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COURSE TITLE: Victorian Worlds: An Introduction to 19th -Century Literature
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Elizabeth Willson Gordon
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3 (hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: From tea parties to coal mines, this course explores a range of literature and its social contexts across the 19th century. Visit the country estates of the regency period of Jane Austen and the mid-century Victorian London of Charles Dickens. This course includes a variety of the era's prose--both fiction and non-fiction--as well as poetry, sampling many major authors and genres of the period. Explore the Victorian concept of "progress" during a time of scientific advancement, industrialism, colonialism and debates about gender, aesthetics, morality and faith.

Prerequisites: ENGL 215
  • Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Ed. Claudia Johnson. New York: Norton, 2002.
  • Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. Ed. Kate Flint. London: Penguin, 2003.
  • Gaskell, Elizabeth. North and South. Ed. Alan Shelston. New York: Norton, 2005. 
  • Poe, Edgar Allan. The Raven.
  • Robinson, Catherine and Carol Christ eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Victorian Age. Volume E. 9th ed. New York: Norton, 2012. 
  • Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Ed. Norman Page. Toronto: Broadview P, 2000.
Review Paper (3-4 pages)15%
Research Paper (8-10 pages)30%
Course Professionalism and Participation10%
Final Exam30%
COURSE OBJECTIVES:In this course we will explore the Victorian Age through its literature and cultural contexts. We will read a variety of the era’s prose and poetry, sampling many major authors of the Victorian period. We will explore the Victorian concept of “progress” during a time of great social and cultural upheaval. Through a roughly chronological study of the literature, we will look at the ways writing during this era is shaped by four main themes: the changing view of love, duty, and the female gender; advances in science and challenges to faith; the promise and problems of industrialism; the moral debates and new aesthetic philosophy. Alongside a few American authors of the same era, we will explore the ways in which the various literary forms reflect in their stylistics the philosophical and theological concerns of 19th-Century British life. 

Our study of Victorian literature and culture will include an element of lecture but is largely participatory. Students should expect to engage with the material in a range of ways: reading aloud, presenting contextual material, designing discussion questions, discussing impressions of the texts, writing about the texts in various formats, responding to peers’ work, etc. 
  • January 5 Introduction, The Victorian era: key terms and concepts
  • January 8 The “Woman Question”: The Victorian Debate about Gender (Norton p.1607-10), also Stickney Ellis, Patmore, Ruskin, Anonymous “The Great Social Evil, Mulock, Caird and Besant (found between pages 1610 and 1636)  
  • January 10 John Stuart Mill from The Subjection of Women (Norton p.1105-1115)
  • January 12 Quiz 1; Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
  • January 15 Sense and Sensibility continued
  • January 17 Sense and Sensibility continued
  • January 19 Sense and Sensibility continued
  • January 22 Quiz 2; Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s excerpts from Aurora Leigh (Norton p.1138-52)
  • January 24 IS Conference –No Class
  • January 26 Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets 21, 22, 32, 43 
  • January 29  Robert Browning’s “Love Among the Ruins” and “The Lost Leader”
  • January 31 Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Mariana” and “The Lady of Shalott”
  • February 2 Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” continued
  • February 5 Tennyson’s In Memoriam Reading
  • February 7 In Memoriam continued 
  • February 9  In Memoriam continued 
  • February 12 Quiz 3; Charles Dickens’s Hard Times
  • February 14 Hard Times continued
  • February 16 Hard Times continued
  • February 19 Reading Week
  • February 21 Reading Week
  • February 23 Reading Week
  • February 26 Quiz 4; Industrialism: Progress or Decline? (Norton p.1580-81), also The Children’s Employment Commission, Kinsley, Mayhew, and Besant (found between pages1587 and 1605)
  • February 28 Review Paper Due; Charles Darwin excerpts from The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man (p.1560-73); Review presentations
  • March 2 Review presentations and discussion
  • March 5 Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven (online)
  • March 7 Arnold’s excerpts from Culture and Anarchy (p.1418-1425) and “Dover Beach”
  • March 9 Thomas Carlyle’s excerpts from Past and Present (p.1067-1076)
  • March 12 Quiz 5; Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South
  • March 14 North and South continued
  • March 16 North and South continued
  • March 19 North and South continued
  • March 21  Paper Abstracts Due on Moodle; North and South continued
  • March 23 John Ruskin excerpts from Modern Painters (p.1338-42), [The Awakening Conscience] and Pre-Raphaelitism (p.1466-1470)
  • March 26 William Michael Rossetti [The Pre-Raphaelite Manifesto] (p.1470-71) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “Jenny”(p.1478-87) 
  • March 28  Research Paper Due; Gerard Manley Hopkins “God’s Grandeur,” ”The Windhover” and “Spring”
  • March 30  Good Friday – No Class
  • April 2 Easter Monday – No Class 
  • April 4 Quiz 6; Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • April 6  The Picture of Dorian Gray continued  
  • April 9  The Picture of Dorian Gray continued
  • April 11  The Picture of Dorian Gray continued
  • April 13  Salon (informal presentation of research material and review)

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