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Literature and the City

Key reading

Please choose a novel (some suggestions below although other examples welcomed) and prepare notes on relevant aspects of representations of the Victorian City including (where relevant) class; characterisation; plot; place/space (including international/imperial comparisons); gender; genre (eg social novels, detective fiction etc); authors and their motivations (see Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). Please bring notes to the seminar for discussion.

  • Arnold Bennett, Clayhanger
  • Charlotte Bronte, Shirley
  • Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present
  • Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four
  • Charles Dickens, Hard Times; Oliver Twist; Our Mutual Friend (and many others)
  • Benjamin Disraeli, Sybil
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch
  • Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South; Mary Barton
  • George Gissing, The Nether World
  • Robert Tressell, The Classic Slum; A Ragged Schooling

Patricia Pulham, 'The Arts', in Chris Williams (ed.), Companion to Nineteenth-century Britain 

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

Francis O‘Gorman (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Culture 

Further Reading

Isobel Armstrong, Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics, and Politics

Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction

Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism

Louis Cazamian, The Social Novel in England, 1830-50

Philip Collins, 'Dickens and London', in H. J. Dyos and M. Wolff, The Victorian City: Images and Realities

Philip Davis, The Oxford English Literary History: Volume 8, 1830-1880, The Victorians

Josephine Guy (ed.), The Victorian Age: An Anthology of Sources and Documents

L. M. Harper, 'Clues in the Street: Sherlock Holmes, Martin Hewitt, and Mean Streets', The Journal of Popular Culture, 42 (2009)

Linda K. Hughes and Michael Lund (eds), The Victorian Serial

Ruth Livesey, 'Reading for Character : Women Social Reformers and Narratives of the Urban Poor in Late Victorian and Edwardian London', Journal of Victorian Culture, 9 (2004)

Elaine Showalter, Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siècle  

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

Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet