English 55: The Victorian Novel
Spring 1997
MWF 11-12

Erin O'Connor

This course provides an introduction to the Victorian novel. We will focus our attention on some of the major fiction of the period, attending to issues of style and form as well as to how the novel participates in Victorian debates about poverty, sexuali ty and imperialism. Tracking recurrent literary obsessions with questions of nervousness, contagion, consumption, and desire, we will study how the Victorian novel helped an emergent industrial society imagine itself into being. In order to situate these works in their cultural and political context, we will supplement our literary readings with a variety of non- fictional writings from the Victorian period, ranging from public health reports to medical case studies to aesthetic theory. In addition, we wi ll survey some of the major theoretical work on Victorian culture.

Required Texts:

Available at Penn Book Center:

A bulkpack, available at Campus Copy Center

Course Requirements:

One short (5-7 pp) paper
One longer (10-12 pp) paper
A final exam
A series of short, electronic writing assignments designed to spark class discussion
Regular attendance
Lively participation in class and electronic discussion


Jan. 13 lecture
Jan. 15 Bronte, Wuthering Heights
Jan 17 Wuthering Heights

Jan 20 Wuthering Heights
Jan 22 Wuthering Heights
Jan 24 Foucault, from History of Sexuality (BP)

Jan 27 Castle, "Phantasmagoria" (BP)
Jan 29 Collins, The Woman in White
Jan 31 Woman in White

Feb 3 Woman in White
Feb 5 Showalter, "The Rise of the Victorian Madwoman," "Managing Women's Minds" (BP)
Feb 7 Woman in White

Feb 10 Woman in White
Feb 12 Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
Feb 14 OMF

Feb 17 OMF
Feb 19 OMF
Feb 21 Stallybrass and White, "The City: The Sewer, the Gaze, the Contaminating Touch" (BP)

Feb 24 Mayhew, London Labour; 5-15, 64-68; 209-249, 335-346
Feb 25 OMF
Feb 28 OMF

Mar 3 Richards, "The Great Exhibition of Things" (BP)
Mar 5 OMF
Mar 7 Marx, "Communist Manifesto" (BP)

Mar 10
Mar 14

Mar 17 Eliot, Silas Marner (all)
Mar 19 Marx, "The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret" (BP)
Mar 21 Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (BP)

Mar 24 Nord, "Urban Peripatetic" (BP)
Mar 26 Hardy, Tess
Mar 28 Tess

Mar 31 Tess
Apr 2 Tess
Apr 4 Tess

Apr 7 Haggard, She (1-200)
Apr 9 She (201-end)
Apr 11 She

Apr 15 Gilman, "Black Bodies, White Bodies" (BP)
Apr 16 Stoker, Dracula (1-200)
Apr 18 Dracula (201-300)

Apr 21 Dracula (301-end)
Apr 23 Craft, "Kiss Me With Those Red Lips" (BP)
Apr 25 synthesis