Studies in British and American Authors

11:15a-12:30p MW (30) 3 cr.


This course considers the history of the Victorian novel alongside that of another great institution, that of the British home. We will consider "home" as an ideal and an object of desire and fantasy in British fiction and culture: as an imaginative construction. But we will also look into the material history of the home and the house, and think about the ways the realities of Victorian architecture, social planning, gender ideology, colonialism, and class structure may have complicated or been at odds with the ideal or fantasy of home. The fictional Victorian homes we'll consider will range from the modest and cozy (Wemmick's miniature castle in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations) to the impoverished (the Manchester workers' homes in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton) to the cursed, haunted, and/or imposingly grand (Dickens's Satis House, Thornfield Hall in Charlotte Brontė's Jane Eyre, Emily Brontė's Wuthering Heights, Grandcourt's estate in George Eliot's Daniel Deronda). Poetry and essays by such authors as Coventry Patmore, Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Ruskin, and Sarah Strickland Ellis will provide additional material for our investigation into the ideologies and representations ofVictorian domesticity. We will also consider the afterlife of the Victorian novel's imagination of home in a couple of twentieth-century texts: E.M. Forster's Howards End and one work of postcolonial fiction. Assignments will include two formal papers, a number of shorter response papers, and a midterm and final.