Fall 2020 Undergraduate English Courses

358:332 Victorian Literature

01   MW4   CAC   05673  SIEGEL  SC-216

The course is an introduction to the major topics and authors of a period of unprecedented change in religion, industry, empire, science, gender and sexuality, politics, and urban space. Victorian literature derives its energy from a host of irreconcilable ideas and realities: a Romantic emphasis on individual passion and freedom and a more modern stress on social conformity and productivity; the aristocracy’s age-old cultural power and the middle class’s increasing influence; traditional concepts of religious truth and new scientific ideas, including Darwin’s theory of evolution; sexual conservatism and the emergence of new sexual minorities; strict ideas of gendered difference and new roles for women; community ideals and the expansion of governmental and capitalistic institutions. Our emphasis will be on how imaginative literature makes sense of and contributes to these changes. We’ll be exploring a variety of genres (fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction prose) Victorian literature anticipated and shaped concerns still important in our era. It is also exciting, moving, and full of whimsy and passion. This course will attempt to do justice to both reasons for reading the Victorians.

Attendance: Required.

Evaluation: Weekly reading quizzes or writing exercises, three papers.