Victorian Sensation Literature Fall 2002

Course Description:
ENG 329 (73566), 394 (09403): Fall 2002

Victorian Sensation Literature

In this course we will be studying the evolution of the literary and cultural phenomenon known to the nineteenth century as "sensation literature." Beginning with Shelley's drama about murder in the Renaissance, The Cenci, we will examine how the Victorians developed a taste for novels featuring the desperate exploits of characters harboring lurid secrets. We will also discuss the burgeoning influence in the Victorian Age of what Matthew Arnold called "The New Journalism," which flourished in Britain after the 1850s, and catered to the appetite for sensation already whetted by Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Thus, we will look at how The Pall Mall Gazette in the 1880s exploited middle class fears about working class sexuality and "de-moralization" in its series "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon" and "Bitter Cry of Outcast London." We will also discuss The Times' sensationalistic portrayal of a series of murders of prostitutes in London - the so-called "Whitechapel Horrors" (better known today as the "Jack-the-Ripper murders").

The reading list includes Collins' Woman in White, Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret, and Mrs. Wood's East Lynn. These will be supplemented by Shelley's drama The Cenci, a number of poems of Robert Browning, excerpts from the journalistic accounts mentioned above, and some essays by Victorian critics such as Margaret Oliphant and Matthew Arnold who were critical of the growing taste for titillating "sensation." In addition, we will examine Bram Stoker's Dracula as a novel which literalizes moral corruption at the heart of the domestic scene.

Students in the course will be involved in, among other things, researching and preparing out-of-copyright materials related to this topic for display on the Worldwide Web.

This team-taught course, which must be taken in conjunction with a one-credit technology lab, qualifies as an advanced course in Humanities computing for the Information Technology Certificate. You need not have previous experience with Humanities computing in order to take this course, only the ability to type and a willingness to learn some new computing skills. You will use the skills you develop in the technology lab to put together the assignments for the literature course. Thus, you will learn how to create and deliver a Powerpoint presentation, how to construct and manage a complex website, and how to create a Humanities database. All of these projects will focus on topics related to 19th century "sensation" literature. You will learn the use of the main programs in the Microsoft Office suite of programs (Word, Access, and Powerpoint) as well as Macromedia's Dreamweaver (for Web-editing and authoring) and Adobe Photoshop (for graphics). You are not required to purchase these programs in order to take this course. A room in the Computing Commons has been reserved for Wednesday nights for the technology lab. All the computers in this classroom are already equipped with these programs. We will make accommodations both for students who already have advanced skills in Humanities computing and for those with less familiarity with these tools.

Please note that the computing lab is a one credit segment. This means that it meets for 1 hour per week (not 3 as is indicated in the Schedule of Classes). The computing lab will be on Wednesdays, 6:05-7:05 PM.

You must register for both ENG 329 (Th 6:05-8:55, CPCOM 237, SLN: 73566) and ENG 394 (W 6:05-8:55, CPCOM 107, SLN: 09403) in order to be properly enrolled in this course.


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CBaldini 8/27/02