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Module QXE-3102:
The 1820s: Print Explosion

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Maureen McCue

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To examine the effects that print technology had on both the publishing market and society in 1820s Britain
  2. To extend students’ knowledge of both canonical and non-canonical texts from the late Romantic period
  3. To provide students with a conceptual framework in which to understand the relationship between literature and its context
  4. To extend students’ skills in textual analysis by providing them the opportunity to express these in a written mode

Course content

The early nineteenth century was a period of radical social and intellectual change that also witnessed an explosion in new forms of print culture, from the ‘serious’ historical novels of Walter Scott through to the supposedly light reading of the Christmas gift book, or annual. This module concentrates on a single decade – the 1820s – in order to explore the emergence of several of these new forms, including, for example, the illustrated political satire of William Hone and the other post-Peterloo radicals, the playful critical essays of Hazlitt and Lamb (associated with an emergent magazine culture), and the new forms of writing about the self in the ‘confessions’ of De Quincey and Hogg. This module investigates a range of canonical texts (which may include Byron’s mock-epic Don Juan; an example of Scott’s ‘Waverley’ novels; and the Confessions of an English Opium-Eater), while placing them in the context of less familiar works (such as Pierce Egan’s illustrated novel, Life in London, the short stories of The Keepsake, and John Clare’s manuscript poems). This combination of canonical and understudied popular texts raises important questions about the relationship between image and text, literature and politics, the individual and society, questions still prevalent in our own age.

Assessment Criteria


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


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


Typically, the work of a first class candidate 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

Learning outcomes

  1. A critical understanding of how developments in print technology and the publishing market both shaped and reflected British society in the 1820s

  2. An increasingly subtle understanding of both canonical and non-canonical texts from the late Romantic period

  3. Knowledge of the importance of the dynamic relationship between literary texts and their contexts

  4. Developed skills in analysis and in the expression of an argument in written form.

Assessment Methods

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Study group 11
Private study 167
Seminar 22

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.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • 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
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in


Courses including this module

Optional in courses: