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Victorian Faiths, Victorian Fantasies

ENGL 556.401

The seminar will not attempt anything so ambitious as to disentangle faith from fantasy in a literature shorn of traditional religious belief. Instead, we will examine a series of inspirational Victorian texts along with some of their fantastic counterparts, searching for convergences and divergences. Throughout the seminar, we will try to locate the imperceptible line between faith and fantasy. We will also try to place the “realism” that supposedly infuses Victorian fiction. Is capturing reality an act of faith, fantasy, or something else? Among the authors we will study are Wordsworth & Coleridge (Lyrical Ballads), Lewis Carroll (the Alice books), Tennyson (In Memoriam and Idylls of the King), Christina Rossetti, Charlotte Brontë, Dickens (Bleak House) and various uncanonical purveyors of reverence‒or escapism. Each student will present at least one oral report and will write an extended (20-odd page) account of material beyond the boundaries of our syllabus.


 Undergraduates need to fill out a permit form and receive the approval of the Graduate Chair, their advisor, and the professor for all 500-level courses.

fulfills requirements