Short Course Description
This course will explore how Victorians conceived of themselves as individual selves, and how various social and economic forces influenced the cultural belief in the very ability to be a self-determining individual. We will read major works in the tradition of the Bildungsroman (the novel of formation) in their socio-historical contexts. For Victorians who were humbled and enthralled by the unprecedented challenges of their era (the rise of the middle class, capitalist economy, overpopulation, imperial expansion, scientific advancement and a crisis of faith, to name but a few), Bildungsroman protagonists who overcame obscure origins to achieve personal and social success became the new fairy tale heroes and heroines. Alongside classical examples of the genre, we will read what may be considered ?Anti-Bildungsroman? novels, that revise and disturb the genre to reveal the cracks in the cultural dream of the liberal individual, a dream from which Western culture has yet to awaken. Novels may include Charlotte Bronte?s Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens?s Great Expectations, George Eliot?s The Mill on the Floss, Thomas Hardy?s Jude the Obscure, and Oscar Wilde?s The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Full syllabus is to be published