8:7500 Seminar: Victorian Women Writers
Autobiography and Social Commentary
Syllabus • Assignments • ICON
This course will examine literary works composed by Victorian women of different temperaments and circumstances, considering the relationship between memoirs, social reality, and the ways in which the latter were represented and transmuted in their writings. We will consider recent feminist and other approaches to our works, historical accounts of women’s lives during the period, literary and generic cross-influences, circumstances of publication and reception, and rhetorical and formal aspects of each text. We will discuss the changes in style and tone between women’s literature of the 1840s/50s and that of the fin de siècle, as well as the wider effects of this great outpouring on the literary culture of the period.
Memoirs: autobiographies by Elizabeth Olney and Margaret Oliphant.
Fiction: Elizabeth Gaskell, Ruth; Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, ; George Eliot, Felix Holt; Frances Trollope, Michael Armstrong, Factory Boy, Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm; and short fiction as time permits.
Essays: Emily Davies, Augusta Webster, Anna Jameson, Janet Hamilton, Eleanor Marx; Caroline Norton; Frances Power Cobbe; Mona Caird.
Poetry: selections from Augusta Webster, including "Mother and Daughter; Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, Christina Rossetti, "Monna Innominata," and others.
Students will be asked to lead one or more class discussions, post responses to readings on ICON, and prepare a final 15 page paper on a topic of their choice.