Humanities Seminars Course: Mid-Victorian England, A Cultural History

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 1:00pm to Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - 3:00pm
Rubel Room, Poetry Center 1508 E. Helen Street Tucson, AZ 85721
WEDNESDAYS 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. September 30 - December 16, 2015. No class on November 11 and 25, 2015. Register here.

Tuition: $150

How can we best know the past, and how much can we really know of it?

This interdisciplinary course will seek answers to these questions in relation to mid-Victorian England. We will read primary material published around 1859, providing a “snapshot” of a particularly important moment in the middle of one of the world’s most interesting centuries. The readings will include two novels and diverse original texts drawn from political, economic, scientific, social, and popular writing. Expect authors as well-known as Karl Marx and as new to modern readers as Isabella Beeton, whose book on domestic management invented the genre Martha Stewart now commands. Darwin’s writings will provide an interesting context for examining George Eliot’s novel about human instinct, while G. H. Lewes’s Physiology of Common Life will offer a glimpse into medicoscientific thinking of the time. Other readings explore the Great Exhibition of 1851, popular economics, London street life, and political theory.

Required Reading: 

Makepeace Thackeray, William. Vanity Fair. Ed. John Carey. Penguin Classics, 2003. ISBN-10: 0141439831.

Eliot, George. Adam Bede. Ed. Margaret Reynolds. Penguin Classics, 2008. ISBN-10: 0140436642.

LAURA C. BERRY is Associate Professor of English at the University of Arizona and Associate Dean of The Honors College.  She is the author of The Child, the State and the Victorian Novel, and numerous articles on Dickens, the Brontes, George Eliot, and Victorian literature and culture.  She received her doctorate from UC Berkeley in 1992.