English 190

Research Seminar: Sensation Novels in Victorian England


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2021 Banerjee, Sukanya
TTh 2-3:30 305 Wheeler

Book List

Braddon, Mary Elizabeth: Aurora Floyd; Braddon, Mary Elizabeth: Lady Audley's Secret; Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone; Collins, Wilkie: The Woman in White

Description

 

Sensation novels constitute a vastly popular -- if somewhat controversial -- sub-genre of fiction that made its mark in Victorian Britain.  Playing with themes such as bigamy, murder, adultery, blackmail, and intrigue, the serial publication of these novels enthralled the reading public even as it provoked the ire of most literary critics and reviewers.  However, many of these novels now take their place in British literary history. In this course, we will focus on novels by two celebrated authors of the genre, Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Wilkie Collins. Although we will focus on  a fairly limited number of novels, our range of inquiry will broaden to include (among other themes): the shifting definition of “popular culture” and the relation between literary aesthetics and the “market;” the gendering of authorship; the relation between seriality and novelization; the technomodernity of the sensation novel; the sensorial and cognitive aspects of novel reading; the relation between sensation novels and material culture; and the ideation of race, sexuality, and empire as forged through the genre of sensation.

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