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EN328 English Literature and Feminisms, 1790-1899

This module is a Distributional Requirement on the World, Theory and American Pathways and an option under the English Pathway.

From 2019/20, there will be two new module codes:
Intermediate Year: EN2E2
Final Year: EN3E2
*Please ensure that you register for the correct code for your year of study*

Module Team 2019-20

Dr Emma Francis (Convenor) & Dr Sarah Burdett

Seminars: Tuesdays 12:00-1:30, 2:00-3:30; Fridays 1:00-2:30, 3:00-4:30


This module explores aspects of the political and intellectual provenance of a range of 19th century feminisms and their impact upon British literary culture in the period. We move from a starting point of the feminisms produced by the battle between conservative and radical political thought at the turn of the 19th century through the feminisms of the mid-century, which looked to liberalism and related positions to legitimate their arguments, to the diversification of feminist debates through the lenses of Darwinism, socialism, new discourses about sexuality and discussions around the significance of the city at the end of the 19th century. The module constructs a dialogue between 19th century literary texts and 19th century feminist and anti-feminist discourses, and the way in which these relationships have been understood in the late 20th and 21st centuries by historians, historiographers and literary critics.


  • Revolutionary and counter-revolutionary feminisms and their literatures, 1790-1830
  • Women’s poetry and woman’s mission: the woman writer’s ‘proper sphere’, 1802-65
  • Liberalism, Unitarianism and feminism: the limits of the novel, 1840-69
  • Sensation, socialism, science and sexual deviance, 1862-89
  • The ‘New Woman’, 1890-99


From 2019-20 the assessment pattern for the module will be as follows - please note the different assessment patterns for students taking the module in their intermediate and final years.

Those taking the module in their intermediate year will choose a question from a list supplied and write a 4,000 word essay.

Those taking the module in their final year will in consultation with their seminar tutor devise their own question and write a 5,000 word essay on it.

Both groups of students may chose to submit their essay either in week 1 of term 2 or week 1 of term 3. This will comprise 50% of the mark

The other 50% will be derived from performance in a level-specific closed 2 hour examination paper taken in the summer term.


The following texts should be acquired, preferably in the recommended editions. All other set texts will be issued in copyright compliant xerox.

  • Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility [1811] (ed. Ros Ballaster, Penguin, 2003)
  • Grant Allen, The Woman Who Did [1895] (ed. Nicholas Ruddick, Broadview: 2004)
  • Charlotte Brontë, Villette [1853] (ed. Helen Cooper, Penguin: 2002)
  • Rhoda Broughton, Cometh Up As A Flower [1867] (ed. Pamela Gilbert, Broadview: 2010)
  • Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South [1855] (ed. Patricia Ingram, Penguin: 1996)
  • George Gissing, The Odd Women [1893] (ed. Patricia Ingram, OUP: 2000)
  • Margaret Harkness A City Girl [1887] (ed. Deborah Mutch, Victorian Secrets: 2015)
  • Amy Levy, Reuben Sachs [1888] (ed. Susan Bernstein, Broadview: 2006)
  • Hannah More, Coelebs in Search of a Wife [1809] (Broadview: 2003)
  • John Stuart Mill, ‘On the Subjection of Women’ [1869] (Broadview: 2000)
  • Christina Rossetti, 'Goblin Market' [1862] any modern edition
  • Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm [1883] (ed. Joseph Bristow, OUP: 2008)
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus [1818] (ed. Maurice Hindle, Penguin: 2008)
  • Germaine de Stael, Corinne, Or Italy [1802] (ed. Sylvia Raphael, OUP:2008)
  • Bram Stoker, Dracula [1897] (ed. Roger Luckhurst, OUP: 2011)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman [1792] and Maria or the Wrongs of Woman [1798] (ed. Anne K. Mellor, Longman Cultural Editions: 2006)