What is the course about?
The course looks at a major character type from 19th century Russian literature, the superfluous man, and examines how it developed and evolved throughout the 19th century. Frequently a disaffected individual for a range of psychological, political or cultural reasons, the character offers a unique way to read the literature of the 19th century in both European and American contexts.
Richard Niland has published widely on Joseph Conrad and a range of other 19th and 20th century writers. He taught for many years at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow and is interested in the various intersections of literature, culture, politics, music and film in different global contexts.
What will we cover?
The class will cover texts by Byron, Irving, Stendhal, Lermontov, Melville, Dostoevsky, Hamsun and Conrad. In addition to examining the work of each individual writer, the class will chart the development of literary style across the 19th century, from Romanticism to Realism to Modernism, through the prism of the character of the “superfluous man”.
Texts for Reading:
Second-hand copies of paperbacks published by Penguin and Oxford World’s Classics are recommended and are very cheaply available. I’ve also included links to free online copies of the texts below.
• Lord Byron, Manfred (1816) https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Manfred,_a_dramatic_poem
• Stendhal, The Red and the Black (1830) https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Red_and_the_Black
• Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time (1841) https://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/myl/hero.htm
• Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1853) http://moglen.law.columbia.edu/LCS/bartleby.pdf
• Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (1864) https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Notes_from_Underground
• Knut Hamsun, Hunger (1890) https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Hunger_(Hamsun)
• Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (1899) https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Lord_Jim.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Students will have developed their literary, historical, and critical knowledge and expression, through varied reading on 19th century literature.
• Students should develop understanding of key 19th century works, and a knowledge of the main historical, literary and political contexts of nineteenth century literature.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No particular skills are needed other than an interest in literature, reading and discussion.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The class will be held in two-hour sessions over ten weeks. The first hour will be an interactive lecture on the text, writer, themes and contexts. The second half will be a round table and small group discussion of the texts in detail.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will need to buy or borrow most texts; photocopies of the autobiographical essays will be provided. Please refer to No.2 for details.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look up Literature courses in the prospectus under Humanities or on the website under History, Culture and Writing.