What I Hope to Learn About Victorian Literature

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?

One thought on “What I Hope to Learn About Victorian Literature

  1. Sara Devoe

    In all honesty I don’t really know many books that fall in the category of Victorian Literature . I know “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights”, the classics, but I want to know more about what dictates a book to fall in the category of Victorian literature besides just the date it was written. I’m sure there are certain trends blended into Victorian Literature such as unequal gender roles, racism, segregation related to social class because of the time period.

    I’m specifically very interested in the gender roles that lie in Victorian literature. I feel like many novels in this time period were written by primarily white, educated males, and because of this, the gender roles were probably very similar. “Jane Eyre” for example tackles a women’s role with a man, but I know we’re not reading “Jane Eyre” this semester so I’m anxious to get to know a women’s role in the other novels we will be reading. I also am interested in how gender roles have changed and also stayed the same between the Victorian Era and now.

    I hope to come out of this class with a better understanding of what defines Victorian literature and how to analyze it. I think in order to analyze any novel, one needs background information and in order to analyze Victorian literature, one needs to know the historical information about the time period and the author. I also have never read anything by Charles Dickens, and I am anxious to learn about Dickens’s writing style.

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