Jane J Lee
Literature in an era of revolution that also sought continuity, when culture faced redefinition as mass culture and found in the process new demands and creative energies, new material and forms, and transformations of old ones. Readings range from works of Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Shaw, to Dickens, Eliot, Hardy.
This course focuses on Victorian literature. The Victorians lived in a rapidly changing and modernizing world; the nineteenth century saw sweeping political, technological, industrial, social, cultural, economic and literary changes occur, in ways that cemented many of the foundations of modernity as we now know it. It will be our task and goal to closely examine some of this dynamism to get a better sense of the complexity of the period. The nature of these shifts caused many authors and thinkers to theorize, in writing, how to make sense of and understand this world. We will examine a range of writers and texts to gain a broad understanding of the anxieties and hopes which fueled these viewpoints, especially across—but not limited to—the issues of imperialism, nationalism, gender, class, race, industry, and political economy.
Novels will include works by Dickens, George Eliot, Collins, and Wilde. We will also examine essays by Thomas Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, John Stuart Mill, Eliot, Harriet Martineau, and John Ruskin, among others, as well as a variety of poetry.
Required Texts: Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. 1838. (Norton: 978-0393962925) Eliot, George. Silas Marner. 1861. (Penguin: 978-0141439754) Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone. 1868. (Broadview: 978-1551112435) Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. 1890. (Broadview: 978-1551111261)
Student learning goals
Develop and apply critical reading skills to literature and secondary criticism
Strengthen cultural/historical knowledge of the period
Demonstrate engagement through sustained analytic writing
Contribute to thoughtful, intellectual conversation about course materials
Appreciation for/knowledge about c19 literature
General method of instruction
You should expect a heavy reading schedule. Please be willing and able to keep up. Other requirements for the course will include a mid-term exam, short writing assignments, a final paper, and a possible presentation. Ongoing, active participation and discussion is also a significant component of your final evaluation.
Though not required, I recommend having taken a writing course in preparation for this class.
Class assignments and grading