Course Description

Course Name

Victorian Literature

Session: VDNS3121

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Poetry and prose written between 1837 and 1900, including the themes and modes of minor writers as well as major novelists and poets.
This paper will serve as a wide-ranging introduction to Victorian literature. Though we will devote much time to major canonical figures like Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning and will become familiar with important literary forms such as the dramatic monologue, we will also consider lesser-known writers and literary styles. Victorian culture is often described as conservative, insular and even xenophobic; this paper will test that description by considering works that showcase male and female Victorian writers actively engaged with social issues, political movements, scientific discoveries and historical events from all over the world.

Learning Outcomes
-A familiarity with significant writers, literary themes and literary genres of the Victorian era (1837-1901)
-An understanding of the historical and social contexts that helped shape Victorian literature
-Mastery of research skills required for advanced inquiry into 19th-century British literature

Course Structure
All material presented here is subject to change.

Weekly Overview
-Week 1: Introduction; poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson
-Week 2: poetry of Matthew Arnold; prose of Henry Mayhew
-Week 3: Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
-Week 4: poetry of Robert Browning and the Rossettis
-Week 5: Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South
-Week 6: Library research sessions
-Week 7: Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
-Week 8: poetry of the Rossettis and Augusta Webster
-Week 9: Thomas Hardy, Mayor of Casterbridge
-Week 10: poetry of Amy Levy and Gerard Manley Hopkins
-Week 11: Edmund Gosse, Father and Son
-Week 12: poetry from Australia and New Zealand; Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
-Week 13: poetry of Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Hardy; review


Internal Assessment: 60%
-Final Annotated Bibliography (25%) and Research Essay (25%)

A major research project in which students conduct focused research on a topic in Victorian literature, create an annotated bibliography based on that research and then write an essay further exploring the topic.

-Recitation (10%)

Each student must memorise three Victorian-era sonnets or passages of equal length (ie at least 14 lines of iambic pentameter) from longer poems. All works must come from course handouts or the course reader. Students must choose three different poets (ie you cannot memorise three works by Tennyson).

Final Examination: 40%
-All students must take a two-hour exam during the exam period

Brontë, Emily.Wuthering Heights (Penguin)
Gaskell, Elizabeth. North and South (Penguin)
Dickens, Charles.Great Expectations (Penguin)
Hardy, Thomas.The Mayor of Casterbridge (Penguin)
Gosse, Edmund.Father and Son (Penguin)
James, Henry.The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers (Penguin)
Course Reader (available from Print Shop)

*Course content subject to change