English 362/001 19th-Century Studies (September 2020)

Victorian Literature – Term 1 MWF 2 p.m.

NOTE: This course will be Web-oriented: it will be fully online and delivered through Canvas. This status differs from that of courses developed by CTLT and offered through Distance Learning. It also retains a registration cap.

Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

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Ghosts are Real (So are Vampires): Nineteenth-Century Gothic Terror and Horror

“Ghosts are real, this much I know” – Edith Cushing, Crimson Peak

“There are such beings as vampires; some of us have evidence that they exist” – Abraham Van Helsing, Dracula

Whether we take Edith Cushing or Abraham Van Helsing at their word, the 19th-century Gothic revival certainly emphasized possibilities for terror and horror in tales of the supernatural. However, these interventions of spectral and un-dead beings often take place in the recognizable present; they speak to its anxieties. Perhaps they speak to ours as well, given our recent fascination with Neo-Victorian representations of the 19th century, such as Penny DreadfulFrom HellCrimson Peak, etc. We will add to the chill of autumn’s darkening days as we examine stories addressing issues of gender and sexuality; class, race, and culture; realism and the supernatural; urban and rural settings, all in a century known for developments in science and technology, social upheaval, and a veneer of respectability, yet with monsters lurking in closets and under beds. Our focus will also permit consideration of the boom in publication of popular literature in a variety of formats, as well as the rise of the professional writer during the 19th century.

This course will proceed in a fully online form using Canvas, and will involve a combination of asynchronous (notes, links, discussion forums, slides and videos) and synchronous (short live lectures and discussion) materials. I will make sure that the full course is accessible to all students. Evaluation will be based on a midterm essay, a term paper involving secondary academic research, a take-home final exam, and participation in discussion.

Core texts include Margaret Oliphant’s The Library Window, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, and short fiction by authors including M.R. James, Charlotte Riddell, Elizabeth Gaskell, E. Nesbit, and Robert Louis Stevenson. A page of links to the short stories is in the Notes and Course Materials Module on our Canvas site, as well as a link to the Project Gutenberg edition of Carmilla.

The Broadview editions of The Library Window, Dracula, and A Christmas Carol are all available as ebooks through the UBC Bookstore (and all are required, despite what the bookstore site says); you can also buy Broadview ebooks on RedShelf (all three), VitalSource (The Library Window and Dracula – search for the latter using the ISBN: 9781551111360), and GooglePlay (The Library Window is easy to find using a title search; search using the ISBN for Dracula – 9781551111360 and A Christmas Carol – 9781551114767).

You may use alternate editions of any of these texts as long as they are unabridged. However, the Broadviews are reasonably priced and have useful introductions and supplementary primary-source material from the time of publication.

Any material in Library Online Course Reserve (accessible through the Canvas site)will be available in full text online.

Keep checking this post for updates concerning the course, its texts, and its requirements.

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