George Eliot in 2009?

Speaking of contemporary interest in George Eliot, here’s a question on a much smaller scale than my previous one: which George Eliot novel would you assign for a seminar on ‘Victorian Literature of Faith and Doubt’? I’m scheduled to teach such a class in Winter ’09 and though book orders won’t be due until the early fall, I always prefer to plan ahead. Plus as this will be a new class for me, it will take substantial preparation–which I can’t entirely do unless I know what I’m doing, if you see my point. Much of the reading list will be non-fiction and poetry (this will be my first chance to teach In Memoriam in several years, which will be a great treat). I expect to close out the term with Jude the Obscure; my very rough preliminary schedule suggests I have room for one more full-length novel. The Mill on the Floss, which will read particularly resonantly right after our ‘unit’ on Darwin, is my current first choice, but issues of ‘faith and doubt’ are perhaps more obviously front and center in Daniel Deronda. Or there’s Silas Marner, which would leave me room for another short work of fiction–or, with some shuffling of other readings, even for Jane Eyre, which I don’t usually teach with a religious emphasis. Or what about Scenes of Clerical Life? It’s striking that one of the period’s most profound thinkers about religion (in both its theological and its sociological aspects) actually treats the subject quite obliquely in her major works.


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