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Victorian Literature, Art and Culture

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Victorian Literature, Art and Culture

MA
  • Option 1 year full time or 2 years part time
  • Year of entry 2021
  • Campus Egham

The course

Taught by experts from the Centre for Victorian Studies, this course offers you the opportunity to study nineteenth-century literature and art history in the midst of the outstanding Victorian architecture of our Egham campus.  With the magnificent Victorian Founder’s Building and unique resources including the College’s own Victorian Picture Gallery and archives you couldn’t ask for a better location in which to study this fascinating period.

A central element of the course is the study of Victorian London; you will explore a variety of texts from a range of perspectives, from Dickens to the phenomenon of the department store; from the painters of fashionable life to the panic surrounding the Whitechapel murders.  With London just a short train ride away from the main College campus, you will benefit from first-hand experience of the Victorian cityscape and access to archives.

You will also complete three other courses covering specialist areas of this rich period of literature and art and immerse yourself in a topic of your choice when completing the dissertation.

For some of you, the shift to online learning will be unfamiliar, but the department of English has been providing resources and learning support online for some time through TeacherHub>English. Primarily aimed at teachers of English Literature at KS5, TeacherHub>English also provides an insight into our MAs by introducing you to our staff and to a range of materials which can support your studies. On our teaching resources page, you will find colleagues introducing ways of studying key Victorian texts. We have also rounded up a range of the best freely available resources to support your studies through the Covid-19 crisis.

Core Modules

  • This module aims to provide an advanced understanding of the complex field of aestheticism in nineteenth-century literature and culture, with particular attention to concepts of ‘decadence’ and the relationship between the written word and the visual arts. Classes cover key theoretical and critical interventions into nineteenth-century aesthetic debates, from Ruskin and Pater through to Oscar Wilde and selected women writers of the 1880s and 1890s. 

  • This module is designed to introduce you to a number of key topics related to the methods of postgraduate research, and to some of the resources and materials that will be useful to your studies.

  • This module provides a point of coherence for the interdisciplinary study of Victorian Culture. You will be introduced to the theories and methods of a variety of humanities disciplines through the medium of an in-depth study of the literature, history, geography, and visual culture of nineteenth-century London. You will be asked to reflect critically on your own approach to the material studied, through engagement with both primary materials and a variety of recent secondary sources.

  • This module aims to equip you with a systematic understanding of the scope and range of the mid nineteenth-century novel in the context of Victorian publishing, reading and critical practices. In the first half, you will read three Dickens novels in depth, and while in the second half you will concentrate on theories of realism and the 19th Century novel. The module seeks to integrate reflections on recent critical approaches to the texts in order to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the critical techniques and discourses that will be applicable to your own advanced scholarship in the assessed essay and final dissertation.

  • This module aims to equip you with a systematic understanding of the scope and range of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement in the context of Victorian art criticism, attitudes to gender and poetics. The first five-week block concentrates on poetry and the visual arts in the first decade of the movement; the second five-week block deals with the second generation of Pre-Raphaelites and their links with Aestheticism.

  • This will be a piece of original written work, of between 12,000 and 15,000 words. The topic of the dissertation will be agreed between you and whichever member of staff is allotted as your supervisor and is normally required to be submitted by the beginning of September in the year of the completion of the programme.

Optional Modules

All modules are core

For full-time students the course lasts an academic year from September to September; part-time students pursue the course over two years, completing ‘Victorian London’ and one or two other courses in their first year; the remaining course(s) from the four required in total and the dissertation in their second year.

All courses are taught by means of a weekly structured two-hour seminar and each course lasts for a term of 11 weeks in total. A full time student thus has four hours of seminars for two terms and then further dissertation workshops and discussion groups in the summer term, in addition to individual supervision in the process of completing dissertations. Students will be invited to prepare in-course presentations, will receive feedback on draft essays submitted at the beginning of the Spring term, and can see staff individually during their office hours. All students on the programme are also encouraged to attend the regular Nineteenth-Century Studies Reading Group meetings and the research seminars organised by the Centre for Victorian Studies.

All taught courses are examined by an essay of 5,500-6,000 words. Coursework essays may be based on seminar presentations, or be original pieces of work. Essays written in the first term must be submitted by the first day of Term 2. These essays may be rewritten in the light of the tutor's comments and discussion and resubmitted in a final draft. Essays written in the second term and revised first term essays are submitted in the fourth week of the summer term.

The dissertation will be a piece of original written work, of between 12,000 and 15,000 words (excluding bibliography and appendices). The topic of the dissertation will be agreed between the student and whichever member of staff is allotted as supervisor. Dissertations are submitted in the first week of September. Students may also be required to complete an unassessed research proposal and bibliography during the summer term.

Full details of course requirements, assessment regulations, and marking criteria are available in the MA course booklets.

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