Dr. Don King‎ > ‎Course Syllabi‎ > ‎

English 309

3 credit hours
 MWF 11-11:50
Belk 219
Don W. King: Home page
Phone 828-545-3293
COURSE DESCRIPTION: A study of the major Victorian writers, including Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Matthew Arnold.
COURSE RATIONALE: The nineteenth century was an extremely rich time for British literature.  Both poetry and prose fiction flourished.  At the same time, it was  historically significant because of the amount of change that took place. New ideas about science, religion, politics, existence, meaning, and so on came out of this century and British writers reflect these and other ideas openly in their poems, novels, and essays.  Accordingly, a study of Victorian Literature is important because of the major literary developments of the period and their impact on twentieth century literature. 
TEXTS: The following are required texts:
Victorian Poetry and Poetics, Ed. by W. Houghton and R. Stange
Victorian People and Ideas by Richard Altick
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Adam Bede by George Eliot
Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Also, I strongly recommend you have these texts:
Handbook to Literature, Eds. William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (5th ed), Ed. Joseph Gibaldi.
COURSE OBJECTIVE: The central objective of this course is to introduce you to the significant poetry and prose fiction of Victorian Literature. In addition, you will be exposed to the important philosophical, social, and intellectual ideas of the Victorian period with an eye toward how poetry and prose fiction reflect these ideas.  By the time you complete the course, you should be able to:
  1. Identify and discuss Victorian social, religious, philosophical, and intellectual ideas.  

  2. Discuss the relationship between the poet and his audience in the Victorian period.

  3. Describe the relationship between duty and personal freedom in Tennyson’s poetry.

  4. Define the dramatic monologue and discuss its function in Browning’s poetry.

  5. Identify the significant themes in Arnold’s poetry.

  6. Discuss the poetic characteristics of the minor Victorian poets.

  7. Define the nature of Victorian prose fiction as characterized by Dickens, Eliot, and Hardy.


  1. That you read and analyze the significant poetry of Tennyson, Browning, and Arnold as well as three Victorian novels.

  2. That you understand and be able to analyze the characteristics of the dramatic monologue.

  3. That you identify the characteristics of Victorian prose fiction.

  4. That you identify the critical agents of change during the Victorian period.

  5. That you consider the continuing influence of Victorian literature upon modern literature.

  6. That you write a critical analysis on some approved aspect of our study. 

  7. That you learn to value the literature covered in this course as something that can enrich your life, revealing the complexity of the human experience and informing your spiritual life.  

Week 1            Introduction to the Victorian period
Weeks 2-4       Tennyson’s poetry  
Weeks 5-8         Great Expectations by Dickens and Robert Browning’s poetry  
Weeks 9-12       Adam Bede by George Eliot and Matthew Arnold’s poetry
Week 13-15     Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and selected poems
  1. There will be quizzes, journals, presentations, and in class essays that will constitute 60% of your grade in the course.

  2. book review of  Victorian People and Ideas by Richard Altick will count 10%Due by midnight Mar. 8, 2018, via email attachment.

  3. You will develop a creative project based upon your personal reaction to anything we have studied throughout the semester.  I prefer that this project be creative in whatever fashion you are creative.  For example, in the past students have put on skits, built or baked various things, written songs, done videotape or computer presentations, painted pictures, sculpted figures, done needlepoint, conducted interviews, written satires, and so on.  “The sky’s the limit” but you should check out your idea with me before you begin.  Group projects are possible but need to be approved by me. The project will count 10% of your final grade and must be presented in front of the class on or before the last regular class meeting.

  4. You will write one analytical paper  (1,250 to 1,500 words) on some aspect of our studies. This paper will count 10% of your final grade; due May 7, 2018, at 12:30 p.m. via email attachment.

  5. The remaining 10% will come from in class essays, your class participation, discussion, quizzes, regular attendance, homework, reserve and supplemental reading, group work and various short writing assignments.
  6. There are a total of 1000 pts possible in the course. Final grades will be compiled using the following guidelines:
1000-900    A to A-
899-800      B+ to B-
799-700      C+ to C-
699-600      D+ to D-
599-0          F
LIBRARY: All students are encouraged to take advantage of the services and resources available from the library.  You can search the online catalog and the library’s databases by going to http://www.montreat.edu/library/
 BIBLIOGRAPHY:  In addition to the books listed below that are on three-day reserve, the library (or the MCLN) holds many journals that may be of help in doing research for this course, includingVictorian Poetry, Victorian Studies, and Nineteenth Century Literature. Of much interest to you, however, will be the multiple resources available via electronic databases, especially JSTOR.  
Altick, Richard D. The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900.
Altick, Richard D. Victorian People and Ideas.
Bateson, F.W., ed. Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature.
Batho, Edith, and Bonamy Dobree, eds. The Victorians and After, 1830-1914.
Beach, Joseph Warren. The Concept of Nature in Nineteenth-Century Poetry.
Buckley, Jerome H.  The Triumph of Time: A Study of the Victorian Concepts of  Time, History, Progress, and Decadence.
Buckley, Jerome H. The Victorian Temper: A Study in Literary Culture.
Bush, Douglas. Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in English Poetry.
Chesterton, G.K. The Victorian Age in Literature.
Cruse, Amy. The Victorians and Their Reading.
De Laura, David J., ed. Victorian Prose: A Guide to Research.
Fairchild, Hoxie N. Religious Trends in English Poetry.
Faverty, Frederic E., ed. The Victorian Poets: A Guide to Research.
Gaunt, William. The Aesthetic Adventure.
Hilton, Timothy. The Pre-Raphaelites.
Holloway, John. The Victorian Sage: Studies in Argument.
Hough, Graham. The Last Romantics.
Houghton, Walter E.  The Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830-1870.
Levine, Richard A., ed. Backgrounds to Victorian Literature.
Massingham, H.J., and Hugh Massingham, eds. The Great Victorians.
Miller, J. Hillis. The Disappearance of God: Five Nineteenth Century Writers.
Preyer, Robert O., ed. Victorian Literature: Selected Essays.
Saintsbury, George. The Later Nineteenth Century.
Somervell, D.C. English Thought in the Nineteenth Century.
Sussman, Herbert L. Victorians and the Machine:  The Literary Response to Technology.
Tindall, William York. Forces in Modern British Literature.
Turner, Paul.  Victorian Poetry, Drama, and Miscellaneous Prose, 1832-1890.
Wellek, Rene. A History of Modern Criticism , 1750-1950, vol. IV: The Later Nineteenth Century.
Willey, Basil. More Nineteenth Century Studies.
Willey, Basil. Nineteenth Century Studies.
Williams, Raymond. Culture and Society, 1780-1950.
Wright, Austin, ed. Victorian Literature: Modern Essays in Criticism.
Message from the Writing Center:

To write a successful essay, you will need to follow a process of brainstorming, planning, writing, and revising your essays.  The Writing Center tutors will work with you one-on-one on any or all stages of the writing process.  This academic service is available to assist you in becoming a confident and competent writer.  The Writing Center is not an editing service but a dynamic space for learning about writing through thoughtful conversations with peer tutors.  Sessions usually last 20 minutes, but please be aware that more than one session may be necessary in the process of writing an essay. 

The Writing Center is located in Library 105 and is open Sunday – Thursday.  Our normal hours of operation are between 6:00 and 11:00 pm.  An appointment is not necessary, but please be aware that the Writing Center is crowded when a professor assigns a Writing Center visit to a whole class, so don’t wait until the last minute.  You may contact Dr. Kimberly Angle at kangle@montreat.edu if you have questions.  We are now offering Daytime Writing Scholars to be available during limited hours in the CLCC for writing consultations.  Hours will be announced via e-mail early in the semester and posted on the library/CLCC web page as well as at the CLCC.  Daytime Writing Scholars will also have contact information posted so that you can let them know you’re coming and/or send in your essay for them to read prior to the consultation.  In addition, please know that an excellent internet resource is available to you at all times‑‑Purdue University’s OWL (On‑line Writing Lab).  This site provides an authoritative resource for composition, grammar, and citation.  The address is http://owl.english.purdue.edu/

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: For all individual assignments students are expected to present their own work; documentation of research for your literary analysis must follow the specific criteria as outlined in the MLA Handbook for Writer of Research Papers. Cases of academic dishonesty, including but not limited to cheating and plagiarism, will result in either of failure of the assignment or of the course. 
FINAL COMMENT: This syllabus and other details about the course, including your grades for the course, are available through the college's online platform, Moodle. Please feel free to email me at dking@montreat.edu if you need help with any aspect of the course.
I reserve the right to make minor changes to the syllabus and course requirements as we move through the semester.
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