The 'superfluous man' in 19th century literature

Course Dates: 20/04/21 - 08/06/21
Time: 19:45 - 21:15
Location: Online
This class explores the subject of the superfluous man in nineteenth-century literature. From disaffected dropouts to dissolute dandies, we investigate the origins of the subject in the Romantic movement, its flourishing in masterpieces of nineteenth-century Russian literature, and variations on its character and ideas in European and American literature up to the turn of the twentieth century.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £129.00 Concession £79.00

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Course Code: HLT65

Started Tue, eve, 20 Apr - 08 Jun '21

Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

The course looks at a major character type from 19th century Russian literature, the superfluous man, and examines how it developed and evolved throughout the 19th century. Frequently a disaffected individual for a range of psychological, political or cultural reasons, the character offers a unique way to read the literature of the 19th century in both European and American contexts.

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.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

The class will cover texts by Byron, Stendhal, Lermontov, Melville, Dostoevsky, Hamsun, Baudelaire and Wilde. In addition to examining the work of each individual writer, the class will chart the development of literary style across the 19th century, from Romanticism to Realism to Modernism, through the prism of the character of the “superfluous man”.

Texts for Reading:
Second-hand copies of paperbacks are recommended and are very cheaply available. I’ve also included links to free online copies of the texts below.

• Lord Byron, Manfred (1816),_a_dramatic_poem
• Stendhal, The Red and the Black (1830)
• Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time (1841)
• Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1853)
• Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (1864)
• Knut Hamsun, Hunger (1890)
• Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Students will have developed their literary, historical, and critical knowledge and expression, through varied reading on 19th century literature.
• Students should develop understanding of key 19th century works, and a knowledge of the main historical, literary and political contexts of nineteenth century literature.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No particular skills are needed other than an interest in literature, reading and discussion.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The class will be held in 1½ -hour sessions over ten weeks. The first half hour will be an interactive lecture on the text, writer, themes and contexts. The following hour will be a round table and small group discussion of the texts/films in detail.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No other costs. Just bring along a copy of the relevant text for discussion each week.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Have a look at other literature courses at, culture & writing/literature.

Richard Niland

Richard Niland has published widely on Joseph Conrad and a range of other 19th and 20th century writers. He taught for many years at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow and is interested in the various intersections of literature, culture, politics, music and film in different global contexts.

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.