Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature

Victorian Sensation Fiction

Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature
ENGL 352-010 Prof. Grossman
MWF 9:05-9:55

This course will examine a group of Victorian stories in which the sacred home and hearth hides a crime site. Pleasurably horrified Victorian readers called these stories "sensation novels." We will discuss their cultural role and examine their unusual narrative form. Why did the possibility of private spaces becoming public spectacles so thrill Victorians? Legal, feminist, and marxist theory as well as primary historical materials will complicate and enliven our exploration of these novel's domestic plots. Works may include: Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret, Robert Browning's The Ring and the Book, Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, and Charles Dickens's Great Expectations.

Requirements: lively class participation, two 5-page papers, and one 10- to 12-page final paper.

Class Syllabus
Class Presentations

Sensation Fiction Web Page
Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Class List

"Edwin, if you find you are unable to do good work, you mustn't do bad. We must think of some other way of making a living"
"Have you forgotten that you urged me to write a trashy sensational story?"
She coloured and looked annoyed.
"You misunderstood me. A sensational story needn't be trash."

George Gissing, New Grub Street