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2010/11 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3875 Victorian Modernity: Literature and Politics in the 1840s

20 creditsClass Size: 10


Module manager: Dr Richard Salmon

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2010/11

Module replaces

ENGL3890 Victorian Modernity: Fiction, History and Myth

This module is not approved as an Elective


On completion of this module, students will have gained a substantial knowledge of Victorian literature of the 1840s, encompassing a variety of literary genres and focussed specifically upon the relationship between literature, politics, and modernity.

Learning outcomes
Students will have developed:
- the ability to use written and oral communication effectively;
- the capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse;
- the ability to manage quantities of complex information in a structured and systematic way;
- the capacity for independent thought and judgement;
- critical reasoning;
- research skills, including the retrieval of information, the organisation of material and the evaluation of its importance;
- IT skills;
- efficient time management and organisation skills;
- the ability to learn independently.

Skills outcomes
- Skills for effective communication, oral and written.
- Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
- Ability to acquire quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way.
- Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
- Critical reasoning.
- Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.
- IT skills.
- Time management and organisational skills.
- Independent learning.


In recent criticism Victorian literature has increasingly come to be seen not in distinction from 'modern' literature, but as forming part of a longer history of cultural responses to the experience of modernity. This module explores some of the ways in which Victorian writing engages with the modernity of its historical situation, reflecting both the anxieties and excitements of radical social change.

The module concentrates specifically upon literature of the 1840s, the first full decade of the Victorian period and one marked by acute social conflict in Britain as well as revolutions elsewhere in Europe. Literature produced during this decade is particularly characterized by its explicit awareness of contemporary cultural upheaval and a sense of dislocation between the present and the historical past.

Students will read a range of writings from the 1840s, focussing primarily on developments within the novel, but also including some poetry and social criticism. Particular attention will be given to the relationship between literature and politics during the period, and this will include the consideration of such issues as the development of industrial capitalism, class conflict, representations of the modern city, commodity culture and changing constructions of gender.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours185.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Teaching will be through weekly seminars (10 x 1 hour) plus up to 5 additional hours (content to be determined by the module tutor). The 5 additional hours may include lectures, plenary sessions, film showings, or the return of unassessed/assessed essays.

Private Study: Reading, seminar preparation and essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Contribution to seminars
- 1 x 1,700 word unassessed essay.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

One unassessed essay of 1,700 words is required. This does not form part of the assessment for this module, but is a requirement and MUST be submitted. Students who fail to submit the unassessed essay will be awarded a maximum mark of 40 for the module (a bare Pass).

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 02/02/2011


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