Victoria Still Rules
Fall 2005 and Winter 2006
Monday/Wednesday 6:00-9:30
Susan Preciso (email)
precisos at
mail B2124 Sem II
Karen Hogan (email)
hogank at
mail B2124 Sem II

867- 5078

Vicky's blog

In this program we will continue our study of Great Britain in the time of Queen Victoria (1837–1901), focusing on radical changes in science, technology, the economy and religion. We will look at the experience of the English in Britain and Britain as an Imperial force. Our work winter quarter will concentrate on the later years of Victoria's reign, from about 1860–1901. Victorian Britons believed in the idea of progress; they believed that a nation could “improve” itself, and Victorian England led the western world in new ideas in science, economics, industrialization, suffrage and religious tolerance. The rise of science and its extension into practical living was a major part of the Victorian era. The attitudes around the practical value of science led, in part, to the industrial revolution. Applying science to study the natural world, the Victorians saw a way to know better the world that God had constructed. Their passion for collecting flowers, insects, rocks, etc. stimulated the growth of museums, which were a cultural manifestation of colonialism and an expression of the Victorian view of the world, including other peoples and cultures. Some Victorians questioned whether rapid change should be seen as progress. We—as inheritors of 19th-century ideas—ask this question as well. For example, can we see the spread of the British Empire as improving the people it dominated? Can we see "scientific" thinking that belittled women as a sign of progress? Can economic development that created two nations, one rich and one poor, be construed as progress? Can the mechanized production of goods, which stifled creativity and lowered quality, be an advancement? Too often we look back to 19th-century England as a time of decorum, of stability—a less complicated time. We'll examine how profound changes in almost every aspect of their lives shaped Victorians' thinking. We'll see how these changes are reflected in the literature and culture of the era, and think about how they have shaped our understanding of the 21st-century world as well.

Students will be awarded credit in 19th Century British Literature, History of Science and 19th Century British History.

Students in enrolled for 12 credits will expand their study of Victorian life and culture, focusing on the museum as a Victorian institution. Victorians built many museums, both in England and throughout the Empire, collecting, cataloging, and displaying things. Museums of natural science, art, history, anthropology (and more often than not, containing something from all categories) flourished. In addition to reading On Exhibit: Victorians and their Museums, students will visit local museums, noting their roots in Victorian life. There will be admission fees to the museums we visit on two Sunday field trips. February 12 and February 26.

Program Requirements:

  • Excellent attendance and full participation in all program activities. (Missing more than one class may be cause for loss of credit.)
  • Particpation in one of the four interest groups to include collaborative decisions about the nature and scope of individual project work, preparation for seminar on text assigned to the group, and preparation of materials and information to be shared with all other groups.
  • A 1-2 page essay response to the assigned readings, to be turned in at the conclusion of seminar. (See details below)
  • Completed portfolio to include all written work: essay responses to readings, lecture notes, individual project work, notes from interest group meetings, student self-evaluation and faculty evaluation.



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