Monday, May 5, 2008

Course Outline

The Victorian 19th century is severed from the 20th century by the unbridgeable chasm that is the First World War. There was, however, a miraculous transitional time of serenity, gentilesse, manners and happiness between these two epochs: the Edwardian Age. Although the name is unfamiliar, the character of the Age remains. It is only slight exaggeration to say that North Americans’ image of Englishness is Edwardian; embodied in film adaptations like Howard’s End and Remains of the Day, television series such as Upstairs, Downstairs and The Forsyte Saga, and the constant popularity of children’s classics like the Beatrix Potter Tales, Wind in the Willows and Peter Pan. In this course, we will come to understand, appreciate, and perhaps love, the tragic glory of the Edwardians through a study of six of their greatest novels; each of them beloved, influential and, in their different ways, subliminally expressive of the achingly transient nature of a moment that was widely felt to be, in the words of novelist George Gissing, the “Crown of Life.”

In addition to the books on the Required and (strongly) Recommended lists, several scholarly studies of the Edwardians will be placed on Course Reserve. We will, of course, use video adaptations as the Course progresses to more fully encounter the Edwardian sensibility.


Chesterton, G. K. The Napoleon of Notting Hill Dover
Wells, H. G. The Sleeper Awakes Dodo
Wodehouse, P. G. Psmith in the City Wildside
Jerome, Jerome K. Three Men in a Boat Penguin
Potter, Beatrix Complete Tales Warne
West, Rebecca Return of the Soldier Penguin

Strongly Recommended:

Grossmith, G. Diary of a Nobody Oxford
Corelli, Marie The Sorrows of Satan Valancourt

15% Three group seminar discussions
20% Two group "Transition"projects
30% Mid-term paper (2500 words with revisions)
35% Final project (3500 words with draft outline)

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