English 250

Research Seminar: Victorian Cultural Studies

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2017 Puckett, Kent
W 9-12 301 Wheeler

Book List

Berger, J.: Ways of Seeing; Coleridge, S.T.: Biographia Literaria ; Eliot, G.: Middlemarch; Eliot, T.S.: The Sacred Wood; Empson, W.: Some Versions of Pastoral; Hoggart, R.: The Uses of Literacy; James, C.L.R.: Beyond a Boundary; Mill, J.S.: On Liberty; Newman, J.H.: The Idea of a University; Richards, I.A.: Practical Criticism; Williams, R.: The Long Revolution; Woolf, V.: To the Lighthouse

Other Readings and Media

A course reader with selections from Carlyle, Ruskin, Arnold, Morris, Wilde, Tylor, Hulme, Frazer, Malinowski, Leavis, Orwell, E.P. Thompson, Nairn, Hall, Hebdidge, Gilroy, and others.


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 Coleridge, Mill, Carlyle, Arnold, Eliot, Newman, Ruskin, and Morris.  We’ll supplement these readings with selections from the emerging fields of nineteenth-century anthropology, ethnography, and sociology.  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, 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 Group 4 (19th Century),Group 5 (20th Century), or the Group 6 (Non-historical) requirement.

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