ENGL625 - Readings in English Victorian Literature
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This graduate seminar will focus on the British 1880s and 90s as a period of intense aesthetic debate reflected in everything from women’s fashion to imperial policy to literary style. With the simultaneous emergence of the New Woman and the Dandy, the period also witnessed upheavals in cultural notions of sex, gender, and sexuality: what the German critic Max Nordau called “the unchaining of the beast in man.” We will explore these various forms of “degeneration” (homosexuality, the assertion of women’s rights, an interest in foreign spaces and cultures) through the works of Henry James, Olive Schreiner, and Oscar Wilde; the poetry of Rudyard Kipling, Michael Field, and the Anglo-Indian Toru Dutt; and short stories by Sarah Grand, Victoria Cross, Aubrey Beardsley, and the Australian writers Henry Lawson and Barbara Baynton. Our conversations will engage as well with the vast body of scholarship written on the period.

Please note that this course will be run entirely as a discussion: there will be no lectures, and each student will be expected to contribute to the conversation. In addition to this active participation, students will write two essays (one short, the other slightly longer) and offer one in-class presentation.