The Novel Studies Reading Group at the University of Sydney seeks to bring together doctoral candidates working in a range of novel-centred topics and narrative theories across the humanities. We engage in weekly scholarly discussions focused on canonical and contemporary works in novel theory. All the readings are pre-assigned, selected by current doctoral candidates to offer both new and established scholars in novel theory a focused point for discussion. While each semester the reading group features a different theme, expertise on the theorist or topic under discussion is not a prerequisite for participation. Anyone interested in a friendly interdisciplinary approach to novel studies is welcome to join. The overall endeavour of the group is to interrogate the term “novel” through theory, considering questions of the novel as object/artifact, the social function of the novel, and ideas of the novel in reading spaces.


Tuesdays, 5-7pm
S226, John Woolley Building A20

Semester 1, 2017: Reading Alison Shonkwiler

Date Topic
28 March

The Financial Imaginary

Reading 1  

11 April

The Financial Sublime

Reading 1  

2 May

Jameson on Culture and Finance Capital

Reading 1 

16 May

The Financial Imaginary continued

Reading 1  Reading 2

30 May

Reading Cosmopolis

Reading 1

13 June

Reading Capitalism Realisms

Reading 1  Reading 2  Reading 3

Semester 2, 2016: Reading Jonathan Arac

Date Topic
8 Sept

Defining an Age of the Novel

Reading 1   Reading 2  

22 Sept

Jameson on George Eliot

Reading 1   Reading 2  

6 Oct

Marxists Fight over Eliot

Reading 1  Reading 2 

13 Oct

Imperial Eclecticism

Reading 1

Semester 1, 2016: Middlebrow Literature

Date Topic
24 March

The Battle of the Brows

Reading 1   Reading 2   Reading 3

7 April

Book Clubs

Reading 1   Reading 3   Reading 3

21 April

Production and Consumption

Reading 1   Reading 2

5 May

L'Art Moyen

Reading 1

19 May

Australian Middlebrow

Reading 1   Reading 2

2 June

Reading Practice

Reading 1

Semester 2, 2015: The Novel and Jane Austen

Date Topic
27 August

Austen and the rise of the Novel.

Reading 1   Reading 2

10 September

Critical Austen

Reading 1   Reading 2

24 September

Austen and Sexuality

Reading 1   Reading 2

8 October

Austen and Postcoionialism

Reading 1

29 October

Austen's Voice

Reading 1

12 November


Reading 1   Reading 2

Semester 1, 2015: Affect

Date Topic
19 March

Introduction; Freudian Drives


2 April

On Shame

Reading1  Reading 2

16 April

On Kindness and Tears

Reading 1  Reading 2

7 May

Gut Feelings and Disgust

Reading 1  Reading 2

28 May


Reading 1  Reading 2

11 June

Massumi and the autonomy of affect


Semester 2, 2014: Surface Reading

Date Topic
28 August Sontag "Against Interpretation" and Marcus/Best "Surface Reading: An Introduction"
11 September Sedgwick "Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading"
25 September Marcus "Just Reading: Female Friendship and the Marriage Plot"
9 October Love "Close but not Deep"
23 October Cohen "Narratology in the Archive of Literature"
6 November Reilly "Always Sympathise! Surface Reading, Affect and George Eliot's Romola"

Semester 1, 2014: Reading Fredric Jameson

Date Topic
13 March On Raymond Chandler
27 March imaginary and Symbolic
10 April The Realist Floor-Plan
24 April Modernism and Imperialism
8 May Antimonies of Realism Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
22 May The Experiments of Time Prominence and Realism

Semester 2, 2013: Reading Nancy Armstrong

Date Topic
26 September The Necessary Gothic
10 October A Gothic History of the British Novel
24 October The Victorian Archive and its Secret
7 November The Sensation Novel: a Genre Study
21 November The Network Novel
5 December When Sympathy Fails

Our work in Semester 2, 2013 will build to a 9 December master class and lecture with Nancy Armstrong, Gilbert, Lewis, and Edward Lehrman, Professor of English, Duke University, and Editor, Novel: A Forum on Fiction.

Details TBA.