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Victorian Literature 325-1 MW 3:30–4:45pm
Fall 2023
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This is a "real time" syllabus that will be regularly updated to reflect our progress throughout the semester. You can easily check it from a mobile device or from any computer.

The syllabus consists of the Reading Schedule and Course Policies. You are responsible for understanding and following the reading schedule and the course policies, which are in effect from the first day of class. Please read them carefully (and review them throughout the semester). Please see me if you have any questions.

Think of the syllabus as a flexible guide. It will structure our semester, but we will adjust it to fit our needs as the semester progresses. Not all assignments and quizzes are listed at the beginning of the semester; some will be added throughout the semester. It may also be necessary to finish some readings the following class period, in which case I will update the syllabus after each class.  Again, be sure to check the syllabus regularly.  The course is organized by interdependent themes:  Empire; Education; Individualism and Society; Play and Games; and the Victorian Short Story.

Our main vehicle this semester for course content will be the Course Website, but it is linked to course Canvas site, which we will use for some things, such as discussion posts or for accessing video. We will not use the Canvas Gradebook; instead, the Grade Sheet on our Course Notes page (on the course website) will help you track assignments and grades.

All readings are from The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Victorian Age (NA, 10th ed) unless otherwise noted as a handout.  It will be useful to read the introductions for each author we study. Helpful information and context for readings that are on the Course Notes page (Course Website) will be noted on the syllabus, e.g., "The Man Who Would Be King" (Course Notes).  This means you should read the Course Notes along with the assigned text.  You may find it helpful to preview the Course Notes material first, then read it again after you read the story. (Be careful of any spoiler info.)  Our novel, Jane Eyre, should be read (completely finished) on the day we begin discussing it.

Reading should be finished for the day assigned, e.g., Introduction to the Victorian Age should be completed for class on September 11. Please bring the required books for each class meeting and be sure to use the Course Notes pages to prepare for class and to study outside of class. 

Monday Wednesday
04 Labor Day - No Class

06 Course Introduction

Review Course Website/Canvas Site

11 Review Course Website/Canvas Site

Begin NA: Intro — Victorian Age, 2-29/PPt Slides (Course Notes)

Watch and have notes on Queen Victoria's Enpire (video) outside of class.
Just Part 1: Watch only the first 53:20 (Access on Canvas)
13 NA: Intro — Victorian Age, 2-29/PPt Slides

Watch and have notes on Queen Victoria's Enpire (video) outside of class
Just Part 1: Watch only the first 53:20 (Access on Canvas)

18 Empire (NA: 682 -86; 10-12, 14-16)

Kipling - "The Man Who Would Be King" (Course Notes)

20 Kipling - Final Considerations

In-class grp work - card (5pts)

Russell — from My Diary in India

Mukharji - from A Visit to Europe
25 Russell & Mukharji - Final Considerations

In-class grp work card due

Arthur Conan Doyle - "The Speckled Band" (Course Notes)

Movie Clip: A Study in Pink (BBC - Benedict Cumberbatch)

Read the story in NA, then look at the story in The Strand magazine (link below) as Victorian readers would have experienced it.

The Strand
includes the Sidney Paget illustrations


27 Finish "The Speckled Band"

Selections from William Watson's The Purple East: A Series of Sonnets on England's Desertion of Armenia (Handout) (Course Notes).  Read introduction + three sonnets

Monday Wednesday
02 Finish Watson's The Purple East

- Final Thoughts

(NA: 713 - 18)

Dickens - from Hard Times (Dickens bio - 261-63)

Thompson - from Lark Rise

04 Dickens - from Hard Times (Dickens bio - 261-63)

Thompson - from Lark Rise

Newman - The Idea of a University

Quiz 1: "TMWWBK"; "TSB"; Hard Times

09 Dickens - from Hard Times (Dickens bio - 261-63)

Thompson - from Lark Rise

Newman - The Idea of a University

**Bring essay outlines in progress

Individualism and Society

Jane Eyre - Introduction/Norton Critical Edition supplementary materials

11 Education - Final Thoughts

Individualism and Society

(Bring Jane Eyre & the NA to all classes)

Jane Eyre - Introduction/Norton Critical Edition supplementary materials

--first-person narrative, individualism, slavery/rebellion (empire)
Gothic, psychological terror, looking glass (mirror)

Bring essay outline in progress with your thesis statement written out in (a)
16 Jane Eyre (Course Notes)

**Lowood school (Helen Burns, Miss Temple, Mr. Brocklehurst)

Bring essay outline in progress with your thesis statement written out in (a)
sentence(s). In addition, you might also bring your draft in progress

Quiz 2: The Purple East, Lark Rise, Jane Eyre (Chpts 1-15)
18 Jane Eyre

**Lowood school (Helen Burns, Miss Temple, Mr. Brocklehurst)
**Thornfield (Mrs. Fairfax, Adéle, Mr. Rochester)
  --governess, social class, gender
**Jane and Mr Rochester
  --relationship dynamic, love, marriage/charades scene

Essay One + Outline Due (In class--or drop off at my office TH (by 5pm) or Friday (by 2pm).
Leave in the bin on my office door if I'm not in
23  Jane Eyre

**Bildungsroman - Jane's inner conflicts/debates & development/trials
**Jane and Mr Rochester
  --relationship dynamic, love, marriage/charades scene
**St. John Rivers, his sisters Diana and Mary
  --Moor House

25 Midterm (No early exams, please)
30 Jane Eyre

**Plotting/Plot lines (Chpts 27, 33, 36, 38)
    --enclosure and escape (houses)/Jane's letter to her uncle/history of Rochester family
    --Historical: Victorian mid-Period/The Woman Question
**Narration/first-person narrative (Bildungsroman)
  --direct address to readers/reliability/older, younger Jane
**St. John Rivers, his sisters Diana and Mary
  --Moor House
**Novel's conclusion

01 November - See Below

Monday Wednesday
30 October - See Above

01 Bring NA and Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

**Bertha Mason/Grace Poole (Norton critical essays: pp 479-81; 488-94)
  --madness, empire, slavery, rebellion
**Nature (Romanticism)/Social Issues, Material Culture (Victorianism)

Loose ends/Final thoughts

Arnold - "Dover Beach"

**Lyell's Principles of Geology (handout)
**Darwin's Origin (NA, pp 606-09 - Struggle for Existence) (Course Notes)

06 Arnold - "Dover Beach"

**Lyell's Principles of Geology (handout)
**Darwin's Origin (NA, pp 606-09 - Struggle for Existence) (Course Notes)

Tennyson - from In Memoriam (not the whole poem; only the sections below)

Prologue (lines 1-44) & Sections:
34-35, 39; 47-48; 50, 54, 55-57, 58, 59;
118, 120, 131 & Epilogue

In-class grp work - card (5pts)

08 Finish Tennyson, from In Memoriam

In-class grp work card due

Browning - "Porphyria's Lover" (Course Notes--Dramatic Monologue/23-26)

13 Browning - "Porphyria's Lover" (Course Notes--Dramatic Monologue)

C. Rossetti - "Goblin Market" (Course Notes)

The Woman Question (NA: 17-20; 653 - 56; 509-10)

15 Rossetti - "Goblin Market"

Quiz 3: Jane Eyre (chpts 32-38), Tennyson, Arnold

**Be prepared to share (orally) the work you will focus on and topic for essay two.

20 Finish "Goblin Market"(Course Notes)

The Woman Question (NA: 17-20; 653 - 56; 509-10)
Pre-Raphaelitism (NA: 509-10)

Engels - from The Great Towns (635-43).
Also, Industrialism: Progress or Decline? NA: 626-27

Paintings: Turner (Course Notes); Work, Ford Madox Brown: NA - C4

22Thanksgiving Break - No Class Meeting
27 Engels - from The Great Towns (635-43).
Also, Industrialism: Progress or Decline? NA: 626-27

Paintings: Turner (Course Notes); Work, Ford Madox Brown: NA - C4

Individualism and Society - Final Thoughts

Play and Games

Play theory lecture (Course Notes:  The Victorian Gospel of Play)

29 Dickens - from The Pickwick Papers (handout)/(Dickens bio - NA, pp 261-63)
**Ch 30
Monday Wednesday
04 Dickens - from The Pickwick Papers (handout)/(Dickens bio - NA, pp 261-63)
**Ch 28

Carroll - from Alice in Wonderland, Ch 8, "The Queen's Croquet-Ground" (handout)
 (Carroll bio - NA, pp 724-26)

Essay 2 - Intro Par + Thesis - Assignment due Tues (post on Canvas)
06 Finish Alice in Wonderland, Ch 8
**Function of rules

Play and Games
- Final Thoughts

Victorian Short Story

Mary Elizabeth Braddon - "Eveline's Visitant" (handout)

11 Bring NA & Jane Eyre

Finish "Eveline's Visitant"

Mary de Morgan - "A Toy Princess" (handout)

NA: The New Woman, pp 655-56; 680-82

Quiz 4: "Porphyria's Lover," "Goblin Market," from The Pickwick Papers
13 Bring all handouts, NA, and Jane Eyre

Victorian Short Story
- Final Considerations
**"Eveline's Visitant"
**"A Toy Princess"

The Victorian Age - Final Considerations

Bring essay two outline (also draft in progress if you wish)

Final Exam Review as time allows
**Bring midterm exams

Essay Two + Outline Due: Dec 19, Tues, by 5pm.  Drop off at my office. (See below)

Course Wrap Up

Finals week: Dec. 18-22
Finals week office hrs: See website home page

Final exam: Dec 21, TH, 8-10am, in our usual classroom

Essay 2 + Outline due Tues, Dec, 19, by 5pm.  Drop in the bin on my office door

Course Grades posted on Access Point (not Canvas): Dec 29

The General Education Program Humanities Learning Outcomes

The humanities explore the fundamental ideas and values shaping cultures and civilization, in life and as represented in the written word, using scholarly approaches that are primarily analytical, critical, or interpretive. By introducing students to concepts and beliefs within and outside their own perspectives, courses in the humanities help students to understand and critically engage a variety of worldviews and the ideas that give them meaning.

Upon completing this requirement, students will be able to:

  • Read closely, think critically, and write effectively about texts or cultural artifacts that
    reflect on perennial questions concerning the human condition (such as the search for truth
    and meaning, the confrontation with suffering and mortality, or the struggle for justice,
    equality, and human dignity).
  • Investigate and thoughtfully respond to a variety of ideas, beliefs or values held by persons
    in situations other than one’s own.
Course Description and Learning Outcomes

In this course we will read and discuss poetry, prose, drama, and fiction from the British Victorian period. This literature will be read not only to study each work's artistic value but also to understand the social, cultural, historical, and political contexts that define this literature and the period in which it was written. In addition, we will examine theory and criticism as a way of reading, thinking, and writing about literature.

Although there are specific works assigned under a topic or theme, works can address multiple themes. We will want to keep this in mind as we move through the semester. In addition, each main topic or theme invokes numerous subthemes we can discuss as time allows.

As you read this semester, I hope you come to see the amazing parallels between the Victorian Age and our own society.

During the semester, we will work to:

  • Analyze literature critically in writing to demonstrate an understanding of key themes, of the conventions/language of literature, and of key literary concepts/theories.
  • Comprehend how individual responses to literary texts, orally and in writing, using technology, are a form of knowledge
  • Explain the reciprocal relationship between literature and culture – how literature and culture interact to reinforce and challenge social attitudes and values.
  • Evaluate and engage literature as an imaginative expression of the human condition.

 Text Rental

Stephen Greenblatt., gen. ed, et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 10th ed. Vol. E. (The Victorian Age).

Purchase at Bookstore (or from another vendor)

Emily Bronte.  Jane Eyre.  Ed. Deborah Lutz.  Norton, 2002. (ISBN: 978-0-393-26487-6)  Note:  We are using the Norton edition because of its helpful critical introduction and notes.  If you do not use the Norton edition, you will not have access to these resources and will have difficulty following class discussions since page numbers will be different.


This is a reading-intensive course. Students should be prepared to discuss all of the reading assignments for the days they are scheduled. Success in the course will require that students establish set (and consistent) reading times outside of class when reading and thinking can occur. To prepare for class discussions, it will be helpful to take notes. Mark key passages or language that points to central concerns or ideas in the works, and write out key themes as well as questions that you have. There will be quizzes, (announced and possibly unannounced), some assignments, a course project, and two examinations (a midterm and a final).

Our class discussions will focus on the assigned readings, but we will not read everyone work line by line. In keeping with the course learning outcomes, students will be able to use our class discussions to study sections of works we do not have time to cover fully in class on their own. Office hours are also designed to help you with questions about the readings. Quizzes and exams will measure how students read and think to formulate their own interpretations (not just repeat interpretations from class), which will certainly incorporate ideas from class discussions. However, effective written responses require more than personal opinion; they should articulate a thesis and support it with evidence as space and time allow.

The course grade will be determined mathematically using the percentages below. Please remember that your course grade will be based on the work that you submit, not simply the effort you make or just my subjective opinion.

Course Grade %
Assigns/Quizzes** 15%
Midterm Exam 25%
Two Short Essays (2 x 15%) 30%
Final Exam 30%
**Will be determined by point values (Approx Grades): 5pt Assignments: A/A-=5-4.5; B- =4; C- =3.5; D- =3; F=2.5-0
10pt Assignments
: A/A- =10-9; B/B- =8.5-8; C/C- =7.5-7; D/D- =6.5-6; F=5-0

All work must be completed on time. It is your responsibility to keep copies of all of your essays and assignments. Some assignments maybe submitted via email, and email communication will be required throughout the semester.

Late Assignment Policy: Assignments due on a given day must be submitted at the beginning of the class period. An assignment that is finished but not printed out and ready to hand in is late. Late assignments will be accepted one day after the original due date (not the next class meeting), but will lose one letter grade or a minimum of one full point. After that, they will not be accepted. (Assignments due on Friday that are late must be turned in by 5pm.  They will not be accepted on Monday.) Assignments due electronically must be received by the day and time specified. Late email assignments will be accepted 24hrs from the original due date. For any special circumstances, please contact me ahead of time. No incompletes will given in the course.

Essays submitted late will lose 1/3 of a letter grade each day they are late, including weekends (e.g., original grade B. Two days late, C+). For any special circumstances, please contact me ahead of time. It may not be possible to make up some quizzes or assignments.


Regular attendance is your responsibility and is essential for success in the course. As stated in the online UWSP Course Catalog (UWSP Course Catalog pgs 25-26), you cannot "cut" classes.

There are no excused or unexcused absences in this course.  The only relevant factor is your number of absences.  However, you have personal days to use and manage as needed: For three-days-a-week classes: 5.  For two-days-a-week classes: 3.  Use personal days for genuine family emergencies or sickness.  Be careful not to squander them.

If you miss a total of two weeks of class (six class meetings for classes meeting three times a week; four class meetings for classes meeting twice a week), you may fail the course.  If you are on a sports team, absences for games still count as personal days.  However, we will adjust your absence limit if absences because of games exceed the absence limit.  The attendance policy begins with the second class meeting. 

It may be possible to make up missed assignments/quizzes with my approval; therefore, it is your responsibility to contact me to determine work that needs to be completed and to follow up with all logistical requirements.  However, it may not be possible to make up some assignments or quizzes.

If you are absent and have not exceeded your absence limit, you do not need to email me to explain your absence. If you would like to find out about missed information or assignments, it is best to stop by during office hours or make an appointment to see me. You can also email me, but I may not be able to respond before our next class meeting. However, you should email about an absence ahead of the due date if an assignment is due or it is a quiz day.

For an extended absence, do the following:  Follow the syllabus and keep up with readings/assignments; Stay in contact with me for information/resources/help; Look into getting notes from classmates (I can help with this); See me during office hours when you return to class.

Classroom Etiquette

During class meetings, we will discuss and debate issues about writing and literature.  It is fine to express your views passionately and debate others in class, but do so in a civil, constructive manner.  Please do not use phones and mobile devices during class, even if you believe you are doing so quietly.  Not only is this rude, but also it distracts other students as well as your ablity to focus on and follow class instruction and discussion.  Also, please do not wear headphones. It is English Department policy that students cannot and should not record class lectures and discussion without permission from the intstructor. Also, please get drinks of water or use the washroom before or after class, not during class, so that our classroom does not become a bus station. Please see me if you need special accomodations.

Plagiarism (from the Latin "to Kidnap")

You will be expected to do your own work throughout the course. Intentionally or unintentionally passing off the ideas, words, or sentences of others (e.g., published authors, website authors, other students) as your own is plagiarism, which will result in failing the plagiarized assignment and possibly the course. Please review the University policy regarding plagiarism.