Rae Greiner

9:30a-10:45a TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

TOPIC: “Arrested Development: The Victorian Miniature”

This course is designed to introduce students to the “major poetry and prose” of a period in English literary history lasting from roughly 1830-1900. As you may know, this period—the “Victorian Era”— has largely been remembered for its fictions—long, sprawling, “triple-decker” novels—and celebrated most for its beloved novelists: Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy (to name a few). Because this class focuses on what are now commonly treated as the “minor literatures” of Victoria’s reign—the genres of poetry, essay, and drama—we’re going to take that “minorness” as our starting point and our central concern, asking not why literary history represents such texts as minor, but how and why the Victorians frequently chose to thematize themselves, their world, their art, or their understanding through the deployment of various forms of “minorness.” We’ll be looking closely at a number of such forms: the sketch, the fragment, the miniature, the likeness, the tale, the lyric, and the photograph. We’ll also be interested in representations of minorness as they appear in otherwise massive constructions, like the Crystal Palace—900,000 square feet of glass built to house such articles as perfume bottles and inkstands—or the seemingly endless elegiac poem (Tennyson’s In Memoriam). Key figures will include: Carlyle, the Brownings, Tennyson, Darwin, Dickens, Brontë, Gaskell, Ruskin, the Rossettis, Pater, and Wilde. We’ll read one novel (of scale), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and at least one play (Peter Pan).

Course texts: The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: the Victorian Era (Vol. 5); Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Penguin Classics); Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up (edition TBA); and various materials on E- Reserves.