Prof. Florence S. Boos - 8:224 - Spring 2002

After some consideration of the social landscape of the 1830s and 40s, we will read and discuss a wide range of texts from early Victorian Britain--chiefly art criticism and social commentary, poetry and autobiographies, essays and fiction--and examine linguistic and psychological aspects of the poetry and autobiographies, social implications of the essays and art criticism, and aesthetic principles reflected in the fiction. We will also consider some of the ways in which region, class, gender and intended audience influenced these texts, and seek common motifs and modes of organization which may have crossed generic or class boundaries. The works to be read and discussed will include:

Art: John Ruskin, selections from The Seven Lamps of Architecture and Modern Painters; slides of Pre-Raphaelite art

Poetry: selections from the Broadview Anthology of Poetry and Poetic Theory, edited by Thomas Collins and Vivienne Rundle: Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, Dante Rossetti, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Augusta Webster, Matthew Arnold, Algernon Swinburne, Gerard Manley Hopkins; handouts from working-class poets, including Janet Hamilton and Samuel Laycock

Autobiographies: Ellen Johnston's Autobiography; The History of Mary Prince

Signs of the Times: Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy; J. S. Mill, On Liberty; Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto

Fiction: Charlotte Bronte, Villette; George Eliot, Felix Holt

I will ask students to post internet responses to the readings, and write two or three shorter papers or one long (25 page) critical essay.

Books at IMU:

Thomas Collins and Vivienne Rundle, eds. Victorian Poetry and Poetic Theory

William Buckler, ed. Victorian Prose

Charlotte Bronte, Villette

George Eliot, Felix Holt

Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince, ed. Moira Ferguson

Walter Pater, Marius the Epicurean

Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill, The Negro Question

Handouts: selections from John Ruskin’s Modern Painters, autobiographies by Ellen Johnston and Elizabeth Campbell, poems by Edwin Waugh and Janet Hamilton.

Assignments: You are asked to submit three examples of written work. 1. a journal of reading responses in the form of web discussion--please post one page each week, for a total of 14 mini-essays. These may be informal, and should consist of your thoughts on one or more of our readings. Several of them should also respond (politely) to ideas of your fellow students, or give an overview of your ideas on topics of the course thus far. 2. two 8 + page essays (or one 16+ page essay), developing your view on a literary topic of the period in the context of available criticism and historical sources. If you choose to write two papers, the first paper will be due directly before spring break, and the second at the beginning of May. You should give me a title, abstract and short bibliography for the first paper by March 1st, and for the second, by April 15th.

If you wish to give me a draft for comments, please do so by the preceding class period; or in the case of the longer essay, the preceding week.


January 23 W introduction

Art, Poetics, Pre-Raphaelitism

for next time, read Tennyson, “The Kracken,” “Hesperides,” “The Lady of Shalott,” “The Palace of Art,” “Lotus Eaters,” “Ulysses,” “Morte d’ Arthur,” “Break, Break, Break”; W. J. Fox, essay on Tennyson’s poetry.

background reading: R. Martin, C. Ricks, J. Buckley, L. Hughes, H. Tucker

January 29 M discussion of Tennyson

January 31 W Pre-Raphaelite slides

February 4 M Tennyson, “In Memoriam”

February 6 W Tennyson, Arthurian poems

February 11 M Ruskin, selections from Modern Painters

February 13 W Ruskin, “The Nature of Gothic”

February 18 M Christina Rossetti, “Goblin Market,” “In an Artist’s Studio”

February 20 W Dante G. Rossetti, “The Blessed Damozel,” “The Portrait,” “The Woodspurge,” sonnets on paintings

February 25 M Robert Browning, “Fra Lippo Lippi”

February 27 W library resources with Kathy Magarell

Victorians Abroad: Race and Empire

March 4 M Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince

March 6 W Special Collections with David Schoonover

March 11 M Carlyle and Mill, The Negro Question

March 13 W Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point,” “A Curse for a Nation”

spring break

The Victorians and Other Cultures: Europe

March 25 M Charlotte Bronte, Villette

March 27 W Villette

April 1 M Villette

April 3 W Villette

April 8 M D. G. Rossetti, “The House of Life”

April 10 W Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Mother and Son,” Robert Browning, “Pompilia”

April 15 M “Pompilia” Class and Gender

April 17 W William Morris, “The Defence of Guenevere” and other poems from The Defence

April 22 M George Eliot, Felix Holt

April 24 W Felix Holt

April 29 Arnold, Culture and Anarchy

May 1 Marx and Engels, selections

May 6 Felix Holt May 8 working-class poets; Waugh and Hamilton; working-class memoirs, Johnston and Campbell

final meeting during exam week; final paper due.