The Victorian era in Britain (1837-1901) is among the
least understood and most misinterpreted of all literary periods. This course
will expose you to the rich varieties of literary expression key to the period
as well as to the intensity of the social, political, scientific, and religious
controversies that the Victorians wrestled with in their writings, many of
which we are still grappling with today. We will cover the following four large
subject areas by focusing on the following authors and readings, all found in
our single textbook.
- Theory and Practice of Literature: selected poetry of Alfred Tennyson, Robert
Browning, and Matthew Arnold; short fiction by Elizabeth Gaskell, Wilkie
Collins, Thomas Hardy, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; excerpts
from essays by John Stuart Mill, Matthew Arnold, George Eliot, and Walter
Pater; plays by Dion Boucicault and Oscar Wilde.
- Politics, Poverty, and Society: excerpts from Carlyle’s PAST AND PRESENT, Mill’s ON
LIBERTY, Morris’ NEWS FROM NOWHERE, and Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
- Gender Roles and Women’s Rights: excerpts from Mill’s THE SUBJECTION OF WOMEN,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s AURORA LEIGH, and selected poetry of Emily Bronte,
Christina Rossetti, “Michael Field,” and Charlotte Mew.
- Science and Religion: excerpts from Darwin’s ORIGIN OF SPECIES and THE DESCENT OF MAN,
and Tennyson’s IN MEMORIAM, and selected poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins,
Matthew Arnold, and Algernon Swinburne.
Required Textbook: THE BROADVIEW ANTHOLOGY OF BRITISH LITERATURE -THE VICTORIAN ERA (VOLUME 5).
Written Assignments: 3 short essays, occasional quizzes.
Exams: Midterm and final.