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EN2M5/EN3M5 Sensation!

15 CATS (Term 2)

Course Convenor:

Dr Joanna Hofer-Robinson 

Teaching hours:

1.5 hour weekly seminars


Intermediates:1 x 3,500-word essays.

Finalists: 1 x 4,500-word essays.

Students will also be asked to complete a formative assessment, probably in the form of a class presentation.


Murder, bigamy, illegitimacy, disguises and secret identities are the heady ingredients of nineteenth-century sensation novels and dramas. But the genre is more than just an amalgamation of shocking events. Popular across boundaries of class and nation, these self-consciously modern works combat restrictive heteronormative ideas of gender and sexuality; engage with up-to-the-minute technologies; and ask provocative questions about contemporary nineteenth-century society. This module asks students to interrogate a range of canonical and lesser-known literary and dramatic works, and to analyse what it really meant to be “sensational” in the nineteenth century.


All of these texts are available online; however, I suggest that you acquire reliable scholarly editions where available (e.g. Oxford World's Classics or Penguin editions).

Week 1: George L. Aiken, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1858); Dion Boucicault, The Octoroon (1859)

Week 2: Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (1860)

Week 3: Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (1860)

Week 4: Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret (1862)

Week 5: C. H. Hazlewood, Lady Audley’s Secret (1863); David Green (dir.), East Lynne (1982 TV Movie)


Week 7: Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Rajmohan’s Wife: A Novel (1864)

Week 8: Augustin Daly, Under the Gaslight (1867); Dion Boucicault, After Dark (1868)

Week 9: Florence Marryat, Miss Chester (1875)

Week 10: W. T. Stead, The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon (1885)