Fall 2017

Big Books

Listed in: English, as ENGL-118


Alicia J. Mireles Christoff (Section 01)


This seminar explores the particular pleasures and interpretive problems of reading and writing about three very long works of fiction–novels so large that any sure grasp of the relation between individual part and mammoth whole may threaten to elude author and reader alike.  How do we gauge, and thereby engage with, narratives of disproportionate scale and encyclopedic ambition?  How do we lose, or find, our place in colossal fictional worlds?  As befits its interest in the losing and finding of place, the course introduces students to college-level literary study.  Short papers on different aspects of the novels will be assigned most weeks.  In a recent version of the course, the seminar’s three novels included George Eliot’s Middlemarch, the first volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, and Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood. Although the novels for fall 2017 have not yet been selected, they are likely to display similar historical, geographic, and stylistic diversity.

Limited to 18 first-year students.  Fall semester.  Professor Christoff.

If Overenrolled: If over-enrolled, enrollment will be by permission of the instructor, on the basis of a written account of need and desire for the class.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017