Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE English Fiction of the Nineteenth Century: An Introduction

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit reviews the historical background to the novel form in the nineteenth century. The changes in the status of women, the rise of the middle class, new developments in science, as well as the questioning of traditional intellectual and religious attitudes are all reflected in the major novels of the period. Students are introduced to three major examples of nineteenth century fiction, exploring the thematic concerns in the novels while studying the literary methods employed by the authors.

The following novels will be discussed in detail: Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

Further recommended reading might include: Austen's Emma; Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton; Charlotte Bronte's Shirley; Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall;Charles Kingsley's Alton Locke; Benjamin Disraeli's Sybil, or The Two Nations.

Norton Critical Editions (when available) of these primary texts are recommended.

Study-unit Aims:

- To present three foundational English novels of the first half of the nineteenth century;
- To teach the most important thematic concerns of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Emily Bronte in relation to the social and religious concerns of the period;
- To demonstrate convergences and divergences between the set texts;
- To examine the narrative techniques used by the three writers and to connect these with the development of the novel in the nineteenth century and beyond;
- To teach the critical terms required for the literary analysis of the nineteenth century novel.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Understand the development of the novel form in Britain;
- Appreciate Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights;
- Discern the literary treatment of political and social concerns of nineteenth century Britain;
- Identify the influences between the texts studied, or how they converge or diverge in their literary construction of the nineteenth century in Britain.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Recognise the influence of a particular period of history upon selected novels written at the time;
- Understand how artistic endeavour was influenced by nineteenth century society;
- Discern the literary techniques employed by writers in the developing the genre of the novel;
- Produce advanced textual/critical commentary upon selected texts from the literature studied.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Pride and Prejudice
- Jane Eyre
- Wuthering Heights

Supplementary readings:

- Houghton, Walter E. The Victorian frame of mind, 1830-1870. (Yale:1985).
- Jenni Calder, Women and Marriage in Victorian Fiction (Oxford: 1976).
- Barbara Hardy, Forms of Feeling in Victorian Fiction (Methuen Publishing: 1986).
- Patricia Meyer Spacks, The Female Imagination (Knopf: 1975).
- Ian Watt (ed.), Jane Austen: A Collection of Critical Essays (Prentice Hall: 1990).
- Tony Tanner, Jane Austen (Palgrave Macmillan: 2007).
- Juliet McMaster, Jane Austen the Novelist (Palgrave Macmillan:1992).
- Barbara Timm Gates, Critical Essays on Charlotte Bronte (G. K. Hall & Company: 1990).
- Tom Winnifrith, The Brontes and their Background (Macmillan:1988).
- Jeanette King, Jane Eyre (Open Guides to Literature)(Open University Press:1986).
- Miriam Allott, Jane Eyre & Villette (Casebook Series) (Macmillan:1973).
- Wuthering Heights, (Casebook Series) (Macmillan: 1970).
- Sandra M. Gilbert & Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic (Yale UP: 1984).
- Graham Holderness, Wuthering Heights (Open Guides to Literature) (Open University Press: 1985).
- Kathleen Tillotson, Novels of the Eighteen Forties (Clarendon:1956).


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Stella Borg Barthet
Giuliana Fenech

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