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Victorianism Module, Spring 2003

This page contains the assignments from the Victorianism module "Victorianism and the Problem of Art in an Industrial Age" with links to the online readings and to supporting materials.

Wednesday, February 26

  • "The Victorian Age" (anthology 1008)

    • Although its materials are of inconsistent depth and quality, The Victoria Web remains the best Internet source for general information on the Victorian period.

Like the first class day of the last module, this one will include a broad introduction to the period and time for questions.

Friday, February 28

Group II Response: Do an open response or concentrate on a way in which the natural environment of the poem or its formal characteristics reflect the situations Tennyson describes.

Monday, March 3

  • Hemans, "Casabianca" (1829, anthology 819) and "Indian Woman's Death-Song" (1828, anthology 829)

  • Tricia Lootens, "Hemans and Home: Victorianism, Feminine 'Internal Enemies', and the Domestication of National Identity." PMLA 109 (March 1994): 238-53.

    • Nan Sweet, a scholar who does excellent work on Hemans, has put a chronology and a bibliography online.

    • Another prominent Hemans scholar (Hemansian?), Susan Wolfson, has recently completed an excellent edition of Hemans's work, and you can see the useful introduction here.

Group III Response: Bring up a point from Lootens's article that you find particularly compelling or troublesome and relate that point specifically to one of the assigned poems.

Wednesday, March 5

  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from Aurora Leigh (1856, anthology excerpts 1112)

    • There is a brief biography of Barrett Browning on the [Robert] Browning Pages by Matthew Jolly, a graduate student at Arizona State. No full-scale scholarly web site on Barrett Browning exists, though the Victorian Web does collect a lot of tidbits on its page for Aurora Leigh. Remember here especially and throughout these pages that most of the best information resides in print in the library.

Group IV Response: Perhaps using the texts of this class as a field of reference, discuss Barrett Browning's use of literary authority and tradition in the assigned reading.

Friday, March 7

  • Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, book IX (1856)

Group V Response: Discuss some aspect of the effect the anthology produces by selecting what it does from Aurora Leigh and not selecting the ending.

Monday, March 10

  • Robert Browning, "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister" (anthology 1309) and "My Last Duchess" (anthology 1311) from Dramatic Lyrics (1842).

    • Matthew Jolly's aforementioned Browning Pages include a biography, a chronology, and a list of selected reference materials.

Group VI Response: Use the response to focus on a short passage (no more than ten lines) of either poem. Then use that passage to speak more generally of Browning's approach, perhaps in contrast to something we have seen before.

Wednesday, March 12

  • Charles Dickens, from A Walk in a Workhouse (published in Dickens's magazine Household Words, 1850, anthology 1405) and from Hard Times (published in weekly parts in 1854), chapters 1-5

Group I Response: open response.

Friday, March 14

  • Elizabeth Gaskell, "Our Society at Cranford" (published in Dickens's magazine Household Words, 1851, anthology 1414)

  • Articles (available through JSTOR to Grinnell Users): "Mothers Without Children, Unity Without Plot: Cranford's Radical Charm," by Margaret Case Croskery and "Humor as Daughterly Defense in Cranford," by Eileen Gillooly.

    • Gaskell and Cranford have received virtually no systematic attention on the Internet aside from the e-text of the novel by Mitsuharu Matsuoka if Nagoya University, Japan.

Group II Response: open response.


Monday, March 31

  • John Ruskin, from The Stones of Venice from the section "the Nature of the Gothic," (1852, anthology 1476) and from Modern Manufacture and Design (1859, anthology 1485)

    • Victorian Web editor George Landow has adapted his previously published introduction to Ruskin and his works on his site, making that page one of the better ones on the patchy and sprawling Victorian Web.

Group III Response: open response.

Wednesday, April 2


  • Matthew Arnold, "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time" (anthology 1573) from Essays in Criticism (1865) and from "The Study of Poetry" (anthology 1593) from Essays in Criticism, second series (1880)

    • Although too specialized to provide an introductory look at Arnold, David DeLaura's chapter on "The Quarrel of Reason and Faith from Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian England: Newman, Arnold, and Pater is the best Arnold-related material on the Internet. The rest of the Victorian Web site, characteristically, has some interesting scattered tidbits on Arnold.

Group IV Response: open response.

Friday, April 4

  • William Morris, "The Defence of Guenevere" (anthology 1634) from The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), and from "The Beauty of Life" (1880, anthology 1645)

    • Morris's visual works translate well to the Web: see the online exhibition of the William Morris Gallery and the site of the William Morris Society.

    • Then, if you're getting into Morris and can handle a more specialized approach, get down and dirty with fonts in Serif magazine's article "William Morris & His Types."

Group V Response: open response.

Monday, April 7

  • Oscar Wilde, from "The Decay of Lying: A Dialogue" (1889, anthology 1864) and from "The Soul of Man Under Socialism" (1891, anthology 1879)

    • The place reputed to be the best Wilde site on the Web is The Wild Wilde Web, but it is under construction at this writing.

    • Wilde's famous trials have inspired two excellent sites. The Bobst Library at NYU has built a spectacular web version of their exhibition commemorating the centennial of the trials: Reading Wilde, Querying Spaces. Though less polished and flashy, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School's site on the trials also contains a wealth of interesting information.

Group VI Response: open response.

Wednesday, April 9


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