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English C19 novel

For module queries, please email Michael Meeuwis (convenor)

Convenor office hours: Office hours: Tuesdays 4-5pm, Thursdays 3:30 to 4:30pm, and by appointment

Hi everybody! I'm posting videos over the summer to help you with your reading.

Summer video 1 - Dotwork

Summer video 2 - (fixed) Decolonising the curriculum

Transitional video - Welcome to the Module (Watch Me First): 1, 2, 3

Objectives and outline syllabus

This module explores the rise of the novel in the particular context of nineteenth-century Britain, responding to rapid social change--and the possibility of revolution--and the correspondingly shifting understandings of class, gender, sexuality, nation and culture. The module traverses a range of various styles such as "social realism", “sensationalism”, “historical fiction”, “fantasy”, and covers topics such as masculinity, the new woman, sexuality, childhood, landscapes, Empire, dialogues between image and text, evolution, and illness. Novelists and texts from the popular to the literary, from the canonical to those often overlooked post-1900.

Primary texts

Texts to be: Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent; Jane Austen, Mansfield Park; William Thackeray, Vanity Fair; Charlotte Brontë, Villette; Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South; Mrs. Henry Ward, East Lynne; Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend; George Eliot, Daniel Deronda; Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray; Henry James, What Maisie Knew. These are links to completely acceptable ebook editions. I would recommend students purchase physical copies of the texts, although this is not mandatory; Oxforld World's Classics editions tend to have the best introductions and annotations.

Reading order and asynchronous seminar content:

In keeping with university best practices, part of every seminar will be pre-recorded for asynchronous delivery. Following class, I will post these videos below, along with content I mention in these lectures. (Please note: click on the name of the novel to access the video content.)

Term one, Week:



Mansfield Park

Mentioned in the above:


Mansfield Park week 2

Mentioned in the above:


Castle Rackrent


Vanity Fair


Vanity Fair








North and South


North and South



Term two, Week:



East Lynne


East Lynne


Our Mutual Friend


Our Mutual Friend


Daniel Deronda




Daniel Deronda


The Picture of Dorian Gray


What Maisie Knew


What Maisie Knew


Dear students: because of COVID uncertainties, we have been instructed to remove examinations from our 2020/21 modules. Accordingly, the module will run with the following assessments:

    Second-year students: two 3,000-word essays
    Third-year students: two 3,500-word essays.

    Deadlines will be confirmed on your personal tabula.

    The marking criteria is in the undergraduate handbook.

    First module assignment

    Second module assignment

    Reading List and Materials

    Students are advised that these texts are an initial aid to study on this module, which also requires independent research. The following reading strategy is recommended:

    1. Go here first: chapters on the individual writers are available online in the Cambridge Companion to English Novelists . This Companion includes recommended initial reading more extensive than this web page can provide, curated by experts on the particular writers.

    2. Go here second: Project MUSE and JSTOR are both essential sources of recent criticism.


    Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture: General Studies

    Adams, James Eli. A History of Victorian Literature (2009)

    Barreca, Regina , ed. Sex and Death in Victorian Literature (1990)

    David, Deirdre, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel (2000)

    Dolin, Tim. Mistress of the House: Women of Property in the Victorian Novel (1997)

    Ermarth, Elizabeth Deeds. The English Novel in History 1840-1895 (1997)

    Flint, Kate. The Victorians and the Visual Imagination (2000)

    Freedgood, Elaine. The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel (2006)

    Grenier, Rae. Sympathetic Realism in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction (2012)

    Greenslade, William. Degeneration, Culture and the Novel, 1880-1940 (1994)

    Harman, Barbara Leah. The Feminine Political Novel in Victorian England (1998)

    Jenkins, Alice and Juliet John, eds. Rereading Victorian Fiction (2000)

    Kelly, Gary . English Fiction of the Romantic Period 1789-1830 (1989)

    Kornbluh, Anna. Realizing Capital: Financial and Psychic Economies in Victorian Form (2014)

    Lucas, John. The Literature of Change: Studies in the Nineteenth-Century Provincial Novel (1977)

    Matus, Jill L. Shock, Memory and the Unconscious in Victorian Fiction (2009)

    Miller, J. Hillis. Fiction and Repetition (1982)

    O’Gorman, Francis, ed. A Concise Companion to the Victorian Novel (2005)

    O’Gorman, Francis, ed. The Victorian Novel (2002)

    Plotz, John. Portable Property: Victorian Culture on the Move (2008)

    Rauch, Alan. Useful Knowledge: The Victorians, Morality, and the March of Intellect (2001)

    Regan, Stephen, ed. The Nineteenth-Century Novel: A Critical Reader (2001)

    Tucker, Herbert F, ed. A Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture (1999)

    Williams, Raymond. Culture and Society (1958; 1987)


    Gender and Sexuality

    Ablow, Rachel. The Marriage of Minds: Reading Sympathy in the Victorian Marriage Plot (1997)

    Anderson, Amanda. Tainted Souls and Painted Faces: The Rhetoric of Fallenness in Victorian Culture (1993)

    Archibald, Diana. Domesticity, Imperialism and Emigration in the Victorian Novel (2002)

    Armstrong, Nancy . Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (1987)

    Crosby, Christina. The Ends of History: Victorians and ‘The Woman Question’ (1991)

    Frederickson, Kathleen. The Ploy of Instinct: Victorian Sciences of Nature and Sexuality in Liberal Governance (2014)

    Lewis, Reina. Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation (1996)

    Michie, Helena. The Flesh Made Word: Female Figures and Women’s Bodies (1987)

    Milbank, Alison. Daughters of the House: Modes of the Gothic in Victorian Fiction (1992)

    Nead, Lynda. Myths of Sexuality: Representations of Women in Victorian Britain (1988)

    Poovey, Mary. Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England (1988)

    Shattock, Joanne, ed. Women and Literature in Britain 1800-1900 (2001)

    Zlotnick, Susan. Women, Writing, and the Industrial Revolution (1998)


    Nation and Place

    Agathocleus, Tanya and Jason R. Rudy. “Victorian Cosmopolitanisms”. Victorian Literature and Culture, 38.2 (Sept. 2010): 389-397.

    Bailin, Miriam. The Sickroom in Victorian Fiction: The Art of Being Ill (1994)

    Baucom, Ian. Out of Place: Englishness, Empire and the Locations of Identity (1999)

    Buzard, James. Disorienting Fiction: The Auto-ethnographic Work of Nineteenth-Century British Novels (2005)

    Carens, Timothy L. Outlandish Subjects in the Victorian Domestic Novel (2005)

    Ebbatson, Roger. An Imaginary England: Nation, Landscape and Literature 1840-1920 (2005)

    Flanders, Judith. The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (2003)

    Logan, Thad. The Victorian Parlour: A Cultural study (2001)

    Michie, Helena. Victorian Honeymoons: Journeys to the Conjugal (2006)

    Meyer, Susan. Imperialism at Home: Race and Victorian Women’s Fiction (1996)

    Moretti, Franco. Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 (1998)

    Nead, Lynda. Victorian Babylon : People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth-Century London (2000)

    Nord, Deborah. Walking the Victorian Streets: Women, Representation and the City (1995)

    Poon, Angelia. Enacting Englishness in the Victorian Period: Colonialism and the Politics of Performance (2008)

    Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism (1994)

    Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City (1973)


    Class and Industrialism

    Eagleton, Mary and David Pierce. Attitudes to Class in the English Novel (1979)

    Gallagher, Catherine. The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction: Social Discourse and Narrative Form, 1832-67 (1985)

    Ingham, Patricia. Language of Gender and Class: Transformation in the Victorian Novel (1996)

    Ingham, Patricia. Invisible Writing and the Victorian Novel: Readings in Language and Ideology (2000)

    Keating, P. J. The Working Classes in Victorian Fiction (1971)

    Williams, Raymond. The English Novel from Dickens to Lawrence (1970)


    Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent

    Butler, Marilyn. Maria Edgeworth: A Literary Biography (1972)

    Cronin, John. The Anglo-Irish Novel, Vol. 1, The Nineteenth Century, (1980)

    Dunne, Tom. Maria Edgeworth and the Colonial Mind (1985)

    Eagleton, Terry. Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture (1995)

    Edgeworth, Maria. Essay on Irish Bulls (1802). See “The Irish Incognito” in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. D, The Romantic Period pp.228-42

    Hurst, Michael. Maria Edgeworth and the Public Scene (1969)

    Kirkpatrick, Kathryn J. ‘Introduction’ to World’s Classics edition (1995 rev. ed.) of Castle Rackrent (1995)

    Moynahan, Julian. Anglo-Irish: The Literary Imagination in a Hyphenated Culture (1994)

    Rauchbauer, Otto, ed. Ancestral Voices: The Big House in Anglo-Irish Literature (1992)


    Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

    Butler, Marilyn. Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (1975; rev.ed. 1987)

    Copeland, Edward and Juliet McMaster, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen (1997)

    Gay, Penny. Jane Austen and the Theatre (2002)

    Johnson, Claudia. Jane Austen: Women, Politics and the Novel (1988)

    Johnson, Claudia and Clara Tuite, eds. A Companion to Jane Austen (2009)

    Kirkham, Margaret. Jane Austen: Feminism and Fiction (1983)

    Knox-Shaw, Peter. Jane Austen and the Enlightenment (2004)

    Park, You-me and Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, eds. The Postcolonial Jane Austen (2000)

    Todd, Janet, ed. Jane Austen in Context (2005)

    Wenner, Barbara Britton. Prospect and Refuge in the Landscape of Jane Austen (2006)


    William Thackeray, Vanity Fair

    Carlisle, Janice. The Sense of an Audience (1981)

    Dames, Nicholas. Amnesiac Selves (2001)

    ---. "William Makepeace Thackeray," The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Novelists (2001). (Thackeray list adapted/borrowed from this article.)

    Gilmour, Robin. The Idea of the Gentleman in the Victorian Novel (1981)

    Harden, Edgar. The Emergence of Thackeray’s Serial Fiction (1979)

    Hardy, Barbara. The Exposure of Luxury: Radical Themes in Thackeray’s Fiction (1972)

    McMaster, Juliet. Thackeray: The Major Novels (1971)

    Miller, Andrew. Novels behind Glass: Commodity Culture and Victorian Narrative (1995)

    Peters, Catherine. Thackeray’s Universe: Shifting Worlds of Imagination and Reality (1987)

    Ray, Gordon. Thackeray: The Uses of Adversity, 1811–1846 (1955)

    Thackeray: The Age of Wisdom, 1847–1863 (1958)

    Shillingsburg, Peter. Pegasus in Harness: Victorian Publishing and W. M. Thackeray (1992)

    Sutherland, John. Thackeray at Work (1974)

    Taylor, D. J.. Thackeray (1999)

    Tillotson, Geoffrey, and Donald Hawes (eds.). Thackeray: The Critical Heritage (1968)


    Charlotte Brontë, Villette

    Alexander, Christine and Margaret Smith, eds. The Oxford Companion to the Brontës (2003)

    Eagleton, Terry. A Marxist Study of the Brontës (1975)

    Gilbert, Sandra and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (1979)

    Glen, Heather, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Brontës (2002)

    Hagan, Sandra and Juliette Wells. The Brontës in the World of the Arts (2008)

    Michie, Elsie B. Outside the Pale: Cultural Exclusion, Gender Difference and the Victorian Woman Writer (1993)

    Thormälen, Marianne. The Brontës and Religion (1999)


    Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

    Flint, Kate. Elizabeth Gaskell (1995)

    Foster, Shirley. Elizabeth Gaskell: A Literary Life (2002)

    Gallagher, Catherine. The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction (1985)

    Harman, Barbara. The Feminine Political Novel in Victorian England (1998)

    Ingham, Patricia. The Language of Gender and Class: Transformation in the Victorian Novel (1996)

    Lucas, John. ‘Engels, Mrs Gaskell and Manchester ’ in John Lucas, The Literature of Change: Studies in the Nineteenth-Century Provincial Novel (1977)

    Matus, Jill L., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Gaskell (2007)

    Nash, Julie. Servants and Paternalism in the Works of Maria Edgeworth and Elizabeth Gaskell (2007)

    Nord, Deborah Epstein. Walking the Victorian Streets: Women, Representation and the City (1995)

    Schor, Hilary M. Scheherezade in the Marketplace: Elizabeth Gaskell and the Victorian Novel (1992)

    Stevenson, Catherine Barnes. ‘Romance and the Self-made Man: Gaskell Re-writes Brontë’, Victorian Newsletter 91 (1997), 10-16


    Mrs. Henry Ward, East Lynne

    Birch, Dinah. "Fear Among the Teacups," LRB 8 February 2011

    Brantlinger, Patrick. "What is 'Sensational' about the Sensation Novel, Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 37 (June 1982)

    Cvetkovich, Ann. Mixed Feelings (1992)

    Flint, Kate, "Sensation Fiction," in The Woman Reader, 1837-1914 (1993)

    Hughes, Winifred, The Maniac in the Cellar (1980)

    Litvak, Joseph, Caught in the Act (1992)

    Powell, Kerry, Women and the Victorian Theatre (1997)

    The Cambridge Companion to Sensation Fiction, ed. Andrew Mangham (2013):


    Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

    Bowen, John and Robert L. Patten, eds. Advances in Charles Dickens Studies (2006)

    Buzard, James. “‘The Country of the Plague’: Anticulture and Autoethnography in Dickens’ 1850s.” Victorian Literature and Culture, 38.2 (Sept. 2010): 413-419.

    Hawthorn, Jeremy. Bleak House (1987)

    Ledger, Sally and Holly Furneaux. Charles Dickens in Context (2011)

    Mee, Jon. The Cambridge Introduction to Charles Dickens (2010)

    Mengham, Rod. Charles Dickens (2001)

    Pykett, Lyn. Charles Dickens (2002)

    Smith, Karl Ashley. Dickens and the Unreal City : Searching for Spiritual Significance in Nineteenth-Century London (2008)

    Tambling, Jeremy. Going Astray: Dickens and London (2009)

    Wolfreys, Julian. Writing London: the Trace of the Urban Text from Blake to Dickens. (1998)


    George Eliot, Daniel Deronda

    Anderson, Amanda. ‘George Eliot and the Jewish Question’, Yale Journal of Criticism 10.1 (1997), 39-61

    David, Deirdre. Fictions of Resolution in Three Victorian Novels: North and South, Our Mutual Friend, Daniel Deronda (1981)

    Gertrude Himmelfarb, The Jewish Odyssey of George Eliot (2009)

    Henry, Nancy . The Cambridge Introduction to George Eliot (2008)

    Henry, Nancy . George Eliot and the British Empire (2002)

    Linehan, Katherine Bailey. ‘Mixed Politics: The Critique of Imperialism in Daniel Deronda’, Texas Studies in Literature and Language 34 (1992)

    McCormack, Kathleen. George Eliot’s English Travels: Composite Characters and Coded Communications. London : Routledge, 2005.

    Newton , K.M. ‘Winners, Losers, and Luck in the Ethics and Politics of Daniel Deronda’, English, 58 (2009), 297-317

    Rignall, John , ed. George Eliot and Europe (1997)

    Rignall, John . George Eliot, European Novelist (2011)

    Robbins, Bruce. “Victorian Cosmopolitanisms, Interrupted.” Victorian Literature and Culture, 38.2 (Sept. 2010), 421-425.

    Said, Edward. ‘Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims’, Social Text, 1 (1979), 7-58


    Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Bartlett, Neil. Who Was that Man? A Present for Mr. Oscar Wilde (1988)

    Bowlby, Rachel. ‘Promoting Dorian Gray’, Oxford Literary Review, 9 (1987), 147-62

    Cohen, Ed. Talk on the Wilde Side: Towards a Genealogy of a Discourse on Male Sexualities (1990)

    Cook, Matt. London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914 (2003)

    Dellamora, Richard. ‘Representation and Homophobia in The Picture of Dorian Gray’ Victorian Newsletter, 73 (1998), 28-31

    Gagnier, Regenia. Idylls of the Marketplace: Oscar Wilde and the Victorian Public (1986)

    Gagnier, Regenia, ed. Critical Essays on Oscar Wilde (1991)

    McCormack, Jerusha, ed. Wilde the Irishman (1998)

    Raby, Peter, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde (1997)

    Roden, Frederick S., ed. Palgrave Advances in Oscar Wilde Studies (2004)

    Rosner, Victoria . Modernism and the Architecture of Private Life (2005)

    Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Epistemology of the Closet (1990)


    Joseph Conrad, "An Outpost of Progress"

    Achebe, Chinua, "An Image of Africa" (1975)

    Berthoud, Jacques. Joseph Conrad: The Major Phase (1978)

    Dryden, Linda, Joseph Conrad and the Imperial Romance (2000)

    Erdinast-Vulcan, Daphna. Joseph Conrad and the Modern Temper (1991)

    Fogel, Aaron. Coercion to Speak: Conrad's Poetics of Dialogue (1985)

    Knowles and Moore, eds. The Oxford Reader's Compaion to Conrad (2000)

    Stapes, J.H. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad (1996)

    Watt, Ian. Conrad in the Nineteenth Century (1980)


    Henry James, What Maisie Knew

    Bell, Millicent. Meaning in Henry James (1991)

    Brown, Julia Prewitt. The Bourgeois Interior: How the Middle Class Imagines Itself in Literature and Film (2008)

    Freedman, Jonathan, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Henry James (1998)

    Gill, Richard. Happy Rural Seat: The English Country House and the Literary Imagination (1972)

    Mendelssohn, Michele. Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture (2007)

    Rawlings, Peter, ed. Palgrave Advances in Henry James Studies (2007)