What is the course about?
We’ll be reading work by Charles Darwin, Tennyson, Dickens, Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold, Christina Rosetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, HG Wells and Oscar Wilde among others - and looking at how Victorian writers and painters expressed the hopes and fears of this extraordinary time.
Julian Birkett is a teacher and writer specialising in modern literature. He previously worked in the Arts department at the BBC as a producer of series such as The Late Show, Modern Poets in their Own Words, The Victorians and The Culture Show. He has taught in London and at the University of Mumbai.
What will we cover?
The explosion of the cities, the obsession with the home, the passion for the medieval, the bombshell of Darwinism, the crisis of Faith and Doubt, the rebellion of women, the might of Empire and the rise of decadence, among others.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Recognise recurring themes in the Victorian imagination
• Relate these to the wider world of Western culture
• Feel confident enough to explore further study of related fiction on your own.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is introductory. An enthusiasm for reading and discussion is all that is required.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Each week we’ll read and discuss two or three works (poems, extracts, pictures) on a common theme.
The course is an interactive mixture of tutor exposition and class discussion. Videos and clips will also be shown and discussed. You will asked to read the texts before the class.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will need to buy or borrow The Victorian Age: Norton Anthology of English Literature vol E (£20.55 new or second hand copies for half that price)
In addition, links will be provided to online material for discussion.
Apart from the reading material, you should bring with you pens, notepaper and file in which to store handouts and other course materials.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other literature courses under History, Culture and Writing at www.citylit.ac.uk.