English 320: Victorian Literature
"Love and Sex in the Victorian Age"
Spring Term 2007
Professor Kenneth  McNeil 
Office phone: 5-4578 
e-mail: mcneilk@easternct.edu
Office: Webb Hall  234

Office Hours: 
Monday, Wednesday 11:00-12:30
Tuesday, Thursday 1:45-2:45
And by apppointment 


Required Materials
Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (Broadview edition)
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret (Broadview edition)
Thomas Hardy, Tess of The D'Urbervilles (Broadview edition)
Bram Stoker, Dracula (Broadview edition)
Copy Packet

Course Description
We in the highly sexed early 21st century often assume that the Victorians were quite a prudish lot.  We tend to think of quiet tea parties where frank discussions about anything, least of all sex, were strictly taboo.  The Victorians, it is assumed, said "white meat" instead of "breast"; Victorian women only thought of sex as a means to producing children and caged themselves from neck to foot in stiff crinoline and whalebone.  Was this true?  Were the Victorians scandalized by even the very mention of sex or of sexual desire?  How "Victorian" were their ideas about love and sex before and after marriage?  How was sexual desire thought to be divided along gender lines?  What were Victorian assumptions about female or male sexuality?  What were Victorian attitudes about  gay or lesbian desire?

This course will examine the often complex attitudes about love and sex in Victorian Britain and seek to test the assumption that the Victorian age was simply a repressed one, in which all natural sexual feelings were regarded as sinful.  Afterall, the Victorian age also saw an explosion of scientific and psychological thinking on the very nature of human love and sexuality.  We will therefore take an interdisciplinary look at Victorian ideas about sex and love as reflected in literature and other cultural works, such as art works, travel narratives, pamphlets, essays, and trial proceedings.

Course Requirements
Literary Essay paper 20%
Response papers 35%
    Response One
    Response Two
    Response Three
    Response Four
Presentation 10%
Quizzes 5%
Final 20%
Participation 10%

Literary Essay
You will have the opportunity to write a literary analysis (5-7 pages) on the literature we will cover.
During the 13th week of the class, you will meet with me for a 20-minute or so conference of your Literary Essay topic.

Response Papers
There are four response papers, one due about every fourth  week. You are to respond to any one day’s questions from the list. Response questions must be typed, double-spaced and turned in on the day that you have selected. For example, answers to questions from February 11th’s reading must be turned in on that day.

Papers are due in class on the assigned date. Late papers will be subject to a reduction in grade. If you feel you have a good reason for requiring an extension, please come talk to me about it beforehand. However, after-due date extensions, except in the case of emergencies, will be difficult to obtain.

Avoid plagiarism (stealing the exact words or ideas of another) like the plague. In this class acts of plagiarism incur a zero and could also result in course failure.

At some point early in the semester I will divide the class into four or five groups. Each group will then be given the task of putting together an oral presentation. There are several throughout the semester. Each presentation will be devoted on a specific topic. (See the Calendar for specific topics) Each presentation should be at least 15 minutes (and last no more than 20 minutes) and must include at least one handout to be given to the class as a whole. In addition you must provide me with a bibliography of your research materials in MLA format. Beyond the handout and the bibliography, the materials and format of the presentations are only limited by the group's imagination and may include use of a variety of media. .

In addition to a cumulative final exam, there will be three short surprise quizzes given throughout the semester.  These are intended merely to give friendly encouragement to keep up with the assigned reading in class (not always an easy task given the length of the average Victorian triple-volume).

Regular attendance of classes is absolutely expected for this course. Three or more unexcused absences will lower your participation grade significantly.

Week 1
January 23: Introduction.

January 25: Matthew Arnold, "The Buried Life," "To Marguerite"

Week 2
January 30: George Meredith selections from Modern Love

February 1: Alfred, Lord Tennyson "Mariana"

Week 3
February 6: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, selections from Sonnets from the Portuguese

February 8: Robert Browning, "My Last Duchess," "Porphyria's Lover"

Student Response, Jenna LaFlamme: Comparing the Works of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Week 4
February 13: Pre-Raphaelite Day

February 15: Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (read to pg. ? beginning of Marian's diary)
Oral Presentation: Assumption on Gender Differences and Sex

Week 5
February 20: Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (read to pg. ?, Chapter VIII of Marian's diary)

February 22: Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (read to pg. ?)
Student Response: The "Marriage Plot" in The Woman in White
(warning:  reveals details about the ending)

Week 6
February 27: Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (read to end)

March 1: Harriet Martineau, "The Hareem" from Eastern Life, Past and Present

Student Response, John Macy: Harriet Martineau's "The Hareem" from Eastern Life, Past and Present

Week 7
March 6: Henry Mayhew, "Prostitutes in London" from London Labour and the London Poor

March 8: Thomas Hardy, Tess of The D'Urbervilles (read to  pg 131, Chapter XVI)
Oral Presentation: Prostitution

Week 8
March 13: Thomas Hardy, Tess of The D'Urbervilles (read to pg. 229, Chapter XXXII)

Student Response: Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Alec and Tess

March 15: Thomas Hardy, Tess of The D'Urbervilles (read to pg. 300, Chapter XLI)

Week 9
Spring Break!

Week 10
Oral Presentation: Courtship

March 27: Thomas Hardy, Tess of The D'Urbervilles (read to end)

March 29: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, selections; Christina Rossetti, "Goblin Market"

Week 11
April 3:Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret (read to pg. 153, Chapter XVI)

April 5: Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret (read to pg. 246, Vol. 2, Chapter VIII)

Week 12
Oral Presentation: Marriage

April 10: Mary Elizabeth Braddon,  Lady Audley's Secret (read to pg. 352, Vol. 3, Chapter III)

Student Response:Robert and George’s Relationship in Lady Audley’s Secret

April 12: Mary Elizabeth Braddon,  Lady Audley's Secret  (read to end)
Student Response:  Victorian Manliness in Lady Audley's Secret

Week 13 Paper Conference week: sign up for a conference

April 17: NEW Location!!! Meet in our regular classroom: Shafer 10

April 19: Algernon Charles Swinburne, selections

Week 14
April 24: Edward Carpenter, "Homogenic Love"
Oral Presentation:  Gay and Lesbian Sexuality

April 26: Bram Stoker, Dracula (read to pg. 154, Chapter X)

Week 15
May 1:Bram Stoker, Dracula (read to pg. 232, Chapter XV)

May 3:Bram Stoker, Dracula (read to pg. 342, Chapter XXIII)

Week 16
May 8: Bram Stoker, Dracula (read to end)
Research Essay Paper  Due

Exam Week
Final exam: Tuesday, May 15th, 12:30-2:30

A Bibliography on Sex and Love in the Victorian Age

Some Useful Links
The Victorian Web
The Victorian Research Web
Victorian Literature
19th-Century Sensation Fiction

Gay and Lesbian Sexuality:
Gay History and Literature

Sex and Culture:
An Introduction to Freudian Psychology

"If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need accommodations for this class, it is your responsibility to contact the Office of Disability Services at (860) 465-5573.  To avoid any delay in the receipt of accommodations, you should contact the Office of Disability Services as soon as possible.  Please understand that I cannot provide accommodations based upon disability until I have received an accommodation letter from the Office of Disability Services.  Your cooperation is appreciated."

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