So my project has taken a bit of a change of direction. Instead of focusing on transatlantic 19th century lit, I'll be looking at the Victorian period, the novel as genre, and theories of community and classification. The change is a move away from American lit to focusing on the novel. There are a few reasons for this shift. One is simple preference. I love novels and have always been fascinated by their history. Another reason has to do with Victorian litereature, which is novel-heavy (literally and figuratively, with all those triple-deckers). I think a solid background in the origin of novels and how they evolved after the Victorian period would help me better understand and teach Victorian literature. And finally I think there's something about the novel that captures the shifting nature of community and class systems during the 19th century. So the novel it is.
I've compiled a list, which I need to run past my committee members (of which there are finally four-yay!), but I'd love suggestions. I'm specifically looking for suggestions regarding precursors or origins of the novel. I've been pointed in the direction of Lucian, a second-century Assyrian rhetorician and satirist. And of course I am reading Don Quixote (it's what I'm reading now, in fact). Are there other suggestions? I'm also looking for suggestions regarding theory and criticism that focuses on the novel. I know the usual suspects, but I'd like suggestions of more recent work than that of McKeon and Watt, et al. So do share if you have any ideas.