English 362/951: Victorian Period Literature (Summer 2021)

Victorian Literature – Summer Term 2 TTh 6-9 p.m.

NOTE: This course will be web-based: 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): Victorian Gothic Terror and Horror

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

“Vampires do exist” – Bram Stoker’s 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 a chill to the bright summer evenings 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 (especially photography), 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.

Core texts include Margaret Oliphant’s The Library Window, Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, and the following short fiction: M.R. James, “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”; Elizabeth Gaskell, “The Old Nurse’s Story”; Charlotte Riddell, “The Open Door”; Sheridan LeFanu, “An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street”; R.L. Stevenson, “The Body Snatcher”; E. Nesbit, “John Charrington’s Wedding”. 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 and The Turn of the Screw 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 or VitalSource (use the ISBN 9781460402078 for The Turn of the Screw; run a title search for The Library Window), and The Library Window is available on GooglePlay.

You may use alternate editions of any of these texts as long as they are unabridged (beware of very cheap quickly produced ebook editions of public-domain texts; you might as well look on Project Gutenberg as they’re more likely to be complete and accurate). However, the Broadviews are reasonably priced and have very useful introductions and supplementary primary-source material from the time of publication.

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

Evaluation will be based on two essays, a take-home final exam, and participation in discussion on the course’s Canvas site.

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


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