Skip to main content

Unit information: Literature 1740-1900 in 2020/21

Unit name Literature 1740-1900
Unit code ENGL20063
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Pite
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will introduce students to a range of literature across the 160 years covered: eighteenth-century fiction; romantic period writing; Victorian poetry; the mid- and late-Victorian novel and the writing of the Decadents and Aesthetes of 1880s and 1890s. In doing so the unit will enable students to engage with such ideas as Enlightenment, sensibility, radicalism and political revolution, Europe, urbanisation and industrialisation, class, personhood, gender identity and sexual inequality, outsider status, and emancipation. The unit will expose students to a range of literary forms, elite, popular and middlebrow. All the works included will be discussed in the context of the historical and modern critical discussions which have arisen around them; the philosophical, religious and aesthetic debates they contribute to will be brought forward. The unit raises major questions about: the evolution of new genres, including that of ‘the literary’; the role of the author and the social utility of art; poetry and poetics; the power of gender, sexual, national, class and racial identities; and the interplay between literature, widening literacy and national education.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

1] demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of a range of literature written between 1740 and 1900;

2] articulate knowledge and make evaluations of some of the critical approaches to literature of this period;

3] contextualise primary texts within their literary, historical, and cultural contexts;

4] identify and critically assess pertinent evidence to develop a cogent argument;

5] demonstrate argumentation, close textual analysis, and critical interpretation appropriate to level I/5 using evidence from primary texts and secondary sources.

Teaching details

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including long- and short-form lectures, group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 1000 word essay (formative) [ILOs 1-5]
  • 1 x 2000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Samuel Richardson, Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded (1740)

Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789)

William Wordsworth [and Samuel Taylor Coleridge], Lyrical Ballads. In Two Volumes; 4th edition (1805)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Selected Poems, edited Christopher Ricks (Penguin Classics, 2007)

George Eliot, Middlemarch (1871-72)

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890, 1891)