A stack of novels.
Centres and institutes_

The Novel Network

Investigating the role of the novel in a digitised society
The Novel Network group examines the relationship between the novel and the ‘everyday’.

About us

Comprising academics from across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Novel Network examines the novel from a range of disciplinary perspectives: from the literary critical to the socio-historical, philosophical and ethnographic.

We consider:

  • how the global novel functions politically and socially
  • whether periodicity is a useful way of classifying novels or whether there is another more compelling way they can historicised
  • the current state of novel theory
  • whether there is more than a nostalgic place for the novel’s particular readerly pleasures, such as: for deep absorption, for the framework of the page and the tactile rhythm of its turning.

Our group supports the work of the postgraduate Novel Studies Reading Group, which meets across semesters for detailed discussion of specific authors or novel theorists.

Core members of the Novel Network, Frow, Hardie and Smith, edit the Oxford University Press series Approaches to the Novel

The Novel Network is formally affiliated (via a Memorandum of Understanding) with the Society for Novel Studies in the United States.

Our events and publications

The Novel Network runs conferences, masterclasses and reading groups and has generated numerous publications. These events and publications not only showcase the work of its members, but provide valuable training for its postgraduate student and future academic members.

The Novel Network supports the work of the postgraduate Novel Studies Reading Group, whose current convenor is Jess Masters (jessica.masters@sydney.edu.au). Please contact Jess if you wish to be involved in the postgraduate group’s activities.

  • Nancy Armstrong, Gilbert, Louis, and Edward Lehrman Distinguished Professor of English, Duke Univeristy, 2013: The Affective Turn in the Contemporary Novel (lecture and masterclass)
  • Jonathan Arac, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English, University of Pittsburgh, 2016:  Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy in American World Literature (lecture); Triangulating Moby Dick: Intersections of American Studies, World Literature, and Theory of the Novel (masterclass)
  • Deidre Lynch, Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature, Harvard, 2023: Believing in Novels: Hoax, Hocus, and the Gothic (November 7, lecture); Ephemera, Leavings, and the Boundaries of the Book in the Electronic Age: The Case of Ali Smith (November 8, masterclass)
  • Tina Lupton, Copenhagen, 2024: ‘Who’s got the Kids?: Women, Child Care and Writing to the Moment (April 12, masterclass)
  • Jed Esty, Vartan Gregorian Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania (May 24, masterclass)
  • In 2018, three core members of the Novel Network, Smith, Hardie and Frow, visited Harvard, funded combinedly by Harvard and the University of Sydney’s office of global engagement, presenting their research in a series of colloquia at the Mahindra Humanities Centre.

Frow, J., Hardie, M., Smith, V. (2020). The Bildungsroman: form and transformations. Textual Practice, 34(12). [More Information]

Cogle, J., Fischer, N., Saleh Rofail, L., Smith, V. (2018). Portable Prose: The Novel and the Everyday.  Lexington Books. [More Information]

Frow, J., Smith, V. (2017). The Prosaic Imaginary. Novel, 50(1). [More Information]

Smith, V., Frow, J. (2016). Novel Worlds. Journal of Language, Literature and Culture, 63(2-3). [More Information]

Our people

The Novel Network is made up of academics and researchers from across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. We welcome the opportunity to connect with other researchers in various and similar disciplines.



Group Convenor

Professor Vanessa Smith