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French-Speaking Worlds: Nicholas Paige

Tue November 14th 2023, 4:30 - 6:00pm
Event Sponsor
Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages
France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies
Stanford Global Studies Division
Building 260, Pigott Hall
450 Jane Stanford Way, Building 260, Stanford, CA 94305
Rm 216

Please join the upcoming French-Speaking Worlds: Then and Now talk with Nicholas Paige

"France and the Rise of the Rise of the (English) Novel: Problems in Literary Historiography"

Abstract: This paper attempts a genealogy of the “rise of the novel” — the phrase, but also the genre of academic study. More precisely, my descriptive aim is to chart the evolving place of French novelistic production in such studies, as it moves from central (in eighteenth-century accounts) to less than marginal (in Watt, for whom France is home to a parallel, not-quite-the-novel tradition). But I also have a methodological aim. I’ll argue that early, eighteenth-century rise-of-the-novel treatises actually have a much better, or at least more workable model of literary history than more recent studies. In short, the latter hold novels (and the novel) to be signs of unfolding History, whereas the former see the novel as a class of books, composed of sub-classes of works created by writers influenced by other works in the series. In many, even most cases the classifications proposed by these early treatises are unconvincing, perhaps downright silly. Nonetheless, they provide more plausible and productive ways for conceptualizing the “rise of the novel” than the ones that have dominated the scene for more than half a century.


Hosted by the French-Speaking Worlds: Then and Now Research Group, sponsored by the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages Research Unit and co-sponsored by the France-Stanford Center and Stanford Global Studies.

This event is part of Stanford Global Studies’ Global Research Workshop Program.