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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Postgraduate Course: The Victorians and the Past (ENLI11136)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaEnglish Literature Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionFew things can tell us more about a society than its view of history, its sense of the past. Much of what we think of as modern had its origins in the Victorian period, but the Victorians themselves were obsessed with what came before. And for good reason. New disciplines like geology, biology, archaeology, philology, anthropology, and comparative folklore had unearthed a bewildering variety of hitherto unsuspected pasts. New schools, museums, and publishing practices diffused the knowledge to a wider public than ever before. Political, religious, scientific, and literary debates were conducted in terms of competing understandings of history. The Victorians rewrote and appropriated the past in order to further their own ideological agendas, and made it a warning or an exemplar for their contemporaries. In this course we will survey several broad areas that loomed large in the Victorian and Edwardian imagination via the poetry and fiction of major authors, and through contextual readings (included in a specially designed reading pack on WebCT) from contemporary publications. We will examine literature as part of a complex interdisciplinary network of knowledge creation, and explore how a wide range of writers tried to construct, preserve, or discredit different versions of the past, of ancestry, heritage, and modernity.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
In addition to the skills training common to all English Literature Masters-level courses (essay-writing, independent reading, group discussion, oral presentation, small-group autonomous learning) this course aims to develop the student's understanding of how a wide range of Victorian and Edwardian writers tried to construct, preserve, or discredit different versions of the past, of ancestry, heritage, and modernity. Students will examine literature as part of a complex interdisciplinary network of knowledge creation, and explore the workings of the cultural imagination.
Assessment Information
One essay of 4,000 words
Special Arrangements
PG Version
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Week 1: Introduction: Genres, disciplines, geographies, and periods
Week 2: Deep Time and Evolution: Alfred Tennyson, from In Memoriam A. H. H. (1850), ┐By An Evolutionist┐ (1889), ┐Parnassus┐ (1889), ┐The Dawn┐ (1892), ┐The Making of Man┐ (1892); and Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World (1912)
Week 3: Savages, Myths and Fairy Tales: Andrew Lang, ┐The Method of Folklore┐ from Custom and Myth (1884), Introduction from Modern Mythology (1897), and The Coloured Fairy Books Prefaces (1889-1910); W. B. Yeats, The Wanderings of Oisin (1889)
Week 4: Unearthing Ancient Civilisations: D. G. Rossetti, ┐The Burden of Nineveh┐ (1856); and Edith Nesbit, The Story of the Amulet (1906)
Week 5: National Origins: Alfred Tennyson, ┐Battle of Brunanburh┐ (1880), Rudyard Kipling, Puck of Pook┐s Hill (1906)
Week 6: Classicism: T. B. Macaulay, Preface and ┐Horatius┐ from The Lays of Ancient Rome (1842); Tennyson, ┐Ulysses┐ (1842); Matthew Arnold, ┐The Strayed Reveller┐ (1849), ┐Palladium┐ (1867), ┐Poetry and the Classics┐
(1853), ┐Hebraism and Hellenism┐ from Culture and Anarchy (1869); A.
C. Swinburne, ┐Anactoria┐ (1866), ┐The Last Oracle┐ (1878)
Week 7: Medievalism: Tennyson, ┐The Lady of Shalott┐ (1833), ┐Sir Galahad┐ (1842), ┐The Passing of Arthur┐ from Idylls of the King (1869); William Morris, ┐The Defence of Guenevere┐, ┐King Arthur┐s Tomb┐, ┐Sir Galahad, A Christmas Mystery┐ from The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858)
Week 8: The Renaissance: Robert Browning, ┐My Last Duchess┐ (1842), ┐Pictor Ignotus┐ (1845), ┐The Bishop Orders his Tomb┐ (1845), ┐Fra Lippo Lippi┐ (1855), ┐Andrea del Sarto┐ (1855), ┐A Grammarian┐s Funeral┐ (1855); and Walter Pater, The Renaissance (1873)
Week 9: Arts, Crafts, and Architectures: A. W. N. Pugin, Contrasts (1836); John Ruskin, ┐The Nature of Gothic,┐ from The Stones of Venice (1853); William Morris, ┐The Lesser Arts┐ (1877), ┐Gothic Architecture┐ (1889)
Week 10: Translating the Past: Matthew Arnold, On Translating Homer (1861); Edward Fitzgerald, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1859)
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Additional Primary Reading

Extracts from a selection of contemporary authors will be made available via Learn.

Secondary Texts

Blakesley, Rosalind, The Arts and Crafts Movement (2006)
Bowler, Peter, The Invention of Progress: The Victorians and the Past (1989)
Brooks, Chris, The Gothic Revival (1999)
Bryden, Inga, Reinventing King Arthur: The Arthurian Legends in Victorian Culture (2005)
Burrow, J. W., Evolution and Society (1966)
---, A Liberal Descent: Victorian Historians and the English Past (1981)
Chandler, Alice, A Dream of Order: The Medieval Ideal in Nineteenth-Century English Literature (1971)
Chancellor, Valerie, History for Their Masters: Opinion in the English History Textbook, 1800-1914 (1970)
Dellheim, Charles, The Face of the Past: The Preservation of the Medieval Inheritance in Victorian Britain (1982/2004)
Dorson, Richard Mercer, The British Folklorists: A History (1968)
Freeman, Michael, Victorians and the Prehistoric (2004)
Gilmour, Robin, The Victorian Period (1993)
Girouard, Mark, The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman (1981)
Goldhill, Simon, Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity: Art, Opera, Fiction, and the Proclamation of Modernity (2011)
Jann, Rosemary, The Art and Science of Victorian History (1985)
Jenkyns, Richard, The Victorians and Ancient Greece (1980)
Lambourne, Lionel, Victorian Painting (1999)
Orel, Harold, The Historical Novel from Scott to Sabatini: Changing Attitudes Toward a Literary Genre, 1814-1920 (1995)
Kuper, Adam, The Invention of Primitive Society (1988)
Levine, Philippa, The Amateur and the Professional: Antiquarians, Historians and Archaeologists in Victorian England 1838-1886 (1986)
Mitchell, Rosemary, Picturing the Past: English History in Text and Image 1830-1870 (2000)
Sanders, Andrew, The Victorian Historical Novel, 1840-1880 (1978)
Shaw, Harry E., The Forms of Historical Fiction: Sir Walter Scott and His Successors (1983)
Simmons, Clare, Reversing the Conquest: History and Myth in Nineteenth- Century British Literature (1990)
Stocking, George, Victorian Anthropology (1987)
Strong, Roy, And When Did You Last See Your Father?: The Victorian Painter and British History (1978/2004)
Vance, Norman, The Victorians and Ancient Rome (1997)
Wawn, Andrew, The Vikings and the Victorians: Inventing the Old North in Nineteenth-Century Britain (2000)
Wood, Christopher, Victorian Painting (1999)
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
Course organiserDr Anna Vaninskaya
Tel: (0131 6)50 4284
Course secretaryMs June Haigh
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
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