English 251b A. Bennett
MW 12:30-2 HU III


Literature and Culture of the 19th Century: Victorian Spaces

This course will explore the many spaces that shaped Victorian literature and culture. From the home to the street, the school to the theater, the shop to the museum, we will encounter the varied, rapidly changing locales of Victorian life that arose in the context of industrialization, colonial expansion, and dramatically shifting gender roles and conceptions of sexuality.  As we do so, we will follow the lead of authors who approached such spaces as more than mere backdrop, but instead as sites that could both limit and cultivate various desires and identities. Placing influential literature from the period (including work by Dickens, Gaskell, Schreiner, Tennyson, the Brontës and the Rossettis) next to travel narratives, conduct books, and design manuals, we will pursue the possible relations between self, community and place. 

Additional Reading Material:
Charlotte Brontë, Villette
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford
Harriet Martineau, Eastern Life, Past and Present
Coventry Patmore, The Angel in the House
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “The Burden of Nineveh”
Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm
Alfred Tennyson, The Princess
Short excerpts from conduct books, acting guides, and design manuals

Two essays (4-5 pages and 5-6 pages), a midterm exam, and a final exam.