Bookish Discussions

Victorian Literature | Semester II:


As September draws nearer, I am one step closer to finishing uni *for good*. I’m to step into The Real World and I’m not ready. So, let’s prolong uni by writing my last ever module post, shall we? As with my undergrad (Year I, II, III:I & III:II) and the start of my masters (I:I), I thought I’d document the modules I chose and the books I was asked to study for the semester just gone!

I have to admit, semester II was the worst five months of my academic life. I had a lot of personal struggles, I fell out of love my degree & Victorian literature, and I lost all motivation to do well in my essays. I honestly stopped caring, which isn’t like me at all, because I usually love studying. (I’ll have a post dedicated to my masters experience going live soon if you want more info!)

Dissertation Project:

Let’s start easy.

I had to choose and present my dissertation idea to a group of fellow Victorianists, which I then later wrote up in essay form. There was no required reading, I only had to attend a couple of lectures, and I only had two assignments (only one of them was marked). This module was more about refining my dissertation topic than anything else.

Victorian Poetry:

Ah, good ol’ poetry. This is pretty self explanatory: I had to study Victorian poetry. We all know poetry isn’t my favourite thing – only the Romantics have done it for me so far – but I threw myself into this one. I enjoyed attending my seminars, but found the essay quite challenging. I wrote on John Clare’s perception of the self in his poetry!

I was to become familiar with the complexities of Victorian poetry, “from its extended investigations into the construction of the individual self, to its experiments with aestheticism and sensuality, its fascination with all manners of religious experiences and how we make sense of them, and its nuanced and mature treatment of sexuality” (as elegantly put my tutor in the module handbook).

I studied the likes of: John Henry Newman, Algernon Charles Swinburne, the Brontës, George Meredith and Christina Rossetti.

Victorian Cultures:

The most challenging module of the semester: Victorian Cultures. I found it quite hard to define ‘cultures’, so I had a couple of breakdowns during this one. I wrote on the cultural phenomena of murder in the urban city in penny dreadfuls (Sweeney Todd and The Mysteries of London).

I was to develop an awareness of the Victorian culture, including the likes of “Victorian theatre, Victorian journalism, Victorian publishing, and intellectual debates conducted through the essay and other forms of prose writing”. More importantly, we looked at how their culture manifested in literature, and how even the Victorians struggled to define their own culture.

2951DF8D-FB35-4AFC-A382-334CC8489B20I studied the likes of: John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’, George Gissing’s New Grub Street, Arthur Wing Pinero’s The Second Mrs Tanqueray, Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poetry, Anthony Trollope’s Phineas Finn and a selection of decadent poetry.

Victorian Afterlives:

The point of my course was to look at the Victorians – how they were inspired by their predecessors (the Romantics) and how they inspired their successors (us). Afterlives was dedicated to the latter, encouraging us to examine “continuities and differences between the Victorians and their later critics, commentators and interpreters”. I didn’t really like this module, and ended up skipping most of the classes for it, oops!

We looked at direct rewritings of Victorian classics (both film and text), we looked at the artistic choices made when directing a film/TV adaptation, as well as how neo-Victorians writers rely on Victorian techniques to write a story. I wrote an essay on how Nelly Dean was adapted by Alison Case in Nelly Dean: A Return to Wuthering Heights. Case filled in the gaps of the original text, instead of directly rewriting it.

I studied the likes of: John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (and film adaptations), Doctor WhoDickensian, and Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent.

…my third and final semester is currently underway (I finish mid-September). All I have to do is my 15,000 word dissertation. I’ll probably write a piece on my findings once it’s uploaded and marked. But, yes, that’s my final uni module post. It’s been a journey, to say the least. I hope you enjoyed it!

Are you studying? What do you take, or what have you taken, and do/did you enjoy it? Let me know, it’s always interesting to hear other’s experiences!

Thanks for reading, Lauren X


6 thoughts on “Victorian Literature | Semester II:

  1. Good luck on your last term! I feel like masters programs are designed to make you question your love of a subject. Hopefully you get back into the groove of things soon. Your courses sound very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on pushing through! It can be so hard to keep motivated. My first semester was such a struggle because I was studying accounting, which I grew to really hate. I’ve now switched to business management, which is still not something I am interested in, but it’s only two years and I am just trying to get through it. Maybe one day I will go back and study something I love like history or English. Good luck finishing your studies!

    Liked by 1 person

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