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Sample Syllabus: The Victorian Age


English 342: The Victorian Age


(n.b. The course covers the poetry and non-fiction prose; by department policy, it excludes the Novel)


Required Text: Dorothy Mermin and Herbert F. Tucker.   Victorian Literature: 1830-1900.


Recommended Text: Richard D. Altick, Victorian People and Ideas


This syllabus and other materials are (or soon will be) on line through Blackboard.


As befits the energetic accomplishments of the Victorians, there is a lot of reading in the course.  The biggest challenge will be “In Memoriam” (Feb. 15)—start reading it right away!  But Browning’s “Pippa Passes”  (Feb. 24) is also long.  Not everything on the syllabus will come up in class discussion.   Read it all anyway. Please read the editors’ introduction to each writer.


Th Jan. 20            Introduction: The Victorian Age


Victorian Traits: A Sampling


T Jan. 25            Macaulay: from Minute on Indian Education (196-198), State of England in 1685 (excerpts: 199-1st para 200; 203-205); Kipling: Recessional (1092); The White Man’s Burden (1092-1093); E.B. Browning: The Cry of the Children (341-343); Clough: The Latest Decalogue (680); Proctor: Homeless (781-782); Webster: A Castaway (938-945); Mayhew: London Street Markets (22-23), Of the Coster-Girls (24-26), Of the Mud-Larks (26-28)


Th Jan. 27            Carlyle: from Signs of the Times (165-172), Gospel of Mammonism (190-192), Happy (192-194), Labour (online and handout); Pater: Preface and Conclusion to The Renaissance (954-955, 959-960); Dowson: Non Sum Qualis … (1095), Vitae summa ... (1095), Benedictio Domini (1095); Field: A Portrait (1009-1010)*, It was deep April … (1012), Cyclamens (1012);  Wilde: Impression du Matin (1017),   Symphony in Yellow (1017); Preface (1018) * see:




T Feb. 1            Ellis: from The Women of England (84-85); Lewis: from Woman’s Mission (86-87); Ladies’ National Association: Petition (94-95); E.B. Browning: The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point (347-351); Ruskin: The Nature of Gothic (613-622); Morris: How I Became a Socialist (897-899); Tennyson: in anticipation of In Memoriam:  Prologue, Sections 1, 7, 48, 118, 119, 120, 123, Epilogue (409-410, 412, 422, 441-442, 444-446)


The Major Poets


Th Feb. 3            E.B. Browning: Sonnets From the Portuguese (351-358)


T Feb. 8             E.B. Browning: Sonnets (cont); from Aurora Leigh, First Book (359-372), A Curse for a Nation (372-373)


Th Feb. 10            Tennyson: Mariana (382), The Lady of Shalott (385-387), To----- (390), The Palace of Art (390-394)


T Feb. 15            Tennyson: The Lotos-Eaters (394-396), Ulysses (399-400), Locksley Hall (404-408),  In Memoriam (409-446). 


Th Feb. 17            Tennyson: In Memoriam (cont.)


T Feb. 22            Tennyson: In Memoriam (cont.)


Th Feb. 24            Tennyson: In Memoriam (cont.);  Hardy: Hap (980); R. Browning: Pippa Passes (online and handout)


T Mar. 1            R. Browning: My Last Duchess (544), Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister (546-548), Bishop Orders His Tomb (549-551), Fra Lippo Lippi (553-557),


Th Mar. 3            R. Browning: Childe Roland (567-570), How It Strikes a Contemporary (570-571), Memorabilia ( 571), Andrea del Sarto (571-574),


F Mar. 4           Computing Proficiency Assignment due via e-mail (  by 4 p.m.


T Mar. 8/Th Mar. 10 Spring Break


T Mar. 15            Mid-term Exam


Th Mar. 17            Arnold: Resignation (704-707); The Buried Life (710-711); The Scholar –Gipsy (711-714); Stanzas from The Grande Chartreuse (714-716)


T Mar. 22            Arnold: Thyrsis (717-720); Dover Beach (720); Preface (721-727)


Th Mar. 24            Arnold:   Function of Criticism (727-739); from Culture and Anarchy (739-753); Paper Due


T Mar. 29            D.G. Rossetti: The Blessed Damozel (801-803), My Sister's Sleep (803-804), Jenny (806-811), The Woodspurge (811), from The House of Life (812-816);  Buchanan: The Fleshly School of Poetry (144-148) (in lieu of a lecture on the Pre-Raphaelites, please explore <>.


Th Mar. 31            D.G. Rossetti  (cont.); C. Rossetti: In an Artist’s Studio (845-846); Birchington Churchyard, An Echo from Willow-wood (867); Elizabeth Siddal: The Lust of the Eyes, Worn Out, At Last, Love and Hate (online and handout)


T Apr. 5            C. Rossetti: A Birthday, Up-Hill (846),  Goblin Market (846-852), Remember, After Death (854), Winter: My Secret, Song (855-856), A Better Resurrection (858), Field: To Christina Rossetti (1012-1013)


Th Apr. 7            C. Rossetti: Monna Innominata (863-867)


T Apr. 12            Morris:  Defence of Guenevere (879-883), The Haystack in the Floods (887-889), The Blue Closet (886-887); An Apology (890), The Judgment of God (online and handout).  For “The Blue Closet” (and other of DGR’s paintings), see <>.  Tennyson: excerpt from “Guinevere” (handout and on line)


Th Apr. 14            Swinburne: from Atalanta in Calydon (902-903), Triumph of Time (905-910); Anactoria (910-913), Hymn to Proserpine (913-915), from Notes on Poems and Reviews and William Blake (924-928)


T Apr. 19            Swinburne: The Garden of Proserpine (917--918), Ave Atque Vale (918-921); A Forsaken Garden (921-922), Poeta Loquitur (923-924)


Th Apr. 21            Hopkins: Spring, God's Grandeur, The Windhover,  Pied Beauty,  Hurrahing in Harvest (995-996)


T Apr. 26            Hopkins: Wreck of the Deutschland (989-994), Author's Preface (handout); letters of August 21, 1877, October 5, 1878 (1004-1005)


Th Apr. 28            Hopkins: Carrion Comfort, No worst, there is none, I wake and feel the fell of dark, That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire (997-999); Hardy, The Darkling Thrush (986)             Paper Due


Tests: Midterm, T Mar. 15 (15% of the course grade); Final, M May 2, 8:30 a.m. (25%)


Papers: Two, due class time Th Mar. 24 and Th Apr. 28, typed and signed with the honor pledge.  The first will be on Tennyson, one of the Brownings, or Arnold.  The second will be on D. G. Rossetti, C. Rossetti, Morris, Swinburne, or Hopkins.  One or the other, your choice, must use several printed secondary sources (and none from the web) and will be worth 35% of the course grade.  The other, again your choice, must be done without secondary sources and will count 25% of the course grade.  See separate sheet for details.  And see the note below on the required two drafts to be handed in with the final copy.


Computing Proficiency Assignment: Your work towards the research-oriented paper (or other subject) will meet the Department’s Computer Proficiency Requirement.  It will be due via e-mail by F Mar. 4, 4 p.m. (extensions on this freely given if you want to send it in by 4 p.m. the Wednesday of Spring Break).  See separate sheet.


Office: Tucker 123;       Hours: tkttk,, or by appointment.


Telephone/e-mail: ext. 3932 (home: 253-0707);

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A Note on Writing Papers:  Early in the semester I’ll spend some time reviewing some things you should keep in mind as you write your papers.     

But the best advice I can offer is, start early and revise often, in big and little ways. 

Revising is so important that I require you to hand in with your final copy at least two of the drafts that preceded it.  

I accept drafts in two forms; 1) printouts with revisions and changes drafted in pencil or ink  (I highly recommend this approach);  2) an e-mail attachment of a copy of the final form of the paper as drafted in WORD with the “Track Changes” feature engaged; due by 3 p.m. the due date of the paper.  (Option 2 subject to review.)

Being able to check how you write and rewrite helps me in marking and evaluating your work.

N.B.  Drafting is part of the assignment--papers submitted without evidence of drafts do not completely fulfill the assignment and will be dropped two whole grades.