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Victorian Feelings

ENGL 051.001
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major

This survey of Victorian literature--chiefly novels, poetry and non-fictional prose--will explore major literary trends of the nineteenth century in Britain with a special focus on questions of feeling.  We will consider the feelings of our authors themselves, as well as the feelings they impute to others in their writings, as a way to understand the complex social relations Victorian literature struggled to represent--from the grandest expressions of sentiment in the British canon, such as the heroic grief of Tennyson’s In Memoriam and the intense eroticism of Rossetti’s Goblin Market, to more muted, minor affects such as erotic disaffection in Bronte’s Villette and the light comedy of The Mikado.  Because we will be investigating Victorian feelings as themselves literary creations brought into being by new theories of perception and consciousness, we will contextualize Victorian literary writing alongside other, less obviously literary kinds of writing, such as sentimental tracts on poverty, philosophical treatises on aesthetic sensibility, and scientific writings on sexual feelings.  This focus on Victorian feeling will help us to understand Victorian literature in a broad cultural context of provocative questions and debates concerning class, race, gender, sexuality, death, art, science, and the supernatural