Despite leafing through required readings for classes and admiring the banter between students with a thorough understanding of the “classics”, I have had minimal exposure to many famed pieces. For a student rooted by a love for reading and writing, the scope and depth of my knowledge regarding Victorian literature severely lacks–which is, in part, the inspiration to take this course.
I’m looking forward to finally taking the time to immerse myself in often-discussed works like Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations and looking into the interplay between the literature and the surrounding context of the time period. Better orienting myself in the history and how it influences the works we’re reading will help me create connections between the past and present: how literary themes stand the test of time, where the modern human experience mirrors that of the Victorian era, and what we can learn from how others before us have juggled conflict.
Particular themes/ideas that I’d like to engage with throughout the semester include the role of gender and race, the influence of established worldviews about science and religion on the Victorian literary space, and where the institution of education comes into play both for literary characters and the authors that penned them. Also, I would like to better understand what classifies a piece as one of Victorian literature as opposed to one from another era. How can we distinguish chronologically and what are recurring characteristics of a piece from the Victorian era?