Module QXE-2005:
Victorian Literature

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Karin Koehler

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To provide students with critical knowledge of Victorian texts from a range of genres including the novel, the essay, poetry, and drama.
  2. To promote students' knowledge of Victorian literature and culture, with particular emphasis on the mutual relationship between literary works and their broader cultural, economic, political, social, and material contexts.
  3. To analyse and discuss key themes, tropes, and aesthetic features of Victorian literature.
  4. To develop and strengthen students’ skills in (a) close reading and literary analysis, (b) written and oral communication, (c) independent research through critical engagement with print and digital resources, (d) time management through planning and submission of coursework.

Course content

The Victorians are both very strange and very familiar: simultaneously modern and traditional, democratic and elitist, innovative and conservative. They lived in a period of immense change, marked by internal conflicts and contradictions. Women and the working classes were fighting for improved rights and representation. Mechanised industry and imperial expansion created unprecedented wealth, but also provoked profound anxieties and trenchant criticism. Enthusiasm for scientific discoveries and new technologies clashed with nostalgic longing for the medieval past. On this module, we will read a selection of Victorian texts from across genres – including novels, short stories, long and short poems, and essays – to explore the above themes, along with: print culture; the development of (and challenges against) realism; the country and the city; class, industrialisation and social mobility; the women’s movement, women’s writing, and the 'New Woman'; gender and sexuality; the relationship between notions of scientific ‘truth’ and religious ‘faith’; education; ideas of nationality, race, and eugenics; late-Victorian Gothic; and imperialism and its critics.. Authors studied will vary from year to year, but will likely include: Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Elizabeth Barett Browning, Thomas Hardy, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Oscar Wilde.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Typically, work graded D- to D+ (or 40 to 49) will show many of the following qualities: • Unsure and lacking in confidence when discussing ideas • Referring to the subject in question in a superficial manner • Making an effort to provide fairly balanced answers • Some points in the argument irrelevant to the topic • Little evidence of background reading • Some uncertainty over language and syntax • Strengths and weaknesses fairly balanced; occasionally clumsy and unimaginative • In creative work: superficial • Not succeeding in mastering the requirements of the medium

good

Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas adeptly • Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired • Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant • Shows analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of relevant reading • Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. • A few minor errors here and there. • Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium • Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps

excellent

Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas adeptly • Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired • Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant • Shows analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of relevant reading • Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. • A few minor errors here and there. • Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium • Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps

C- to C+

Typically, work graded C- to C+ (or 50 to 59) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas, but without much confidence • A respectable effort but not showing any unusual talent; a few flashes of originality here and there • Makes reference to the subject in question, but some important matters not mentioned • Fairly clear thought on most occasions, and the arguments relevant on the whole • Evidence of having read some works associated with the field in question • Quite accurate expression, though the points may sometimes be presented clumsily • Signs of conscientious work deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: not having quite mastered the requirements of the medium • Evidence of planning in the answers, but a lack of coherence at times; undisciplined and unsure at times

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand and critically discuss the relationship between Victorian texts and their historic and cultural contexts.

  2. Understand the range and variety of genres employed by authors during this period, and critically discuss individual texts within their generic context.

  3. Apply appropriate literary and contextual theories to the study of individual authors and texts.

  4. Identify and critically analyse the significance of, and relationship between, key thematic and formal aspects of Victorian literary texts.

  5. Select, digest and organise material and produce a consistent and coherent argument, presented in essay form both to a deadline and under exam conditions.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Part 2: Portfolio Part 2: Primary Research + Research Question

All assessment on this course builds toward the final essay project, in which students will critically discuss a topic of their own choice, focusing on at least two texts studied on the module.

For this second assignment, students will be asked to (1) identify the primary text(s) on which they have chosen to write and to explain why they have chosen these texts in relation to their general topic area (ca. 100 words); (2) identify the genre(s) of their chosen text(s), and - drawing on relevant research - critically discuss how genre relates to the respective text's treatment of the topic (ca. 300 words); (3) find and critically discuss two contextual nineteenth-century sources (e.g. reviews, newspaper articles, correspondence, works of art). (ca. 300 words per source); (4) Formulate the research question for their final project and a provisional thesis statement.

25
ESSAY Part 3 Coursework Essay

All assessment on this course builds toward the final essay project, in which students will critically discuss a topic of their own choice, focusing on at least two texts studied on the module.

Students will write an essay that critically discusses at least two texts studied on the module in relation to a topic of their own choice, demonstrating relevant secondary research and an awareness of the relationship between texts and related historic contexts.

50
COURSEWORK Portfolio Part 1: Topic Research

All assessment on this course builds toward the final essay project, in which students will critically discuss a topic of their own choice, focusing on at least two texts studied on the module.

For this first assignment, students will be asked to identify and describe their general topic of research (50 words), i.e. a particular theme (such as 'social mobility', the 'fallen woman', 'scientific progress'), author, or genre--and to produce a literature review of four relevant peer-reviewed secondary sources (ca. 200 words words per source). The literature review should pay particular attention to identifying the argument of each source, to note any points of disagreement, and to explain how the source has changed, or enhanced, the student's understanding of the topic.

25

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
 

Discussion of reading questions on the module forum.

11
Seminar

1x1 hour seminar per week

11
Lecture

22 x1 hour lecture per week

22
Private study 156

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Rhetorical skills of effective communication and argument, both oral and written (English Benchmark Statement 2.3; 3.1.10; 3.2.5; 3.3.1; 3.3.6).
  • Sensitivity to generic conventions and to the shaping effects upon communication of circumstances, authorship, textual production and intended audience (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.8; 2.3.; 3.1.2; 3.2.3).
  • The capacity for independent thought and judgement; the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories and to interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.1.10; 3.2.2; 3.3.1; 3.3.7; 3.3.11).
  • Critical Skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of texts (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.6; 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.2.1; 3.3.1; 3.2.1; 3.3.8; 3.3.12).
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other writing and project work (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.6).
  • Conceptual skills developed by demonstration and discussion. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.2; 3.3.14; 3.3.17; 3.3.18; 3.3.19).
  • Study skills in researching concepts and contexts by directed reading. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.22; 3.3.23).
  • The ability to express ideas clearly in discussion and in organised written form. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.5; 3.2.7; 3.3.11; 3.3.15; 3.3.16; 3.3.21; 3.3.24).
  • The ability to situate texts in intertextual debate and as responses to and interventions in contemporary culture. (English Benchmark Statement 3.1.7; 3.1.10; 3.1.11; 3.2.3; 3.2.8).
  • Broad knowledge of a range of texts, genres, aesthetic forms and cultural practices, and the ability to produce close analysis of these and of the uses and implications of these approaches; an understanding of particular media forms and genres, and the way in which they organize understandings, meanings and affects (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.1; 3.1.1; 3.1.2; Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies benchmarks 4.1.5; 8.2.5).
  • Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).

Resources

Resource implications for students

In addition to the Norton Anthology, Vol. E, students will be expected to buy three novels, all of which are available in affordable paperback editions. The overall cost should amount to no more than £35.

Talis Reading list

http://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/qxe-2005.html

Reading list

The reading list will vary from year to year, but students should purchase the core text: Norton Anthology of Victorian Literature: Volume E: The Victorian Age, 10th edn.. This features many of the key texts we will study as part of the module.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: