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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL5830M Apprentices to Life: The Nineteenth-Century Bildungsroman

30 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Richard Salmon

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective


On completion of this module, students will have gained a detailed knowledge of the emergence and development of the genre of the Bildungsroman (novel of education or apprenticeship) in English-language fiction of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Students will have developed a thorough understanding of the critical concept of the Bildungsroman, and of the ways in which it may be applied to the study of (predominantly) Victorian narrative fiction, including an awareness of issues of cultural translation.

Learning outcomes
Critical understanding of an important genre of the Victorian novel and of its development through the Nineteenth Century and beyond.
Knowledge of the translation and incorporation of the idea of Bildung (or self-formation) into British literary culture from its European sources.
Knowledge of the representation of childhood, adolescence, and young adult development in Nineteenth-Century fiction.


The German word ‘Bildungsroman’ - meaning in translation ‘novel of formation’ or ‘novel of education’ - has entered common critical parlance in English literary studies as a way of categorizing one of the most popular and influential generic forms of the modern novel. Nowadays, ‘Bildungsroman’ is a label given to novels written under widely differing cultural and historical conditions, many of which bear scant relation to the original nineteenth-century contexts and usage of the term. In this module, however, we will explore the long and rich tradition of the nineteenth-century Bildungsroman in English, which first emerged in self-conscious imitation of Continental European models but went on to develop its own distinctive characteristics as a genre. Many prominent Victorian novelists sought to document the processes of self-formation though narrative fiction. A common feature of their texts is an intense focus on the experiences of childhood, adolescence, and/or early adulthood which comprise what G.H. Lewes termed the ‘apprenticeship of life’.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours280.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Weekly reading and research assignments in preparation for seminars and essay writing

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

One unassessed essay of 1000 words which may include an extended plan for the assessed essay will be required during the seminar programme.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 word essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 15/08/2023 12:47:52


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