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"Order of Release" By John Everett Millais

Victorian Fiction

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, participate actively in class discussions, post several summaries and interpretive responses on the course’s web site, and write two six-eight page essays. Some of our novels are quite long; students are not advised to enroll unless they are able to devote considerable time to these readings.

Course texts will include:

  • Elizabeth Gaskell, “Lois the Witch,” Mary Barton
  • Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch
  • Rudyard Kipling, Kim
  • Margaret Oliphant, “The Open Door”
  • William Morris, News from Nowhere
  • Ella Hepworth Dixon, The Story of a Modern Woman
  • Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Study in Scarlet”

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