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Victorian Radicals, Revolution & Reform (ENGL20025)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeENGL20025
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject introduces nineteenth century political writing, tracing the cultures of radicalism, reaction and liberal reform that punctuated Queen Victoria’s reign. It focuses on the age of mass resistance, and the often fearful reactions that dissent inspired in social and political elites. Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities exemplifies the terror reverberating throughout the Victorian period, with its graphic crowd scenes and depictions of an underclass in revolt. We will examine literary responses to political issues including Chartism, European Revolutions, the Indian Mutiny‚ working-class radicalism, the Irish Question, and the emergence of the women’s movement. Students will address the rise of realism and its overtly political agenda. They will consider fiction, poetry and political prose to discover how these different media informed each other. Students will encounter polemical writing alongside well-known canonical texts to gain an overview of the political climate of the long Victorian period. On completion of this subject students will have gained an understanding of how this time of great change and uncertainty was captured in poetry and prose.

Intended learning outcomes

  • demonstrate a detailed knowledge of writing of the ‘long’ nineteenth century from 1837 to the 1901;
  • articulate an understanding of the social, political and economic contexts of a range of canonical nineteenth-century texts;
  • apply high-level analysis, conceptual sophistication and critical thinking to the study of nineteenth-century writing of revolution and reform;
  • contribute to the understanding of nineteenth-century writing in ways that engage the interests of the discipline of literary studies;
  • communicate effectively an understanding of nineteenth-century literature and its contexts in both written and oral formats; and
  • have an understanding of how to act as critically informed participants within a community of literature scholars.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, students should acquire the following generic skills:

  • research: through competent use of library, and other (including online) information sources; through the successful definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research;
  • critical thinking and analysis: through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the questioning of accepted wisdom and the ability to shape and strengthen persuasive judgments and arguments; through attention to detail in reading material; and through openness to new ideas and the development of critical self-awareness;
  • theoretical thinking: through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through a productive engagement with relevant methodologies and paradigms in literary studies and the broader humanities;
  • creative thinking: through essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the innovative conceptualising of problems and an appreciation of the role of creativity in critical analysis;
  • social, ethical and cultural understanding: through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the social contextualization of arguments and judgments; through adaptations of knowledge to new situations and openness to new ideas; through the development of critical self-awareness in relation to an understanding of other cultures and practices.
  • intelligent and effective communication of knowledge and ideas: through essay preparation, planning and writing as well as tutorial discussion. through effective dissemination of ideas from recommended reading and other relevant information sources. through clear definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research. through confidence to express ideas in public forums;
  • time management and planning: through the successful organization of workloads; through disciplined self-direction and the ability to meet deadlines.

Last updated: 27 April 2018