FAMILY VALUES AND VICTORIAN FICTIONS
The "family values" dear to American politicians lead us back to the supposed domestic stability of Victorian England, when patriarchal authority over women was legally entrenched and officially unchallenged. Nevertheless, the most popular Victorian novels feature single parents, glorified orphans, and households in dissolution. We will examine the tension between official precept and popular mythology in works that include Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN, Charles Dickens' DOMBEY AND SON, Emily Brontë's WUTHERING HEIGHTS, Ellen Wood's EAST LYNNE, Florence Nightingale's CASSANDRA, and Wilkie Collins' THE WOMAN IN WHITE. Among other things, we shall contrast the sorts of critiques of family life available to male and female authors.
There will be a midterm and (probably) a final examination. Each student will also write a 10-20 page paper on a nineteenth-century novel not included on the syllabus.