Exploring 19th-Century Lit
Exploring Nineteenth-Century Literature: Romantics and Victorians 2023-24
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 1
The long nineteenth-century—the period between 1789 and 1914—was defined by radical change: the transformation of political and economic structures; challenges to traditional sexual norms and gender roles; massive imperial expansion, accompanied by the emergence of anti-imperialist critiques; thrillingly new scientific ideas and shifting religious creeds and allegiances; and rapid developments in print culture. This module surveys the literature of a period that shaped modernity and the world as we know it. We will read a selection of canonical and non-canonical texts from across genres – including novels, short stories, long and short poems, and essays – and explore how they both shaped and reflected wider social and cultural concerns. Through a thematic focus on the ways in which nineteenth-century writers represented different types of spaces—from country houses to urban slums, from wuthering heights to blasted heaths, from factories to plantations—you will develop advanced insight into key aspects of the period’s literature, including: the relationship between rural and urban life; the representation of the natural world and the emergence of ecological thinking; industrialisation and its impact on political and social structures; colonisation, slavery, and imperialism; the links between literature and new scientific ideas, including Darwin’s evolutionary theories; the relationship between religious faith and doubt; the development of new ideas about sex, gender, and sexuality; and the expansion of the reading public and development of new literary forms and genres.
The module's syllabus will be updated each year, but students can expect to cover some of the following themes:
- Romantic and Victorian depictions of rural and urban life
- landscape, nature, and ecology
- colonialism and enslavement
- Industrialisation and its critiques
- class and status
- religious and scientific ideas
- the marriage plot
- gender roles and sexual conventions
- Victorian dystopia
Writers studied may vary from year to year, but are likely to include: William Wordsworth, John Clare, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy
Excellent Typically, work graded A- to A** (or 70 to 100) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas with confidence and precision • Demonstrates maturity and sophistication • Displays deep knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is totally relevant • Shows independent, analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of substantial and relevant reading • Shows great accuracy in expression, displaying total mastery over all aspects of the language • Shows occasional signs of brilliance and originality of thought • In creative work: displays considerable originality • Command over medium; may have potential for publication/production
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
Satisfactory 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
Pass 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
- Apply appropriate critical and historic material to support critical analysis of literary texts.
- Evaluate the relationship between nineteenth-century texts and their historic contexts, and critically discuss literary texts in relation to some of the period’s key cultural issues.
- Identify and analyse the literary strategies employed to address key themes in nineteenth-century literature.
- Identify and describe the principal genres employed by nineteenth-century authors.
Logbook Or Portfolio
Research Portfolio (2000 words) For this assessment, students will prepare a portfolio of secondary and primary research related to one of the module's core themes. They will identify, describe, and reflect on two nineteenth-century sources and two critical sources, explaining how these have shaped their knowledge and understanding of the chosen topic.
Essay Building on their work for the research portfolio, students will write an essay exploring their chosen theme in relation to two texts studied on the module, at least one of which will be taken from the second half of the course.
Essay Proposal Students will fill in the proposal questionnaire, which will include a provisional question and thesis statement, an indicative list of primary texts, an indicative list of sources, and a paragraph outline.