English 535:  Victorian Literature 
Spring 2009
Meetings:  Beckman 213--Wednesday, 7-9:50pm
Professor Richard Ruppel
Office Hours:  Tuesday & Thursday, 2:15-3:15pm; Wednesday 11am-12pm, and by appointment
Phones:  (714) 997-6754 (office); (714) 923-9545 (home - please don't call after 9pm)
Updated May 13, 2009

Useful external links

Course Description & Objectives:  Though Victorian connotes staid, conventional, and repressed to the popular imagination, the rich, lively, and often irreverent literature of the British Victorian period (1832-1900) contradicts this misperception.  Our semester will be built around its greatest literary form, the novel, but we'll also study representative essays and poetry.  This course involves significant reading and writing, both informal (on our discussion board) and formal (essays and essay exams).  You will develop one project through the semester and provide periodic reports.  Through our reading, discussion, and writing, we'll develop a clearer understanding of the period - its tensions, enthusiasms, hopes, fears, and sometimes contradictory moral and intellectual principles. 

Because of our relatively small class size, well treat this class as a seminar, and each of you will have the opportunity to explore one topic in detail and present periodic reports to the rest of us.  Well work out a schedule for those presentations February 11.  I hope many of you will choose topics in cultural studies, though you should work on any project you find rewarding.  So you may choose to focus on a topic such as "The Woman Question," the situation and representations of children, evolving notions of class, issues of labor, the influence of scientific advances, industrialization, education and the rise of literacy, religion, colonialism, popular culture and mass communication, the growth of periodicals, etc. as reflected in the literature of the period, or you might choose an author not covered or not well-represented by the syllabus. 

In your reports, youll briefly summarize what youve read and then present observations and raise questions that will make their way into your final essay.


The Norton Anthology of English Literature:  Volume E, The Victorian Age (8th Edition) 
Charlotte Bronte:  Jane Eyre (Norton Critical)
William Thackeray:  Vanity Fair (Norton Critical)
Charles Dickens:  Bleak House (Norton Critical)
Thomas Hardy:  Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Norton Critical)

Course Requirements: 

Attendance:  Please make every effort to attend class.  Missing more than one session will affect adversely your grade, and students who miss more than three classes will fail the course.

Communication:  Whether online or in class, please be courteous and constructive.  I receive a large number of emails, so when emailing, please identify the course (535), your last name name, and the subject in the subject line. 

Essays:  We'll discuss criteria for the essays, and I'll provide an essay description with suggested topics, several weeks before the due dates.  These should be submitted electronically, sent directly to my email address:  ruppel@chapman.edu  (Please don't use the Blackboard Drop-Box.) 

Grades:  Participation (including presentations & Blackboard Discussion posts):  20%
              Essay 1:  15% [5-6 pages, due March 4]
              Essay 2:  15% [5-6 pages, due April 1]
              Essay 3:  25% [10-12 pages, due May 6]
              Final:  25% (comprehensive)

Alternatively:  Participation (including presentations & Blackboard Discussion posts):  20%
                Essay 1:  25% [8-10 pages, due March 18]
                Essay 2:  30% [12 pages, due May 6]
                Final:  25% (comprehensive

Computers in class:  If you need to use a computer to take class notes, let me know.  Otherwise, computers should stay closed. 

Chapman University Academic Integrity Policy: 

Chapman University is a community of scholars that emphasizes the mutual responsibility of all members to seek knowledge honestly and in good faith.  Students are responsible for doing their own work, and academic dishonesty of any kind will be subject to sanction by the instructor and referral to the university's Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose additional sanctions up to and including dismissal.  (See the Graduate Catalog for the full policy.)

Students with disabilities Policy:  In compliance with ADA guidelines, students who have any condition, either permanent or temporary, that might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the beginning of the term. The University, through the Center for Academic Success, will work with the appropriate faculty member who is asked to provide the accommodations for a student in determining what accommodations are suitable based on the documentation and the individual student needs.  The granting of any accommodation will not be retroactive and cannot jeopardize the academic standards or integrity of the course.

Course Outline*:

Week 1:  February 4--Introductions, course business, and introduction of semester project. 
Week 2:  February 11--Thomas Carlyle, John Henry Cardinal Newman, John Stuart Mill. 
Week 3:  February 18--Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
Week 4:  February 25--Jane Eyre, Alfred Tennyson. 
Week 5:  March 4--Tennyson and Robert Browning.  [First essay due.]
Week 6:  March 11--William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
Week 7:  March 18--Vanity Fair.  [First essay due for those writing two essays.]
Week 8:  March 25--John Ruskin, Matthew Arnold.  (Several of us will be at the Sigma Tau Delta conference--class will be online.)
Week 9:  April 1--Christina Rossetti, William Morris.  [Second essay due for those writing three essays.]

Spring Break

Week 10:  April 15--Charles Dickens, Bleak House. 
Week 11:  April 22--Bleak House
Week 12:  April 29--Gerard Manly Hopkins, Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw. 
Week 13:  May 6--Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles. [Final essay due.]
Week 14:  May 13--Course wrap-up and preparation for the final. 
Week 15:  Final. Wednesday, May 20, 7-9:30pm. 

*We may decide to alter this schedule by adding or deleting authors or changing dates.  We will discuss these changes beforehand in class, and I will record them online. 


For Wednesday, February 11:  Read the Introduction to the Victorian Age, the selections from Carlyle's Sartor Resartus and Past and Present, John Henry Cardinal Newman's The Idea of a University, and John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and The Subjection of Women.  Answer the Blackboard discussion questions by noon, Wednesday.  Bring ideas for your semester-long project to class. 
For Wednesday, February 18:  Finish reading Jane Eyre, and answer one of the questions in Blackboard.
For Wednesday, February 25:  Begin Vanity Fair.  Read the introduction to Tennyson and "Mariana," "The Lady of Shalott," "The Lotus Eaters," and "Ulysses." 
For Wednesday, March 4: Continue reading Vanity Fair.  Read all the selections from Tennyson's In Memoriam, the introduction to Robert Browning, and his "Porphyria's Lover," "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister," "My Last Duchess," "The Lost Leader," "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church," "Love among the Ruins," "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," "Fra Lippo Lippi," "Caliban upon Setebos," and "Rabbi Ben Ezra."  First essay due for those writing three essays.   
For Wednesday, March 11: Finish Vanity Fair.  Respond to the annotation question in Blackboard. 
For Wednesday, March 18: No new assignment.  (You should probably begin Bleak House.)  First essay due for those writing two instead of three essays.  Unless you hear otherwise, meet at the Ruppels' - 445 S. California St., Orange - for dinner and the class.
For Wednesday, April 1: Read all the selections from John Ruskin in the anthology and "Isolation.  To Marguerite," "To Marguerite--Continued," "Lines Written in Kensington Gardens," "The Scholar Gypsy," "Dover Beach," and the selections from Culture and Anarchy and The Study of Poetry by Matthew Arnold.  Respond to the questions on Ruskin and Arnold on Blackboard.   
For Wednesday, April 22:  Respond to the Blackboard question by noon, April 22. 
For Wednesday, April 29:  Read the introduction to Gerard Manley Hopkins and his "God's Grandeur," "As Kingfishers Catch Fire," "The Windhover," and "Pied Beauty."  Read the introduction to Oscar Wilde and "The Critic as Artist," Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, and selections from De Profundis.  Read the first act of Bernard Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession.
For Wednesday, May 6:  Finish Tess of the D'Urbervilles.  Unless you hear otherwise, meet at the Ruppels for dinner and discussion. 

Useful External Links

The Victorian Web:  An authoritative and massive collection of Web pages devoted to all things Victorian, supported at Brown University.
Representative Poetry Online:  A useful compendium of information on poetry in English, including innumerable poems, a timeline, calendar, criticism, and glossary.  

Thomas Carlyle

John Henry Cardinal Newman

Charlotte Bront

Charles Dickens

Thomas Hardy

Oscar Wilde

Return to Ruppel's Homepage