Victorianist Collective

spring 2012

Course Offerings

Please contact instructors directly to see if you're eligible to take their course, and ask your department chair adviser for information about how to arrange it if the course is not offered at your home institution.

Click here for Fall 2011 course offerings


COURSE: HIST 71400: Modern Britain, 1750-present
INSTRUCTOR: Tim Alborn (
COLLEGE: CUNY Graduate Center
DESCRIPTION: A survey of the major themes and historical debates relating to the history of Great Britain from 1750 to the present. The course is divided into four thematic units: political change, class formation, state formation, and culture formation. The final project is a primary-source scavenger hunt that will require students to trace the shifting cultural significance of a commodity over several decades. Readings will include Linda Colley, Britons; Callum Brown, The Death of Christian Britain; Manu Goswami, Producing India; James Vernon, Hunger: A Modern History; Peter Mandler, The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home; and Carolyn Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman.

COURSE: ENGL 802: Victorian Prose and the Uses of Life Writing
INSTRUCTOR: Linda Peterson (
COLLEGE: Yale University
DAY/TIME: Tuesdays, 9:25-11:15am
DESCRIPTION: A study of seminal 19th-century autobiographies and biographies, along with other prose that uses life writing as a form of history, argument or example. Authors and texts include Thomas Carlyle (Sartor Resartus, Of Heroes and Hero-Worship), Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre), Harriet Martineau (Autobiography), Elizabeth Gaskell (Life of Charlotte Brontë), John Stuart Mill (Autobiography), John Ruskin (Praeterita, Sesame and Lilies), and Walter Pater (Studies in the History of the Renaissance).

COURSE: Victorian Marital Models
INSTRUCTOR: Talia Schaffer (
COLLEGE: CUNY Graduate Center
DESCRIPTION: This course charts the shifting notions of the family, focusing especially on the institution of marriage, throughout the 19th century. We'll start with Austen, using Ruth Perry's influential analysis of 18th century and Regency fictions that mourn lost familial affiliations in a new era of strictly patrilineal inheritance. Paying attention to changes in marriage law, we'll discuss the changing status of women and family in 1857 and 1870, and we'll look at the new ways marriage was being theorized in 'primitive marriage' discussions in anthropology. The course will use Corbett's, Marcus's, and Kelly Hager's work to address crucial mid-Victorian marriage plots in the Brontes, Trollope, and Dickens. The course will end with a consideration of Charlotte Yonge as promulgator of an alternative view of marriage, reading important recent criticism on affiliation in Yonge (and its relation to disability) by Tamara Silvia Wagner and Martha Stoddard Holmes. "Victorian Marital Models" asks how much space there was in Victorian marriage practices for alternative kinds of unions - queer unions, familial matches, weddings that functioned to generate networks of kinship and friendship, marriages motivated by nonerotic needs like vocational possibilities.

COURSE: Victorian Theater and Theatricality
INSTRUCTOR: Carolyn Williams (
COLLEGE: Rutgers University
DAY/TIME: Mondays, 4:30-7:30pm
LOCATION: Murray Hall 207
DESCRIPTION: The course will introduce the main genres of Victorian theater, but it will also aim to be inter-generic and to cover a wide range of period issues. In other words, we'll study theater in its own right, but also in relation to other cultural forces and productions. We will focus most intently on the "illegitimate" genre of melodrama, but we will also study pantomime, burlesque, and extravaganza, the minstrel show, and the music hall -- as well as legitimate drama (Robertson, Gilbert, Pinero, Wilde). We will examine the place of theatricality within the Victorian novel, the relation of Victorian theater to Victorian poetry, and the crucial contribution melodrama makes to the early history of cinema. In pursuing this latter goal, we'll watch clips from early and later films that employ melodramatic conventions; but we will also watch filmed versions of Victorian theatrical productions and at least one novel.

Last modified: Oct 25, 2011

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