You are here

ENGL 212 A: Literature, 1700-1900

Weird Victorians

Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm
CDH 139
Jesse Oak Taylor smiling
Jesse Oak Taylor

Additional Details:

English 212a: Weird Victorians

The Victorian Age is often associated with social propriety, industrialization, and scientific progress. In literary history, it is often regarded as the golden age of the realist novel. But there is also a stranger, weirder side to Victorian literature. The other side of decorum is sexual repression, scientific progress also sparked anxiety about unnatural over-reach, industrialization generated wealth but it also fed on poverty, Darwin’s theory of evolution via natural selection also raised the specter of extinction. And, in literary terms, the fat tomes depicting social conditions and everyday, middle class life were juxtaposed against stranger tales slanting into Gothic, science and detective fiction, and the fantastic. Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Alice and the White Rabbit, and Sherlock Holmes have stepped beyond the pages that produced them and become a kind of modern mythology. In this course, we will explore this world of the “weird Victorians.” In the process, we will examine the way that literature shapes and responds to social and ecological anxiety, ranging from class difference, to gender and sexuality, to evolution and species being. We will pay particular attention to ways that these strange and fantastical tales construct the conditions of possibility that enable the apparently impossible or unnatural events that they depict to take place. These conversations, in turn, will help shed light on the way that the stories we tell shape our perceptions of reality and our conceptions of the possible.

Course texts will include:

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818). Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780199537150

George Eliot, The Lifted Veil (1859). Penguin. ISBN: 9780140435177

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Penguin. ISBN: 9780141439761

Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). Oxford. ISBN:             9780199536221

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). Harvard. ISBN: 9780674066311

H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (1895). Penguin. 9780141439976

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902). Penguin. ISBN: 9780140437867

Catalog Description: 
Introduces eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, focusing on representative works that illustrate literary and intellectual developments of the period. Topics include: exploration, empire, colonialism, slavery, revolution, and nation-building. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 3:58pm