Course Description

Course Name

A Mirror to Life: Realism in Literature

Session: VRMF3123

Hours & Credits

3 Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Course description
Wedged between the Romantic and Modern periods, Realism in literature is a substantive and stylistic course correction from the sentimental excesses of its predecessor and an essential steppingstone in the development of the psychological acuity of its successor. This course explores the character and legacy of realism, with its unique and surprising blend of Enlightenment values, progressive politics, and sharp critique of the alienating effects of intense urbanization in the techno‐scientific 19th century. Realist writers tackled urban poverty and degradation, the “new woman”, race, and immigration, inventing new narrative techniques to match the novelty of the human experience in the heart of the age of empire, expansion of capital, and mass society.

Required Textbook (subject to change)
Barrish, Philip J. The Cambridge Introduction to American Literary Realism. Cambridge University Press (ISBN: 9781139021678)
Handouts on MyAUR for all other texts

Course Learning Objectives
At the end of the course, students will be able to:
1. Recognize realism as a writing style in historical and contemporary texts.
2. Situate the realist period between romanticism and modernism.
3. Explain the philosophical outlook of literary realism.

Course Learning Activities

  • Active participation to class discussion [LO 1‐3]
  • Mid‐term exam ‐ short answer questions on readings [LO 1‐3]
  • Quote IDs ‐ daily quiz identifying quotes from readings [LO 1]
  • Final exam ‐ short answer questions on readings [LO 1‐3]
  • Final paper ‐ comparative analysis of three realist texts [1;3]

*Course content subject to change