ENGL 528 A: Victorian Literature

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
ART 006
LaPorte photo
Charles LaPorte

Syllabus Description:

Professor Charles LaPorte (laporte@u.washington.edu)

Aut Qtr 2021

ENGL 528 Victorian Literature & Culture (5, max. 15)

MW 1:30-3:20 // ART 006

Office Hours: MW 3:30-4:00, TH 1-2 on Zoom (please email for link)

Victorian literature represents the final stage of what we might call "middle modernity," featuring the rise of mass literacy and new ideas of human rights (particularly women's rights and children's rights), of industrialization, of imperialism, and of secularization.  This course introduces students to the fiction, non-fiction prose, and poetry of the era.  It likewise aims to introduce students to some of the vibrant critical conversations that have driven the field of Victorian studies for the past 25 years or so.  We will pay special attention to the enduring legacy of literary Romanticism and to what the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu calls the fields of cultural production.



Course grades will be determined by course participation, a brief (7 min) presentation on a topic of relevance to course discussion, a short research assignment to familiarize yourself with some of our databases, and a final paper of 10-12 pages.


The paper is designed to be approximately conference length, and indeed might best be thought of as a polished draft for a conference presentation.  You will need to turn in a 350-word abstract and a bibliography for this paper by 11/10.


The short research assignment will be in the form of a short review of a contemporary review of a piece of nineteenth-century literature, the aim of which is to encourage you to poke around on our amazing library databases for historical period research.  This will be due in a few weeks, on 10/15.



* Broadview Anthology of British Literature, 3rd Ed. Volume 5: The Victorian Era [BABL]

(ISBN 9781554814916)

* Thomas Carlyle, A Carlyle Reader (Copley: ISBN 1-58390-008-X)

* Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native (Oxford: ISBN 9780199537044)

* Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (Penguin 9780140434088)

* George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara (Penguin: ISBN 9780140437904)

* Extra readings will be available on Canvas (Canvas)



Proposed Schedule:

Week 1: 

Sept 29: Intro; Jane Eyre and the study of historical literatures


Week 2: 

Oct 4: Charlotte Brontë, all from BABL; Emily Brontë, all from BABL; Alfred Tennyson, "Mariana," “The Palace of Art,” "The Lady of Shalott," "The Lotus-Eaters," "Ulysses," "St. Simeon Stylites"; Armstrong, “Rereading Victorian Poetry” (Canvas); [Recommended: Gilbert and Gubar “A Dialogue of Self and Soul  (Canvas)]

Presentation: Ireland enters UK (w/ limited rights for Catholic majority) {Yixuan}


Oct 6:

 Mary Prince, all from BABL; Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "The Cry of the Children," "To George Sand" (both), "Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point," from Sonnets from the Portuguese, “A Curse for a Nation”; LaPorte, “Victorian Lit, Religion, and Secularization”(Canvas);  Juliet Shields, “From Slave Narrative to Migrant Narrative” (Canvas) [Recommended: Marjorie Stone, “EBB and the Garrisonians” (Canvas)]


Presentation: Great Reform Bill and Catholic Emancipation

Presentation: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Presentation: founding of London University


Week 3:

Oct 11:  Thomas Carlyle: Sartor Resartus through Book II, ch 8; Pierre Bourdieu, from The Field of Cultural Production (Canvas);

Presentation: First Chinese Opium War {Kexin}


Oct 13:; Carlyle: Sartor Resartus to end; Taylor, A Secular Age (Canvas)

Presentation: Oxford Movement {Molly}

Presentation: Chartism


Oct 15: *500-word Review Review Due* on Canvas


Week 4:  

Oct 18: Alexander Smith, from A Life-Drama (CP); Grace Aguilar from BABL

Presentation: The Great Exhibition {Mica}

Presentation: Continental Revolutions of 1848

Presentation: Founding of Queens College London, Girton & Newnham Colleges


Oct 20: Mary Seacole, all from BABL; Tennyson “Charge of the Light Brigade”;  Robert Browning, “Porphyria’s Lover” “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister,” “Love Among the Ruins” “Fra Lippo Lippi” “Andrea del Sarto” “Caliban upon Setebos”; Hack, “Wild Charges” (Canvas) [Recommended, Li Liu, “The Term Question in China”]

Presentation: Crimean War {Tom}

Presentation: Indian Uprising of 1857 {Mathilde}


Week 5:  

Oct 25: Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone (through First Period).  Priti Joshi, from Empire News (Canvas)

Presentation: Second Opium War

Presentation: Origins & Evolution of Detective Fiction {Ami}


Oct 27: Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone (through Second Period, Third Narrative). Felski “Enchantment” (Canvas)

Presentation: Contagious Diseases Act of 1864  {Kathleen}


Week 6: 

Nov 1: Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone; McKelvy “The Importance of Being Ezra” (Canvas)


Presentation: Second Reform Bill


Nov 3: BABL Contexts “Women in Society” & “Nature & the Environment”; W. R. Greg, “False Morality of Lady Novelists” (Canvas)

Presentation: Preraphaelitism

Presentation: Married Women's Property Act


Week 7:  

Nov 8: Matthew Arnold from The Function of Criticism at the Present Time; Wilde, from The Critic as Artist; Hofer & Scharnhorst, Oscar Wilde in America (Canvas); Sagner Buurma & Heffernan, “The Common Reader & the Archival Classroom”  (Canvas)


Nov 10: John Ruskin from The Stones of Venice C. Rossetti from BABL; Michael Field all from BABL; [paper topics discussion]


Sunday, Nov 14, We'll attend UW's production of The Importance of Being Earnest (at Jones Playhouse, 4045 University Way NE)

Week 8: 

Nov 15: Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (BABL)


Nov 17:  Thomas Hardy: Return of the Native, Books 1 & 2;

**Abstracts & Bibliographies Due: 350 words**


Week 9:

Nov 22: Hardy, Return of the Native, Books 3 & 4; Ayşe Çelikkol, “Capitalism in the Pastoral Mode” (Canvas)


Nov 24: No Class: Thanksgiving Break


Week 10:

Nov 29: Thomas Hardy: Return of the Native, Books 5 & 6

Dec 1:  Mona Caird, "The Morality of Marriage" (Canvas); G. M. Hopkins from BABL; Toru Dutt from BABL + Dutt file on Canvas with Gosse's "Introductory Memoir" and material from Mary Ellis Gibson's Indian Angles (Canvas) , Sarojini Naidu from BABL  [Recommended: if you have time, also look at the New Woman section of the BABL, which includes Sarah Grand and Mona Caird.]



Week 11:

Dec 6:  Benjamin,"Theses on on the Philosophy of History" (Canvas); Jager from MLQ (Canvas)


Dec 8:  from Nineteenth-Century History of English Studies letters to Pall Mall Gazette (canvas)



***Final Paper Due Date: 12/12 @ 5PM***





Last updated: 
April 13, 2021 - 8:22am