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Victorian Fiction

ENGL 055.001
instructor(s):
TR 10:15-11:45am
fulfills requirements:
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Pre-1900 Seminar Requirement of the Standard Major

This course offers an introduction to fiction of the Victorian period—an era during which Great Britain reached the height of its global power, and the novel reached the height of its cultural influence. We will examine how novels invited their rapidly expanding mass audience to grapple with the sweeping transformations that shaped the nineteenth century: industrial capitalism, the growth of large cities, imperial expansion, political reform, secularization, new scientific paradigms (including Darwin's theory of evolution), technological development, class struggle, debates on the “Woman Question,” and theories of race and of sexuality whose consequences still confront us today. As we explore this remarkably prolific period in the history of the novel, we will consider how a variety of genres (including the Gothic, the Bildungsroman, realism, sensation fiction, naturalism, and detective fiction) redefined the relationship between literature and modern social life. Readings may include works of fiction by Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Mary Braddon, Thomas Hardy, and Arthur Conan Doyle.