The "family values" dear to American politicians lead us back to the supposed the stability of Victorian England, when patriarchal authority 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 novels that include Charles Dickens' DOMBEY AND SON, George Eliot's SILAS MARNER, Ellen Wood's EAST LYNNE, and Wilkie Collins' THE WOMAN IN WHITE.
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.