ENGL 335 A: English Literature: The Age Of Victoria

Victorian Culture and Counter-Culture

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 12:00pm - 2:10pm
RAI 121
Joseph Butwin
Joseph Butwin

Additional Details:

English 335 SU 2015 A-term Professor Butwin

Victorian Culture and Counter-Culture
What did your grandparents think when they heard the word “Victorian”? Just ask. It might come out like this: Victorians? a prudish, pompous, puritanical, blustering, bombastic, bellicose band of cut-throat capitalists and hypocrites. Another generation—your older siblings—might add that the Victorians were, to a man, sexist, racist, homophobic, imperialist ninnies and, of course, hypocrites. I won’t try to deny any of the above, but I would add that for most of the 19th century British poets, journalists, novelists, artists and cartoonists launched something like the same critique of a public that seemed both to detest and adore their critics. In 1895 when Oscar Wilde was the most popular playwright in London, he was thrown in jail for practicing what he seemed to preach. Not, in other words, a hypocrite. Thomas Hardy—the first millionaire author—quit writing novels when his Jude the Obscure—also 1895—was attacked in the press for what looked like an assault on marriage and a robust assertion of women’s rights. We will begin with R. L. Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—proof that the upright Victorian gent and his nasty double may live in the same skin and then move to Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray and Hardy’s Jude. Add a brief selection of poetry, prose argument and a few naughty visuals. Lecture, discussion, brief essays in and out of class.

R. L. Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) (Dover Thrift ISBN 0486266885)
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) (Signet Classics ISBN 97805153045-5
Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (1895) (Penguin Classics isbn 9780140435382)

Catalog Description: 
Examines literary works from Victorian Britain and its empire (1837-1901), paired with contemporary social, scientific, and historical developments such as industrialization; urbanization; child labor; imperial expansion; scientific ideas of evolution and geologic time; changing ideas of gender/sexuality; mass education and mass literacy; and the popularization of print media.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 11:28am