The Victorian Novel and the Problem of Empire
By the end of Victoria’s reign, nearly one-fifth of the world’s population was governed, in various forms, by Britain--hence the famous adage: “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” This expansive empire made Britain the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth in the nineteenth century, but it also produced an imperial culture beset with ambivalence, conflict, and fear. This class will explore certain overarching themes (e.g. empire, national/imperial/colonial identity) in connection with various potentially problematic issues and concepts (e.g. freedom, citizenship, race) as they are taken up in thee exciting Victorian novels: Wilkie Collins’ /The Moonstone/, Bram Stoker’s /Dracula/, and Joseph Conrad’s /Heart of Darkness/. Students will be expected to engage critically with course topics and readings, both in class and through the composition of academic papers.