British Literature and Culture in the 19th Century



Zeit/Ort n.V.

  • Mi 12:15-13:45, Raum C 601 ICS

The lecture course will be taught online and is open to students registered for the following modules:

  • Lehramt Englisch an Gymnasien: Optionsmodul L-GYM Literature (Zulassungsvoraussetzung: Zwischenmodul L-GYM Literature) - mündl. Prüfung, 20 Min.)
  • BA English and American Studies: Hauptmodul B (302) Literature/Culture (Zulassungsvoraussetzung: bestandenes Zwischenmodul II) - mündl. Püfung, 20 Min.)
  • MA English Studies: Introductory Module: Culture (module 4000, exam 40001: oral exam 20 min)
  • MA Literaturstudien - intermedial und interkulturell: Modul 8 (mündl. Prüfung, 20 Min).

(In all cases, depending on restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, we might have to deviate from the exam regulations specified above.)


This online lecture course offers a wide-ranging exploration of 19th-century British literature and culture. We will revisit many of the canonical texts, genres and authors of the century and discuss their historical and cultural contexts, chart key academic debates in Victorian Studies and explore interdisciplinary links between cultural and literary theory. In each case, however, the perspective will be one of British Cultural Studies. We will consider how texts (and their authors) are embedded in larger social and political contexts and the cultural and ideological work that they do. Above all, we will look at cultural practices, not just texts. Rather than study play-texts in isolation, for example, the first lecture will consider what it meant to go to the theatre in the early 19th century, and how audiences engaged actively with plays. The other 13 lectures deal with popular exhibitions, including those of paintings; the production and consumption of Romantic poetry; the social politics of Romantic and Victorian novels and novelists (including Austen, Dickens, and Gaskell); different concepts of history and their ideological use (e.g. in Burke, Carlyle, Morris); a history of Victorian poetry focusing on gender and social status; urbanization and representations of the City and the Victorian crowd; the politics of realism in detective fiction; the interrelations between science and literature/culture; Imperial Romances and fictions of domestic anarchy; and Britain’s Fin de Siècle. Two lectures will deal more specifically with cultural icons (Queen Victoria) and cultural myths (vampires). The lectures are intended for more advanced students, including Master Students and those that consider choosing the 19th century as an exam topic (Staatsexamen).