MA Nineteenth Century Studies


LIT1020: Ways of Reading

This first year introductory literature module uses Victorian literature to explore various ways to engage with and analyse literary texts. The module begins with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, introducing students to formalist, psychoanalytic, postcolonial and medical humanities approaches to this classic novel. The module then explores Victorian poetry, the detective fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle, and Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

HIS3038: Special Subject – History of Interpersonal Violence

This year-long module examines the history of interpersonal violence in 19th and 20th century Britain. It begins with a broad theoretical examination of the definitions of violence, moral panics, the rise of new journalism, and the nature of masculinity. These theories will then be applied to historical analysis of particular forms of interpersonal violence, including gang violence, domestic violence, rape and murder.  The module encourages students to examine the extent to which interpersonal ‘violence’ is framed and defined less by everyday experience and more through the discourses and operation of the law and the print media. The courtroom and the newspapers can be interpreted as arenas in which this framing is played out, reinforced and modified. In the second semester, students undertake research on a project of their choice linked to themes of the module.

HIS2032: Digital Detectives

This second year optional history module explores the development of crime and punishment in the 18th and 19th centuries. It begins with a discussion of the ‘bloody code’ and public executions, before tracking transformations in punishment such as the introduction of transportation and imprisonment. It also considers the representation of crime and criminals in Victorian popular culture. The module is taught in computer labs and makes extensive use of digital tools and archives.

LIT3040: Victorians

This third year literature period survey analyses major Victorian authors like Charles Dickens and the Brontës in relation to significant cultural questions of the time, from evolution and empire to women’s rights. At the same time, the module also explores 19th-century popular culture and Victorian tastes for scandal, sensation, the supernatural, sex, and adventure.

LIT2046: British Children’s Literature

This second year optional literature module explores British children’s literature from the eighteenth century to the present day, analysing significant constructs of childhood from the Romantic child to the Victorian waif and beyond. Students study classics of the genre such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as well as more modern examples such as Julia Golding’s The Diamond of Drury Lane, a historical novel focusing on life in 1790s London.

LIT3045: Hosting a Literary Festival

This third year optional module offers students the opportunity to develop, plan, and host an event, celebrating a literary topic of their choice. Past events include a Festival of Forgotten Victorian Women, rediscovering significant women writers from the past and thinking about the future.

LIT2050: Romanticism

This second year literature period survey introduces students to the literature and culture of the Romantic period, 1750-1850, exploring representations of home and abroad, the literature of sensibility, the spirit of the age, as well as childhood, gender, and animal rights. Canonical Romantic poetry is studied alongside lesser-known examples of Romantic drama and historical fiction.

LIT3047: Postmodern Histories: Story and Memory

This module examines recent trends in literature that re-imagine historical figures and the space they occupy in cultural memory. With a particular focus on the nineteenth century, students will examine modern controversies for renowned Victorians like Lewis Carroll, as well as issues of truth and lies in Peter Carey’s rewriting of the mythology surrounding outlaw Ned Kelly and Margaret Atwood’s exploration of the fate of a sixteen-year-old ‘celebrated murderess’. This course considers postmodern (im)possibilities of life writing focusing on gaps and unresolved tensions that invite fictional retelling of the past in biofictions that transform the past for different desires and different times.

LIT2051: Special Author

Our Special Author modules allow students to study in depth the writings of a single author. The module is taught by staff who are experts in the works of the featured author. Featured authors in recent years have included: Jane Austen, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and the Brontes.

HUM4015: The Victorian City

This interdisciplinary MA module investigates the image and reality of the Victorian city in England. As a result of rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, urban centres became a source not only of interest but of fascination and anxiety in the nineteenth century. This engagement was vividly demonstrated in social accounts, journalism and popular fiction, particularly slum, detective and gothic fiction, through which social concerns about surveillance and safety were played out. The module brings together a range of historical, journalistic and literary documents from the period to facilitate students’ critical engagement with constructions of the city in the nineteenth century.

HIS3038: Special Subject – Read All About It

This year-long research module explores the history of journalism and print culture, with a particular focus on the Victorian era. It examines the emergence of the popular press and discusses topics such as women’s magazines, investigative journalism, the provincial press, and the so-called ‘Harmsworth Revolution.’ In the second semester, students undertake research on a project of their choice linked to the history of journalism. The module is taught in computer labs and makes extensive use of digital newspaper archives.

HUM4043: Neo-Victorian Fiction

This interdisciplinary MA module focuses on contemporary adaptation of the Victorian past. As part of a current trend of popularity for historical fiction, the Victorian period is crystallised as a site of creative and critical activity. The module investigates our enduring fascination with the Victorians considering the ways that nostalgia and self-conscious narrative experiment re-imagine an era.