ENGL3161: Victorian Literatures and Cultures

3 CreditsEthical and Civic ResponsibilityLiterature

Why is the twenty-first century so obsessed with the nineteenth? From steampunk to political rhetoric, from movies to sex, writers and artists look back to the Victorian era for inspiration and challenge. One reason might be that Britain was the first country to experience the full effects of industrialized capitalism, with the opportunities and misery that it created. It also developed one of the largest empires in history, an empire whose legacy continues to shape global politics in good and bad ways. For all these reasons, understanding the Victorians is key to understanding ourselves.Women writers like Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot have always been at the center of Victorian studies, so the history and politics of gender are vital to Victorian literature. Class likewise remains inescapable in Victorian fiction with its sharp sense of a world divided into haves and have nots; depictions of the catastrophic effects of the factory system on the urban poor pervade Victorian literature and challenge readers to ponder how, and if, reading might lead to political action. Race has increasingly reshaped understandings of the literature of the period; although Britain abolished slavery in 1833-34, the period saw both a heightening of racist rhetoric and representation and the growth of a market for works by writers of color from the colonies, including Mary Seacole, J. J. Thomas, and Toru Dutt. Digital tools have made the present moment an exciting one in which to study this literature because so much information is now available: Victorian writing has become hyperaccessible for those with access to computers. For this class, this accessibility means that students have the opportunity not just to learn exiting knowledge about the period but to discover new truths about it for themselves. This course aims to empower students to find their own paths to understanding and representing the Victorians as a way of revising how they see their present.

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A- Average (3.774)Most Common: A (68%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

84 students
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