2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

The Victorian World

Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 quarters

Susan Preciso English literature , Thomas Rainey history
Fields of Study
geography, history and literature
Preparatory for studies or careers in
teaching, literature, history

 Victorian Britons believed in the idea of progress. They believed that a nation, a culture, could “improve” itself; and indeed, Victorian England led the western world in the development of new ideas in science, economics, industrialization, technology, suffrage, and religious tolerance. At the same time, Britain “appeared as a colossus astride the world,” with the most powerful army and navy of the time. British imperialists bragged that “the sun never set on the Union Jack,” and London became the capital, the very heart of this economic political, and scientific-technical giant. During fall quarter, our focus is on the Industrial Revolution and its social, economic, and cultural consequences. In winter quarter, students will continue their exploration of Victoria’s century, pushing the focus to the tensions emerging from British economic and imperial hegemony. We will see how some Victorians questioned the progress so hailed by others. Moving from the apex of British power and influence, we will study ways Britons struggled with an empire grown too big to control, challenges to traditional thinking in religion and science, and calls for reform and change. British novels, in particular, often deal with the consequences of rapid economic, social, cultural, and political change and how Victorians saw themselves and others in this evolving landscape. Thus, students can expect to study the literature of the era as works of art, social documents, and moral statements. Reading historians’ analyses of the era provides the important background that enriches and informs any study of Victorian literature and art.  We will see as well the ways in which the Victorian world shaped who we are and how we see ourselves in the 21st century. How did Victorians like Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and others move us toward the modern world? Writers like George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, and Joseph Conrad will provide a wide and complex picture of Victorian thinking. We will read histories by Eric Hobsbawm, Judith Walkowitz, and E. P. Thompson. We will also see film adaptations of some great Victorian fiction. Lectures, workshops, and seminar discussions will continue to be central activities for students and faculty in The Victorian World.

Winter quarter there will be a 12 credit option offered only to students who began their work in fall quarter. The 12 credit group will meet every week for a seminar discussion of their assigned reading TBA.  The assigned reading and writings assignments will supplement their other program work.

Credits may be awarded in 19th Century British History and Culture, 19th Century English Literature, and the Geography of Empire.

Students who complete this program will be well prepared for more advanced work in the humanities, particularly in history and literature.

Advertised Schedule
6-9:30p Mon/Wed all students; 12 credit winter quarter students will have an additional class meeting 5-6p Wed
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Offered During