A day in the life of the everyday: the twentieth century circadian novel: Mrs. Dalloway, One Fine Day, The Hours

Course Dates: 26/04/24 - 14/06/24
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: Keeley Street
Novels that fit all their action into just one day (‘circadian novels’) have been penned by some of literature’s most esteemed authors. This course focuses on three novels which use the one-day structure to tell their stories: Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925), Mollie Pater-Downes’s One Fine Day (1947), and Michael Cunningham’s The Hours (1999). It explores how they portray the inner life of characters, at the same time as engaging with broader social issues of the time.
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A day in the life of the everyday: the twentieth century circadian novel: Mrs. Dalloway, One Fine Day, The Hours
  • Course Code: HLT13
  • Dates: 26/04/24 - 14/06/24
  • Time: 12:30 - 14:30
  • Taught: Fri, Daytime
  • Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Jenny Stevens

Course Code: HLT13

Fri, day, 26 Apr - 14 Jun '24

Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)

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What is the course about?

This in-college course examines how three novels use the architecture of the circadian form to evoke interior thought and feeling, as well as depicting a particular place and time. It examines the narrative technique employed by all three novelists, thereby tracing the development of the novel form in the course of the twentieth century.

In studying Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, alongside Michael Cunningham’s imaginative reworking of the novel, we will consider the literary status of adaptations and how far we should expect them to be ‘faithful’ to the original. Placing One Fine Day next to Mrs Dalloway brings a different comparative perspective to the course: how have two female authors depicted a society radically changed by a world war?

What will we cover?

Beginning with Mrs Dalloway, the course looks at how Woolf evokes London life in the first few years after the First World War, paying particular attention to the author’s modernist style and preoccupations. Moving next to One Fine Day, it considers how Panter-Downes depicts rural Sussex just after the Second World War – a time of ongoing rationing and austerity. Finally, the course returns to Mrs Dalloway via Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, an imaginative rewriting of Woolf’s novel, which extends the circadian structure to take in three single days in three different lives: Virginia Woolf in 1923, a housewife in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and a female writer in 1990s New York.

In studying these three novels we will cover some important concepts of literary fiction, including intertextuality, parallel story structures, and stream-of-consciousness narration.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Appreciate the challenges and rewards of the circadian novel form
• Understand how three novelists have used the form to depict individual and collective experiences at a particular time in the twentieth century
• Identify a range of narrative devices used to represent human consciousness
• Discuss twentieth-century fiction, including fictional adaptation, with confidence.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Some experience of the study of literary fiction would be useful.

Learners will need to have an enthusiasm for the novel, an openness to different approaches to reading fiction, and a willingness to listen to the views of others.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

There will be a mixture of tutor presentation and small-group and whole-class discussion. We will study key passages from each novel in class and you will need to read the novels in their entirety outside of class time.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will need to buy or borrow copies of the three novels to be studied.
Any editions will do, though the following edition is recommended for Mrs Dalloway (Penguin Classics, 2019)
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
One Fine Day by Mollie Pater- Downes
The Hours by Michael Cunningham

All other materials will be supplied by the tutor.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You might be interested in HLT289 Historical Novels: re-imagining and rewriting. Look for this and other fiction courses at www.citylit.ac.uk under history, culture & writing/literature/fiction.

Jenny Stevens

Jenny Stevens has taught English at both pre-university and degree level. A former Head of English, she currently combines part-time teaching with academic writing and series editing for Methuen Modern Drama editions. She has an MA in Victorian Studies and a PhD in late-Victorian literature. Her publications include ‘Faith, Fiction and the Historical Jesus’ (2010) and three co-authored Arden Shakespeare guides for undergraduate readers. Jenny is a Founding Fellow of the English Association.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.