This senior course studies the genre of the novel (begun in various junior courses), and traces its history through some of the great fictions of the nineteenth century. We will investigate the rhetoric of the novel in language, plot, structure, character and narration; its developments in the representation of places, events and states of mind; and the evolution of the role of the novel itself as the great chronicler and critic of a changing society. In exploring the relation between the novel and society, we will look at fictional representations of and attitudes to topics such as money, social class, empire, the family and sexuality. The novel developed in the mode of realism, and this course is also interested in the history, ideology and aesthetics of realism, and alternatives to this dominant mode.




The senior course gives students an opportunity to examine a literary genre, analyze its rhetoric and study its development. It will deepen their knowledge of literature and the expressive resources of the English language, and help them to a better understanding of history and of the roots of modernity. They will further practice and improve their skills of critical reading and analysis, oral discussion and argument, and thoughtful and effective writing. They will also be given some opportunity for guided but independent research. The chief objective is to help students to further develop their communicative skills and intellectual discipline, and to consolidate and extend their awareness of the cultures of other people, times and places, and thus to enrich their own.




We will meet once a week, for a 3-hour session on Mondays 9.30-12.30 (Second semester). The first hour will usually consist of a lecture on one syllabus novel. The second hour will usually be devoted to workshop discussion and group and individual tasks. The third hour will deal with a critical piece of writing about one of our syllabus texts, to help students understand not only the difference between primary and secondary text but also encounter various approaches to the novel (through history, modality, literary-theoretical approaches…). There is also an ongoing Moodle forum for information and discussion, where students can share their views and questions with each other and with the course teacher. Important supplementary material will also be posted on the Moodle. There is thus a substantial interactive element to this course. And of course students are encouraged to also consult the course teacher/ tutor in regular office hours or by appointment.




Course assessment is 100% coursework comprising one short reflection paper (400 words) (15%); one 1,000-1,200 word critique of a secondary essay on one of our syllabus texts (30%); one term paper of 1,800-2,000 words (45%); workshop and class participation (10%)




Core texts:

Jane Austen, Emma.

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre.

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist.


Course Reader:

  • The course pack is available for sale at AV & Reserve counter (Main Library, 1/F) at HK$159.00 per pack. Please make sure that your enrolment has been approved before purchasing the course pack. No refund can be arranged.



Last updated: 8 January 2018