Instructor: Heller T 11:00am-1:50pm
Topic: Marriage Therapy: Approaching Victorian Literature through Dysfunctional Domesticity
We tend to associate Victorians with the Angel in the House, and the celebration of domesticity as a refuge from industrial ills. Victorian literature, however, is populated by dysfunctional families, failed marriages, and fallen (rather than angelic) women. In this seminar, we’ll use representations of problematic domesticity as an introduction to the rich variety of Victorian literature, and a lens through which to examine the engagement of that literature with the age’s central cultural anxieties—anxieties largely arising from the changing and contested status of women, but also involving concerns about masculinity, class, race, and national identity. We will read primary works alongside critical essays that showcase contemporary theoretical approaches to Victorian literature. Texts will include Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield (1850), Ellen Wood’s sensation novel East Lynne (1861), excerpts from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (1859), and Victoria Cross’s best-selling, and highly controversial, tale of interracial romance, Anna Lombard (1901).