English 250

Research Seminars: Victorian Cultural Studies

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2012 Puckett, Kent
M 3-6 108 Wheeler

Book List

Arnold, M.: Culture and Anarchy; Dickens, C.: Great Expectations; Eliot, G.: Felix Holt, The Radical; Eliot, T.S.: Selected Prose; James, C.L.R.: Beyond a Boundary; Ruskin, J.: Unto This Last; Woolf, V. : To the Lighthouse;

Recommended: Williams, R.: Culture and Society

Other Readings and Media

Films: David Lean, Great Expectations (1946), Tony Richardson, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), Steven Frears and Hanif Kureishi, My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), Shane Meadows, This is England (2006)



This course will follow the long history of the culture concept in Britain.  We will begin by working through Raymond Williams’ account in Culture & Society in order to see how several senses of the word “culture”--culture as “the idea of human perfection,” as “society as a whole,” as “the general body of the arts,” or as “a whole way of life”--appear and reappear in Mill, Carlyle, Arnold, Dickens, Darwin, Eliot, C. Rossetti, Newman, Ruskin, and Morris.  We’ll supplement these readings with selections from the emerging fields of nineteenth-century anthropology, ethnography, and sociology: Tylor, Frazer, Durkheim, etc.  In the course’s second half, we’ll follow the culture concept as it makes its way through twentieth-century Britain: before, between, and after the wars (T.S.Eliot, Virginia Woolf, I.A. Richards, Q.D., and F.R. Leavis); in the long, fraught wake of British socialism (Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, C.L.R. James, and E.P. Thompson); and in the “New Times” of British cultural studies under and after Thatcher (Stuart Hall, Angela McRobbie, Paul Gilroy, and Dick Hebdige).  In the process of reading through these works, we’ll consider the strange tenacity of an especially Victorian idea, a particularly British effort to mark out practical relations between the social and the aesthetic, and the institutional and literary roles that education and, in particular, adult education have played in the post-Romantic imagination.

This course may be used to satisfy the 19th-century historical breadth requirement, the 20th-century historical breadth requirement, or the non-chronological requirement.


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