Blog Assignment #5: Brave New World

First edition cover, from Wikipedia.

First edition cover, from Wikipedia.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) is similar to Mrs. Dalloway in that it attempts to portray the society as well as the people who inhabit it. One very big difference, however, is that Brave New World projects a future utopian England in which humanity has become subordinated to technology, among other things. In what ways is the portrayal of self and society in Brave New World like or unlike some of the previous works we’ve read this term? Please provide a quote that illustrates your meaning.


August 8, 2008. Uncategorized. 10 comments.

Blog Assignment #4: Mrs. Dalloway


A map of London showing the paths walked by the characters in Mrs. Dalloway

A map of London showing the paths walked by the characters in Mrs. Dalloway

Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (1925) attempts to portray the lives of Clarissa Dalloway and several other characters in the state of post-war England. One significant section in the early part of the novel describes the passing of a mysterious automobile and then the spectacle of a skywriting airplane spelling out an advertisement, perhaps for toffee. In the process of describing these events, the narrative incorporates the private reactions of several different people. The mixture of these private reactions with descriptions of the exterior events often has a poetic effect that seems to say a lot about what this novel is exploring.


Something so trifling in single instances that no mathematical instrument, though capable of transmitting shocks in China, could register the vibration; yet in its fulness rather formidable and in its common appeal emotional; for in all the hat shops and tailors’ shops strangers looked at each other and thought of the dead; of the flag; of Empire. In a public house in a back street a Colonial insulted the House of Windsor which led to words, broken beer glasses, and a general shindy, which echoed strangely across the way in the ears of girls buying white underlinen threaded with pure white ribbon for their weddings. For the surface agitation of the passing car as it sunk grazed something very profound. [17-18]

How would you describe the novel’s narrative technique? What is this passage about? And how do the two relate to each other?

August 1, 2008. Uncategorized. 11 comments.

Blog Assignment #3: Howards End

Rooks Nest, the house that served as a model for that in Howards End.

Rook's Nest, the house that served as a model for that in Howards End.

For Monday 7/28 we’ll be reading E. M. Forster’s Howards End, the preface and pp. 5-134. This novel tells the story of three English families of the Edwardian middle classes. Like many of the stories we’ve read this term, this one concerns itself, on the one hand, with social unity and, on the other, with conflicts between social influences and the self. Based on your reading for Monday, how does this narrative seem to handle an important conflict between the self and one or two social factors? Use a brief example from the text to make your statement concrete.

July 26, 2008. Uncategorized. 9 comments.

Hi everyone,

as discussed in class on Monday, this is the link to dailylit, a website that allows you to read books via email.

“Howards End” is in there if someone wants it to give it a try.

July 23, 2008. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Blog Assignment #2: Imagery and Paralysis in Joyce’s Dubliners

For Monday you’ll read three short stories from James Joyce’s Dubliners. The stories portray ordinary people in Dublin, Ireland, during the first decade of the Twentieth Century, in a realistic prose style marked by vivid imagery and a certain musicality. How does Joyce use imagery or sound to explore the relationship between self and society in any one of these stories? Be sure to provide an example from the text.

Of course, feel free to write on anything else you might have observed, too.

July 18, 2008. Uncategorized. 10 comments.

Blog Assignment #1: Conrad’s “Youth”

Tomorrow we will be discussing Joseph Conrad’s short story “Youth” (1898). The story is narrated by someone sitting around a table of men with ties to commerce, yet nearly the entire story is quoted from someone named Marlow. In what ways is the manner of the story’s telling related to Marlow’s theme of Youth?

July 15, 2008. Uncategorized. 10 comments.

Welcome to the Course

Welcome to ENG 41.2 Modern British Fiction to 1950! This course is a survey of modern British fiction from the beginning to the middle of the Twentieth Century. We will explore the development of prose fiction as a vehicle for the examination of self and society through representative works by Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and Aldous Huxley. In particular, we will examine how modernist innovations in narrative were used to explore new ground in ethics, politics, psychology, and sensibility.

On this blog there will be occasional short writing assignments. The purpose of these is to formulate a response to a reading before class and to allow you to start generating material you might use in your papers. I will post a topic on the blog and you will write a 1-2 paragraph response in the comments. Be sure to read your classmates’ responses before writing your own in order to enhance the conversation. In other words, if you agree with someone, don’t merely reiterate his or her comments but take them a step further; if you disagree, say why and use evidence from the text. Your responses can be somewhat informal but will be graded on their insightfulness and level of engagement with the question. Also, you should think of this as your website, so feel free to make your own posts, add pages, or add links even if there’s no assignment. In that way, we can generate a resource that will be helpful to us in our work.

For your first assignment, go to and sign up for an account if you don’t already have one (the giant green button at the top). Then post a comment below to say hello and tell me your WordPress username so I can add you to our blog.

Gold star for anyone who comments on how the above video deals with self and society. Looking forward to working with you!

— Jeff

July 14, 2008. Uncategorized. 10 comments.