, which you will need to be signed in to view.

January 14, 2013

Week 3 Questions

For The Moonstone seminar please think about the following questions:

  • The objectivity and stability of categories of understanding and perceiving the world: think about the questions of truth and rationality that the text raises, both through its narrative technique and the subject position of different narrators, as well as in the context of nation and empire.
  • The potential for chaos through global circulation: what issues around circulation and connection does the novel raise both in national and global contexts?
  • "The discovery of the truth" and "the finding of the diamond" are two separate parts in the novel, thereby emphasising issues of "truth" and "possession" as separate concerns. Think about how these concerns run parallel/ interrelate in the text, and what value is given to each.

January 08, 2013

Week 2 preparation on Bleak House


For the week 2 seminar on Bleak House I would like you to prepare by focusing on one minor character (or small set of characters) in the novel.

Think about:

  • why they are significant and what they contribute to the novel;
  • the thread of their narrative development throughout the novel, who they connect with, where they go etc;
  • how they relate to overarching themes we're looking at, particularly ideas around "nation and narration".

January 02, 2013

Week 1 Questions

Bleak House cover

We'll be starting the first seminar of the term with a recap of the novels studied so far and then thinking about how Bleak House fits into the emerging trajectory of "the English 19th century novel". In preparation for this I'd like you to think about the following:

  • What themes and ideas have been predominant throughout the novels studied? What picture of the 19th century have these built up?
  • What narrative techniques have we seen used - form, style, structure, narrative voice etc?
  • How does Bleak House fit into this - what themes and contexts does it raise as significant? What literary techniques can you identify? How does its handling of "the condition of England" resonate with or differ from the novels of last term?

You could also start to think about issues around connection, circulation and networks in Bleak House which we'll discuss more in week 2.

November 30, 2012

Week 10 Questions

The Farmer

Questions for the week 10 seminar on Tess of the D'Urbervilles:

  • Merryn Williams asserts that "Tess Durbeyfield, over and above her qualities as a person, is portrayed as a representative of her class and her sex". Consider the extent to which you agree with this statement, and the intersection of class and gender in the portrayal of Tess.
  • What different models of masculinity does the novel present?
  • The rural landscape is central to the novel; think about how locality is represented, and the implications of moving beyond this locale.

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