ENGLISH 361 - The Victorian Novel
Fall 2023, Section 001 - All That is Solid Melts Into Air
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


The Victorian era in Great Britain (1837-1901) was a time of incredibly rapid and disorienting social, cultural, and technological change. Factors ranging from industrialization and urbanization to Darwin’s theory of evolution challenged traditional beliefs—whether about humanity’s place in the universe or women’s place in society, about the nature of the social order or the sources of individual identity: “all that is solid melts into air,” as Marx and Engels famously put it in The Communist Manifesto (1848). This course will explore how the period’s dominant literary form, the novel, reflected and addressed these historic shifts. What stories did novelists tell and what formal techniques did they devise, we will ask, to capture or manage the terrifying dislocations, thrilling opportunities, and sheer complexity of the modern world?

Reading list: North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell; Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens; Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot; and Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy.

This course satisfies the following CURRENT English major/minor requirement: Pre-1900

This course satisfies the following NEW English major/minor requirements: Foundations & Methods 300/400-level, Regions: Americas, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland

Course Requirements:

There will be approximately 150 to 175 pages of novel-reading per week. Attendance is important. Frequent, short (150-250 word) discussion posts will be required and participation in class discussion strongly encouraged. There will be two 6-7 page analytical essays and a final exam (probably partly in-class, partly take-home).

Intended Audience:

The “intended audience” for this course is students who don’t want to be part of an “audience,” but instead active participants in the individual and collective work of patient, thoughtful engagement with literature which generations of readers have found absorbing, haunting, moving, insightful, illuminating, upsetting, infuriating, and endlessly thought-provoking. Prior familiarity with nineteenth-century fiction is welcome but by no means required or expected. If you disliked the Victorian novel(s) you were assigned in high school, don’t be deterred—so did I! It may be time to give them another try, now that you’re older and wiser.


ENGLISH 361 - The Victorian Novel
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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