L335 27012 VICTORIAN LITERATURE
12:20p-1:10p MWF (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.
TOPIC: "Victorian Exile"
This course has two main objectives: to explore and interpret a number of key texts from the Victorian period, and to develop and refine those interpretations through discussion and writing. We will therefore be studying a wide range of texts--poetry, essay, drama, and the novel--in order to discern their generic and formal features as well as their historical, cultural, and artistic preoccupations.
Our overarching focus for the semester will be on the idea of exile. Although the stereotype we often receive of the Victorians is one of great insularity--the cozy home, the regulated lives, the championing of interior emotions--the Victorian period was a time of immense change: technology and industry, the growth of cities, colonial expansion and possessiveness, and scientific erosion of religious orthodoxy (to name but a few) all helped contribute to a sense of fragmentation and estrangement. How did this feeling get transformed in Victorian literature? How did it register on a personal, or psychological, level as well as on a national one? Can exile be productive? What is the difference between exile and independence? And how does this idea of separation provide a way of reading the Victorian interest in sentiment and nostalgia? As these questions intimate, I hope to look at exile not just as a literal representation in Victorian literature but as a profoundly symbolic rubric.
In addition to a number of shorter works--poetry and prose--our readings will likely include: poetry by Browning, C. Rossetti, and Barrett Browning; Tennyson's Idylls of the King; Dickens's Great Expectations; Pre-Raphaelite poetry and painting; Brontė's Wuthering Heights; Charles and Weedon Grossmith's Diary of a Nobody; Housman's A Shropshire Lad; and Barrie's Peter Pan.