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Exactly where the story of the novel begins is an entire academic debate, but for our purposes we begin with Aphra Behn’s ‘proto novel’ Oroonoko and Daniel Defoe’s enduring classic, Robinson Crusoe. From there we sweep through the Eighteenth Century taking in extracts from Richardson’s Pamela, Fielding’s Tom JonesEvelina by Frances Burney and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. We then consider Dickens, George Eliot, JD Salinger and, finally, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.

The anchor text for the module is Great Expectations and students will follow the story of Pip alongside that of the novel. This is a very long text and whilst we want students to read it in its entirety, there’s no time for any analysis. We also recommend that several chapters are glossed so students can enjoy the more exciting parts. Along the way we take in some Victorian non-fiction writing on crime, the effects of serialisation, the concept of the bildungsroman as well as enjoying a foray into visual art with an examination of Hogarth’s The Rakes Progress.