We will study the evolution of the nineteenth-century novel as it moves from Jane Austen's pastorals to the ruder ones of Thomas Hardy, exploring ways in which the novel at once reflects, soothes, and exacerbates the unspoken tensions within its culture. We will trace the disruptive pressure of increasingly powerful women and the intensifying pull of the past, which becomes more difficult to resist as modernity takes shape. Novels we shall read include Jane Austen's Emma, Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Dickens' Bleak House, and Hardy’s Return of the Native. Each student will write a midterm and a final exam. There will also be an optional paper focusing on a nineteenth-century novel of your choice beyond the syllabus.