Bookish Discussions

Victorian Literature | Semester I:

Toda04E96B5F-7203-4B69-9C20-699C1E6170C4y, we’re talking university. As with my undergrad studies (first year, second year, third year I & II), I wanted to discuss my modules with you. I love hearing what other people study and I love talking about what I study.

So, my first semester as a Masters student has drawn to a close. It’s been stressful. I’ve cried more times in the last two and half months than I did at undergrad for three years. It’s been a hard transition (I’ll definitely write a post about this at some point). Despite having a breakdown nearly every week, I’ve actually really enjoyed my studies. I’ve learnt so much about my favourite period. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

(I also studied a module called Research Skills but that’s pretty self-explanatory, very boring and was a core module that I had to do).

Romantic Victorians

I was really looking forward to this module as it combined two of my favourite things: Romantic poets and Victorian writers. You may ask ‘why are you studying the Romantics on a Victorian module?’ Well that’s because they were deeply embedded in nineteenth-century culture. They are always referenced to or quoted from.

The aim of this module was to critically reflect on periodisation, and think about how Romantic characteristics (genre, themes, etc.) were re-developed in the Victorian period. My module handbook puts it nicely: the module aims to give you a sense of the immediate heritage of Victorian writers, and their indebtedness to Romantic writers.

I studied the likes of Wordsworth, Ruskin, Keats, Shelley and Browning

Society and Sympathy: Victorian Realism

In a nutshell: a study of Victorian realism. I looked at the development of the genre alongside the emergence of the novel. I tried to define the genre (which is not as easy as you’d think), and considered the moral and social aims of the genre. We looked at the social novel, novels concerned with marriage and relationships, and others that speak of the church.

I’m surprised by how much I liked this module. Realism has always been something I’ve read, but never really thought about. It’s a hard genre to define: it cannot be truly real if it is fiction. I learnt quite a lot on this module, and I really enjoyed the books we looked at.

I studied the likes of Gaskell’s North & South and Mary Barton, Engels’ The Conditions of the Working Class in England, Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Anthony Trollope’s The Warden and George Eliot’s Middlemarch

Victorian Fears, Fantasies and Fairy-Tales

F3252B77-7561-4D94-8126-795E280DA861I wasn’t looking forward to this module at all. The Gothic, which was only a small section of this module, is something I find really hard to write about (I studied Victorian Gothic in my third year of undergrad). I don’t enjoy children’s literature (so that’s fairy-tales out of the window), and I assumed fantasies would be another writing issue.

I was wrong, though. This was quite an enjoyable module. I studied a range of texts that sit outside of the traditional nineteenth-century realist fiction. I considered how these texts deviated from the dominant genre by looking at sensation fiction, utopia and dystopia, ghost stories, fantasies and children’s fairy-tales.

I studied the likes of Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Lewis’s The Monk, Kingsley’s The Water Babies, Ruskin’s The King of the Golden River, Collins’ The Woman in White, Jefferies’ After London, Morris’s News from Nowhere, Marsh’s The Beetle and Dickens’s ‘The Signalman’

…and those were my semester one modules. I’m quite sad that it’s over. I loved studying these modules, and they went by *so* fast (I think because my classes alternated each week: one week I’d have S&S and F,F&FTs and then the next I’d have RV). Nevertheless, I’m eager to see what next semester has in store…

Do you study anything? Are you enjoying it? Let’s discuss it in the comments below!

Thanks for reading, Lauren X


5 thoughts on “Victorian Literature | Semester I:

  1. I envy your studying literature, even though I couldn’t get into it really as an academic subject. I guess I just want to spend all my time with books.

    A lot of the subjects you discussed here have been of interest to me. I wrote a short essay discussing what realism in literature entails, though I remember only a few of my conclusions now and more small details for some reason. I started from the thesis of Ian Watt, maybe you’ve heard of him? He argues that realism has been an intricate part of what a novel is since its inception.

    I’m also very interested in the gothic, though I have read more from the Romantic era than the Victorian.

    I’m currently studying history here in Sweden. Unfortunately I’m not liking it. I feel like there is a greater intention to politicize the subject and corral everyone into taking on the same perspective, I think it’s called intersectional theory. I find it pretty limiting not only because it is only one perspective on history but also because the subjects studied tend to be more focused on minutiae (in my opinion) and there is always an effort to problematize and citicize the past rather than see anything good in it that can be carried forward into today.

    That’s how I feel about it anyway. On the bright side, my despair over the program has caused me to begin researching a historical novel set around the end of the Napoleonic wars and during the Concert of Europe, thematically focused on Romanticism.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s