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Topics in 19th Century British Literature: Victorian Culture

ENGL 556.401
M 12-3

This course is both a cultural studies and a Victorian studies course (although we will move into the twentieth century about two thirds of the way through) focused on the idea (as the title perhaps suggests) of "culture." What are we talking about when we talk about culture, and from where do our ideas spring? We'll begin with Matthew Arnold's *Culture and Anarchy* (1869) and E.B. Tylor's *Primitive Culture* (1871) (a radical oxymoron in the Victorian period) and trace their ideas through several major Victorian, Edwardian, Modern and Postmodern texts. These might include: Eliot's *Daniel Deronda*; Tennyson's *In Memoriam*; selections from Ruskin, J.S. Mill, Pater and Wilde; Forster's *Howard's End*; Woolf's *Between the Acts*; Winnicott's *Playing and Reality*; Walcott's *Omeros* and perhaps the US literary journal *Kulchur* (from the 1950's). Theoretical texts will include anthropology and its many discontents; some familiar suspects from the Cultural Studies top 40; and some texts as yet to be discovered that will make culture--as an idea, a location, a collective conscious and unconscious reservoir-- as strange as possible.