Dickens and Trollope: Giants of the 19th Century Novel
Time: 14:45 - 16:45
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HLT253
Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)
What is the course about?
This online literature course focuses on novels from the end of the nineteenth century – a time of huge upheaval in Britain which also produced some of the best works from the period’s most famous authors. Anthony Trollope wrote an outstanding number of novels throughout his career, but his standalone novel The Way We Live Now offers a unique insight into social, political, and financial changes during this time. Whilst Trollope’s satirical blockbuster is focused on the urban landscape in the way it conjures up foggy Victorian London, we will also consider Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) as a rural counterpoint in its depiction of the changes to traditions and spaces in the British countryside.
We will also explore Dickens’s last, and unfinished, novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which has fascinated readers and scholars in its themes, style and the ways in which it bookends Dickens’s (also lengthy!) oeuvre. Despite being unfinished, the novel is rich in its late Victorian setting, classically odd Dickensian characters and the permanent mystery of its unresolved plot. Each of these novels offers a fascinating insight into the late Victorian era, but across this 8-week course we will see how they also grapple with many issues which are still prominent in society today: family relationships, gender roles, societal pressures, the cost of living and inheritance.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• The social and cultural upheaval of the late Victorian period
• The popularity of these authors and texts and why they remain key today
• Characterisation in Victorian novels.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Compare social issues of the nineteenth century with those we still face today
• Understand the role the Industrial Revolution played in these novels
• Recognise the importance of serialisation to late Victorian novels.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Only an interest in the texts under discussion is necessary.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Some short contextual lectures with Powerpoints, but this course is primarily an interactive mix of large group work and discussion with some smaller group discussions in breakout rooms. Work outside class is reading the set texts and any necessary secondary reading.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Being classics, these texts are available in many editions or forms. If you already own a copy you would like to use please do, but if buying new the tutor recommends the Penguin or Oxford Classics editions.
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope  (Recommended: Penguin edition 1994)
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy  (Recommended: Oxford edition 2008)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood  (Recommended: Oxford edition 2009)
The tutor will provide digital materials and/or links to any additional secondary reading.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other literature courses under History, Culture and Writing/Literature at www.citylit.ac.uk.
Dr Beatrice Ashton-Lelliott completed her PhD in English Literature at the University of Portsmouth, examining the autobiographies of nineteenth-century magicians and representations of conjuring in Victorian literature. Her other research interests include contemporary Japanese literature, occulture, Romanticism and fantasy fiction. She has been awarded a JSPS postdoctoral fellowship at Waseda University in Tokyo for 2022.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.