Summer 2014 Undergraduate Courses: Nineteenth Century

350:309 Victorian Literature

B1  5/27-7/3  MTWTH 12:30-2:20PM  CAC   04166  PHILLIPS  FH-A2

Sensationalism, melodrama, and sex—detective fiction, the adventure novel, and the dramatic monologue—class strife, colonialism, and the discourses of gender and sexuality are but a few of the many inheritances of the Victorians. Victorian literature and art—that is, the literature and art produced in Britain and its colonies during the reign of Queen Victorian from 1837 until her death in 1901—attests to this century as a period of change and flux, with rapid industrial development, imperial expansion, social progress, and economic growth. Like with contemporary society, with increased prosperity came increased disparity and inequality: a growing middle class alongside the popular perception of an explosion in poverty and dispossession. Like with any period of great change, then, Victorian literature can provide a window onto the turbulent history of this fascinating era in Western modernity.

In this course we will examine a broad survey of the major authors, artists, and ideas of the Victorian age, within their various historical, social, and formal contexts. Our readings will traverse the many genres of Victorian literature and culture, from well-known novels to poetry, with stops along the way to survey drama, the visual arts, and social criticism. Our readings may include novels by Charlottë Bronte, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Robert Louis Stevenson; poems by Alfred Tennyson, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Matthew Arnold, and Christina Rossetti; drama by J. R. Planché, Leopold Lewis, and Oscar Wilde; visual art by Pre-Raphaelites like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris; and social criticism by Thomas Carlyle, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Marx.

Requirements: two short papers (5–7 pages), presentations, and a final exam. Regular attendance is expected.