Deviance in Victorian Fiction
Spring 1996

Erin O'Connor

According to Michel Foucault, the Victorians invented deviance. In this course we will both anatomize and test that claim, studying how an emergent social and scientific interest in the abnormal, the unnatural, and the pathological enabled Victorians to describe a variety of activities, affects, and beliefs as deviant. Throughout the century, whole scientific disciplines grew up around the threatening figures of criminals, homosexuals, paupers and hysterical women; while even such seemingly innocuous topics as masturbation, nervousness and dirt were pervaded by a sense of danger and disgust. The novel was a crucial part of this broad cultural obsession with the unacceptable, providing elaborate meditations on what it meant to be normal, as well as on what it meant to transgress the bounds of decency. To gain a sense of context, we will supplement our literary readings with a range of Victorian non-fictional writings on troubling practices and worrisome behaviors, from masturbation and murder to sodomy and prostitution. We will also engage seriously with recent theoretical work on deviance and Victorian culture.

Required Texts:

Braddon, M.E. Lady Audley's Secret
Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking-Glass
Eliot, George. Silas Marner
Gaskell, Elizabeth. Cranford
Hardy, Thomas. The Mayor of Casterbridge
Stevenson, Robert Louis. DrJekyll and MrHyde
Stoker, Bram. Dracula
Wells, H.G. The Invisible Man

Course Policies and Procedures:

Required Work:

In this course, you will write 2 formal papers in addition to preparing a variety of informal writing assignments.

One short paper, due Friday March 1, should be 7-10 pages long and should represent a preliminary effort to identify and think through some of the questions you will be addressing in your second paper.

Research paper, due Monday April 29, 15-20. Should represent a substantial amount of research and synthesis. On some aspect of deviance in Victorian writing. Must use at least 5 secondary sources in addition to the background material covered in the course.

Seminars are group efforts; this course will be as good as you make it. Each member of this seminar has a personal responsibility to our collective intellectual endeavor. Your regular attendance, your timely completion of reading assignments, and your lively participation are crucial to the success of this course. For that reason, the following policies will be strictly adhered to:
Participation: I expect everyone to speak in each class session at least once. Dialogue is at the heart of intellectual exchange
Frequent absences will lower your grade for the course. Five or more absences will result in a failing grade.
There will be occasional unannounced quizzes on the assigned reading.

This course requires that you have an email account and that you use it. The listserv address for this class is oconnor355. If you are registered for the course you are automatically added to the listserv. The listserv provides you with a separate forum in which to raise questions relavant to the concerns of the course as well as to further class discussion about particular texts. It is a place where you can generate questions, brainstorm collectively, and conduct your own discussions about course material. The listserv is most effective if list members contribute regularly and interactively. In the spirit of maintaining a continuous extracurricular dialogue about deviance, each member of the class will be required to contribute regularly and substantially to the listserv. Although I will not be participating in listserv discussions (this is your own forum), I will be following them. You should expect to make at least one substantial listserv contribution (15-20 lines) per novel. Failure to do so will damage your grade in this course.

15 intro
17 M.E. Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret chaps 1-6
19 Lady Audley's Secret chaps 7-19

22 Lady Audley's Secret, Vol II, chaps 1-13
24 selections from Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality and Discipline and Punish
26 Foucault, contd.

29 Lady Audley's Secret, Vol III, chaps 1-10
31 Elaine Showalter, "The Rise of the Victorian Madwoman" & "Managing Women's Minds"
2 Ruth Harris, "Female Crimes of Passion"

5 Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
7 Max Nordau, "Degeneration"; Cesare Lombroso, from Criminal Man
9 Judith Walkowitz, "Jack the Ripper"

12 Thomas Hardy, Mayor of Casterbridge, chaps 1-8
14 Mayor of Casterbridge, chaps 9-15
16 Mayor of Casterbridge, chaps 16-22

19 Mayor of Casterbridge, chaps 23-29
21 Mayor of Casterbridge, chaps 30-36
23 Mayor of Casterbridge, chaps 37-45

26 Judith Walkowitz, "The Maiden Tribute"
28 Alexander Welsh, from George Eliot and Blackmail

Paper due in my mailbox, 119 Bennett Hall, by 4:30 pm.

4 George Eliot, Silas Marner
6 Karl Marx, "The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret"
Thomas Richards, "The Image of Victoria in the Year of Jubilee"
8 Jeff Nunokawa, "The Miser's Two Bodies"

Mar (spring break)

18 Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford
20 Joan Jacobs Brumberg, selections from Fasting Girls
22 Elaine Abelson, selections from When Ladies Go A-Thieving

25 Lewis Carroll,Through the Looking-Glass
27 Through the Looking-Glass, contd.
29 Joseph Merrick, "Autobiography of the Elephant Man"
Frederick Treves, "The Elephant Man," British Medical Journal,

1 H.G. Wells, The Invisible Man
3 Invisible Man
5 Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Psychopathia Sexualis, Case 129 (BP)

8 Bram Stoker, Dracula
10 Dracula
12 Dracula

15 Dracula
17 Christopher Craft, "Kiss Me With Those Red Lips"; Mark
Seltzer, "Serial Killers" (BP)
19 synthesis

Apr (finals)