English (ENGL) 413

Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century (1790-1917): Poetry and Poetics of the Victorian Period


Permanently closed, effective June 2, 2017.

Offered at Mount Royal College ONLY.

Prerequisite: MRC ENGL 2211 and one other junior English literature course, preferably 2235, but could be 2210, 2231 or 2237.

Strongly Recommended Preparation: MRC 3354 and one other AU 300 or MRC 3000 English course


This particular incarnation of ENGL 413 provides an in-depth perspective on the historical development of Victorian poetry in relation to two over-lapping literary movements: Romanticism and Aestheticism. Comparisons with poems from the past (Romanticism) and with poems to come (Aestheticism) will allow students to situate poetic texts relative to their contexts. Emphasis on questions of voice and audience will lead to examination of three constructs: the private, the public, and the popular. Students thus will read various poetic genres: lyric, narrative, and dramatic, primarily from the women and men of Victorian period. The poems will be of varying lengths including very “long” poems published as separate volumes. Interspersed throughout the course, will be an additional study of Victorian poetics. Formalist, Feminist, and New Historicist theories will be emphasized.

Lecture/Discussion Format

(One three hour class per week)

As an advanced-level seminar, ENGL 413 requires significant preparation and participation of all its members. Students must attend class regularly, with readings completed in advance, and be prepared to discuss issues in depth. Anything less will negatively affect overall marks for the course.


Note: All assignments will require secondary research.

Two short papers
(5 pages each = 2 ×)
Seminar presentation
(15-20 minutes per person)
Major paper
(20 pages)
Final Exam
(3 hours)
15% each 15% 30% 25% 100%


Week One: Introduction to the course:

  • Historical introduction to the poets, periods and publication methods: the Romantics, early Victorians, Victorians, Pre-Raphaelites, Decadents, Aesthetes, and Modernists

Week Two: Theoretical introduction:

  • Reading Victorian poets: Victorians and canonicity; women’s voices; Formalism versus Feminism
  • Introduction to New Historicism (see McGann on Reserve)
  • The figure of the poet in the early Victorian period: essays by Fox, Hallam, Landon, Mill and Buchanan

Weeks Three, Four, Five, Six: Lyric Voices: (see Keats and Wordsworth on Reserve):

  • EBB “The Dead Pan,” Tennyson “Break, break, break,” Browning “The Last Ride Together,” E. Bronte “Remembrance,” Arnold “To Marguerite—Continued,” C. Rossetti “In an Artist’s Studio,” D. G. Rossetti “Woodspurge,” Swinburne “A Forsaken Garden,” Mew “I Have Been. . .,” Hardy “The Darkling Thrush,” Field “Solitary Death”
  • “Parlour Poetry”: selections from Landon, Hemans, Procter, and Cook
  • Victorian sonnets: selections from EBB Sonnets from the Portuguese, Meredith Modern Love, D. G. Rossetti The House of Life, C. Rossetti “Monna Innominata” as well as isolated sonnets from Norton, Eliot, Webster, Hardy, Levy
  • A monumental mourning: Tennyson, In Memoriam
  • Victorian poetics: essays by Clough, Arnold, Ruskin, Bagehot, Buchanan, D. G. Rossetti, and Symons

Weeks Seven, Eight: Narratives:

  • C. Rossetti “Goblin Market,” Arnold “The Scholar Gypsy”
  • Tennyson “Marianna,” “The Lady of Shalott” “The Princess” (on Reserve)

Weeks Nine, Ten, Eleven: Dramatic Moments:

  • EBB “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point,” Browning “Porphyria’s Lover,” “Andrea Del Sarto”
  • Tennyson “Maud”
  • Arnold “Empedocles on Etna,” Hamilton “The Mandolin”

Weeks Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen: Book-length Poetry:

  • Landon “Erinna,” EBB from Aurora Leigh
  • Browning from The Ring and the Book
  • Tennyson from Idylls of the King

Week Fifteen: Review

Required Text

Collins, Thomas J. & Vivienne J. Rundle, eds. The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Poetry and Poetic Theory. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview, 1999.

Note: Additional readings, as required, will be put on library reserve.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Updated June 02 2017 by Student & Academic Services