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"Order of Release" By John Everett Millais

Victorian Fiction--Spring 2014

Professor Florence S. Boos

Throughout the semester we will read compelling and influential works of nineteenth-century fiction, and consider ways in which these embodied features of Victorian life and sensibility. In particular, we will discuss how Victorian fiction  reflected patterns of marriage and family structure, class differences, forms of work and religious practice, views of art, urbanization, colonial empire, and efforts at social reform.

In the process, we will also consider questions of style, form, narrative sequence, authorial voice, modes of publication and intended audience(s), and changing tastes in critical reception.

I will ask students to read our texts with care and submit reading responses before each class session, participate actively in class discussions, provide background biographical information, contribute to a group project exploring some aspect of one of our texts, and submit two six-eight page essays. Some of our novels are quite long; students are advised not to enroll unless they are able to devote considerable time to these readings.

Course texts will include:

  • Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton
  • Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
  • Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native
  • Charlotte Bronte, Villette
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch
  • Olive Schreiner, Story of An African Farm
  • Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Dorian Gray

For English majors, AREA: Modern British Literature and Culture; PERIOD: 18th- and/or 19th-Century Literature