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Introduction to the Victorian Novel

Level 1 (CQFW Level 4), 10 Credits.

Available Dates:

This course is currently not being offered in the academic year 2015 - 2016.

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This course aims to introduce students to both the Victorian novel and its cultural, social, literary and historical contexts. The Victorian period was typified by great change (in many formats), and this course will map and examine these transformations in three novels. Special attention will be paid to genre and forms of production, identity, representation, race, gender, and social class. We will also consider notions of crime and deviance. Students will engage in close reading and employ critical and theoretical approaches.

Syllabus Content:

Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre (1847)
Mary Elizabeth Braddon: Lady Audley’s Secret (1861-2)
Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)

Recommended editions are Penguin Classics or Oxford World’s Classics.

Students will be expected to purchase their own copies of the set texts. However, we recommend that you refrain from purchasing all the books on the list until it is established that the course is running.

Week 1            Introduction
Week 2            Jane Eyre
Week 3            Jane Eyre
Week 4            Jane Eyre
Week 5            Lady Audley’s Secret
Week 6            Lady Audley’s Secret
Week 7            Lady Audley’s Secret 
Week 8            Dracula
Week 9            Dracula
Week 10          Dracula and Question and Answer

Who is this course for?
Anyone with an interest in Victorian novels. On completion of the course students should be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of a range of novels and the historical, literary, and cultural contexts of the Victorian period. They should be able to draw comparisons and connections between the set texts and to articulate these through critical analysis and close reading skills.

Learning and Teaching

Learning and teaching are undertaken by means of small group work. This is a 10-credit course, so there will be two-hour meetings once a week (20 contact hours in all) which will include:
(a) lectures and seminars: these introduce the basic information to the students. Hence there will be basic seminar-style sessions with tutor leading with talk and PowerPoint presentations as basis for group discussion and questions and answers. Students will be invited to read up on relevant topics for homework including specific passages from the selected novels; and
(b) discussion and group work: where appropriate, students will work in small groups to reflect critically on set questions and to contribute their own ideas.

Coursework and Assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

There will be no formal examinations. There are two assessment choices for this course: (a) 3 x 500-word writing assignments (equally weighted), and (b) one essay of 1500 words at the end of the module (100%).

Your work will be assessed by your tutor, who will offer you written reports which we hope you will find constructive. The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are flexible and are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Reading suggestions

This is not a comprehensive list. The sections below work as guidelines to direct your further reading. You should also use the library databases and catalogues to build your own bibliographies.

Essential texts

Brantlinger, Patrick and William B. Thesing, eds, A Companion to the Victorian Novel (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002)
Eagleton, Terry, Literary Theory: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983)
Eagleton, Terry, The English Novel (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005)
Gilmour, Robin, The Novel in the Victorian Age: A Modern Introduction (London: Edward Arnold, 1986)
Levine, George, How to Read the Victorian Novel (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007)
O’Gorman, Francis, ed., A Concise Companion to the Victorian Novel (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005)
Purchase, Sean, Key Concepts in Victorian Literature (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Recommended texts

Altick, Richard D., The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900, 2nd edn. (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1998)
Auerbach, Nina, Woman and the Demon: The Life of a Victorian Myth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992)
Barreca, Regina, ed. Sex and Death in Victorian Literature (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990)
Belsey, Catherine, Critical Practice (London: Routledge, 1980)
Brantlinger, Patrick, Victorian Literature and Postcolonial Studies (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009)
David, Deirdre, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel (Cambridge: CUP, 2001)
Davis, Philip, ed., The Oxford English Literary HistoryThe Victorians Vol. 8, 1830-1880 (Oxford:            Oxford University Press, 2002)
Dolin, Kieran, Fiction and the Law: Legal Discourse in Victorian and Modernist Literature (Cambridge:     Cambridge University Press, 2009)
Ermarth, Elizabeth Deeds, Realism and Consensus in the English Novel (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983)
Faber, Richard, Proper Stations: Class in Victorian Fiction (London: Faber and Faber, 1971)
Hamilton, Susan, Criminals, Idiots, Women, and Minors: Victorian Writing By Women on Women (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2004)
Kaplan, Cora, Victoriana: Histories, Fictions, Criticism (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007)
Kucich, John, Repression in Victorian Fiction (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987)
——, The Power of Lies: Transgression in Victorian Fiction (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994)
Royle, Nicholas, and Andrew Bennett, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, 3rd edn (Harlow: Pearson Higher Education, 2004)
Walder, Dennis, Literature in the Modern World (Oxford: Open University Press, 1991)
Young, Arlene, Culture, Class and Gender in the Victorian Novel (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999)

Library and Computing Facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University library and computing facilities. You can find out more about these facilities on our website under Student Information, or by ringing the Centre on
(029) 2087 0000.

Accessibility of Courses

Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and Dyslexia screening. Please contact the Centre on (029) 2087 0000 for an information leaflet.

Further Information

A range of further information can be found on our web site or in Choices.  This includes the times and dates of courses and an explanation of accreditation and credit levels.