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Victorians and Moderns

ENGL 225.301
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Pre-1900 Seminar Requirement of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

What do Victorian hypnotists and Freudian psychiatrists have in common?  How does a Victorian anti-hero differ from a “modern” one?  In many ways, the tumultuous novels of the Victorian era prefigure the disaffected literatures of the early 20th Century.  Many works of British modernism explicitly reject the melodramatic artfulness of their Victorian forerunners, yet implicitly embrace this conflicted parentage in the bouts of melancholia, alienation, and social upheaval that shape the “modern” novel.  By pairing modern Victorians with Victorian moderns, this course will tease out this influence and examine the crucial thematic and aesthetic resonances between two sharply contrasted movements.  We will delve into the sprawling, sensationalist novels of such writers as Eliot, Stoker, Carroll, Dickens, and Hardy and search for traces of their Victorian sensibilities in the reactionary novels of early 20th century writers such as Woolf, Joyce, West, Ford, and Beckett.  Course requirements are likely to include a series of short response papers, a mid-term, and a final research paper.