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

Postgraduate Course: Great Victorian Novel (ENLI11274)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is designed to offer an introduction to the novel during a key period of its development. While students have encountered some of the chosen novelists during the earlier years of their degrees, this Core Course will permit a more intensive engagement with the novel as a literary form. The choice of texts will encourage seminar discussion on major topics of critical enquiry in relation to the Victorian novel: these will include, but are not limited to, the continuing influence of the gothic on the novel, sensation fiction, the place of women in the novel, the Condition of England novel, the provincial and rural novel, the place of empire in the novel, and the influence of new scientific and intellectual ideas on the novel. The 'Great Victorian Novel' course provides students with an exciting opportunity to read and analyse some of the most invigorating and important works of English literature.
Course description Like drama in the early modern period, and poetry in the Romantic era, the novel is the dominant form of writing in the Victorian age. Just as those earlier periods produced important, influential, and lasting works of drama and verse, so the Victorian era brought about similar developments in relation to the novel. While the novel in its modern form had existed in English for over one hundred years before Dickens published his earliest work, he and his fellow Victorians vastly extended the potential and the popularity of this literary mode. This course is designed to enable students to understand why and how the novel occupied such a central role in literary culture at this time. By reading and analysing the work of such major Victorian writers such as Dickens, the Brontës, and George Eliot, students will have the opportunity to understand how the novel became, and continues to be, the dominant form of writing in the English language.

The choice of course texts is designed to inspire discussion of a wide variety of topics relevant to the Victorian period and beyond. These will include, but are not limited to, the continuing influence of the gothic on the novel, sensation fiction, the place of women in the novel, the Condition of England novel, the provincial and rural novel, the place of empire in the novel, and the influence of new scientific and intellectual ideas on the novel. The core texts on this course allow a balanced discussion of these key topics, and will ensure that debates begun in individual seminars will then develop over the course as a whole. Students will therefore be permitted to follow individual topic threads which they may take forward into their written work for this course and beyond. This course will also include, where appropriate, critical and theoretical reading on the Victorian novel. The critical material on the course will include a range of important historical criticism by writers, alongside more recent analytical work.

The course is assessed by one piece of written work submitted after the teaching block is completed. Preparation for seminars will involve reading core texts and secondary critical material. In addition, students will complete autonomous learning group tasks each week. Seminars themselves will involve individual as well as group discussion, the latter focused upon responses to ALG work.

The Victorian novel was written to entertain and inform a vast potential audience and this course will permit students to understand how these twin imperatives were realised.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% Coursework «br /»
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One Essay x 4000 words
Feedback Written feedback will be provided on the assignment, and additional verbal feedback will be available from the course organiser if requested by the student.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. carry out independent reading of Victorian novels and their criticism.
  2. critically analyse Victorian prose, taking into account the formal and aesthetic dimensions of the Victorian novel.
  3. show knowledge of, and critically reflect on, the historical contexts of, and demonstrate competence in essay-writing. The feedback offered on the two essays written for the course will allow students to perfect their ability to develop sound and persuasive arguments.
  4. to carry out independent reading of Victorian novels and their criticism. These skills will then be used in future for effective reading of creative and critical prose texts.
  5. to collaborate with peers in group work. The ALG work undertaken for this course, together with the other group work taken on, will allow students to develop their skills in this area.  
Reading List

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847)

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847)

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, (1851)

Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (1855)

Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (1860)

George Eliot, Middlemarch (1872)

Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd (1874)

Further Reading:

Richard D. Altick,'The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900 (1957)

Nina Auerbach,'Woman and the Demon: the Life of a Victorian Myth'(1982)

Gillian Beer,'Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot, and Nineteenth Century Fiction'(1983)

Patrick Brantlinger,'Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830-1914'(1988)

Daniel Brown, Representing Realists in Victorian Literature and Criticism (2016)

J.B. Bullen, ed.,'Writing and Victorianism'(1997)

John Christie and Sally Shuttleworth, eds,'Nature Transfigured: Science and Literaure, 1700-1900 (1989)

Monica Cohen,'Professional Domesticity in the Victorian Novel: Women Work and Home (1998)

Tess Cosslett, ed.,'The 'Scientific Movement' and Victorian Literature (1982)

Deirdre David, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel (2013)

Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth, The English Novel in History, 1840-1895 (1996)

Dennis Denisoff, ed., The Routledge Companion to Victorian Literature (2020)

Kate Flint, ed., The Victorian Novelist: Social Problems and Social Change (2016)

Kate Flint,'The Woman Reader, 1837-1914'(1993)

Elaine Freedgood, Worlds Enough: the Invention of Realism in the Victorian Novel (2019)

Catherine Gallagher,'The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction: Social Discourse and Narrative Form, 1832-1867'(1985)

Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (1979)

Robin Gilmour, The Novel in the Victorian Age: A Modern Introduction (1986)

Robin Gilmour,'The Victorian Period: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature, 1830-1890 (1993)

Helsinger, Sheets and Veeder,'The Woman Question: Society and Literature in Britain and America, 1837-1883'(1983)

Walter Houghton,'The Victorian Frame of Mind'(1965)

Juliet John, ed., The Oxford Book of Victorian Literary Culture (2016)

Juliet John and Alice Jenkins, ed.,'Rethinking Victorian Culture'(2000)

Patricia Ingham, The Language of Gender and Class: Transformation in the Victorian Novel (1996)

F.R. Leavis, The Great Tradition (1948)

George Levine, How to Read the Victorian Novel (2008)

Gail Marshall, Victorian Fiction (2002)

Michael Mason,'The Making of Victorian Sexuality (1994)

Jill L. Matus,'Unstable Bodies: Victorian Representations of Sexuality and Maternity'(1995)

Robert Mighall,'A Geography of Victorian Gothic Fiction: Mapping History's Nightmares'(1999)

Andrew Miller,'Novels Behind Glass: Commodity Culture and Victorian Narrative'(1995)

Francis O'Gorman. ed., The Victorian Novel (2002)

Francis O'Gorman, ed.,'The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Culture (2010)

Mary Poovey,'Uneven Developments: the Ideological Work of Gender in mid-Victorian England'(1989)

Edward Said,'Culture and Imperialism'(1994)

Richard Salmon,'The Formation of the Victorian Literary Profession'(2013)

Joanne Shattock, ed.,'The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1830-1914'(2010)

Linda M. Shires, ed,'Rewriting the Victorians: Theory History, and the Politics of Gender'(1992)

John Sutherland, Victorian Fiction: Writers, Publishers and Readers (1995)

Herbert Tucker, ed.,'A Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture'(1998; 2012)

Dennis Walder, ed., The Realist Novel (1996)

Raymond Williams,'Culture and Society (1958)

Raymond Williams,'The Country and the City (1973)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and understanding: students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate their detailed knowledge of the fields of the novel as a literary form, and of Victorian literature more generally. The students taking this course will be able to demonstrate their understanding of how a range of the principal concepts of literary analysis may be applied to the course material.

Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion and formal assessment tasks, students will have been able to practice the application of these concepts in their construction of arguments about the course material.

Generic Cognitive Skills: through group work and completing assessed essays, students will have practiced identifying, designing, conceptualising and analysing complex problems and issues germane to the discipline.

Communication: through participating in these tasks students will also have demonstrated the ability to communicate ideas and information about specialised topics in the discipline to an informed audience of their peers and subject specialists.

Autonomy and Working with Others: students will also have shown the capacity to work autonomously and in small groups on designated tasks, develop new thinking with their peers, and take responsibility for the reporting, analysis and defence of these ideas to a larger group.
KeywordsVictorian Novel,Gothic novel,Sensation novel,Condition of England novel,Empire.
Course organiserDr Jonathan Wild
Tel: (0131 6)51 3191
Course secretaryMrs Vivien MacNish Porter
Tel: (0131 6)50 3528
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