This course gives an overview of Great Britain and her Empire under the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), tracing its history, culture and politics through a number of representative fiction, poetry and non-fiction texts. The course will begin at “home” with discussions and readings focused on issues of class, gender, and the construction of national and imperial identity. As Britain sought to cultivate a unified idea of nation, it also saw the entrance of imperial people and goods that tested and expanded what it meant to be both English and British. The second half of the course will look outwards, and examine how these themes played out “abroad” in Europe and the outer reaches of the British Empire.




Throughout the course, students will learn to do the following:

  1. Understand and analyze Victorian perspectives on imperialism and the central tensions reflected in Victorian writing.
  2. Discuss and analyze the formal differences between fiction, poetry and non-fiction writing, with a particular focus on the novel and the novel-poem.
  3. Develop critical reading skills that will be practiced and executed through analysis, discussion, and argument.
  4. Understand and use theoretical approaches of gender discourse, colonial discourse analysis, and postcolonial theory.




There will be three contact hours per week: a two-hour session on Tuesday 4.30-6.20pm which will be divided into lecture, discussion, and on some weeks, a one-hour tutorial on Friday at 5.20pm.

The course will be made up of formal lectures and class discussions. The course will be made up of formal lectures and class discussion. Students will be asked to submit short reading reflections or present each week to help shape the class discussion.




Essay 1: 40%, Essay 2: 45%, and participation mark: 15%





Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Norton Critical edition

King Solomon’s Mines, H. Rider Haggard, Penguin Classics edition

Please purchase these particular editions so that we share the same pagination. The other central text will be Findens’ Tableaux which will be available as a course handbook. All other assigned materials will be available online.



Last updated: 24 October 2018