Course Instructor Days Times Room


ENGL 4510: Nineteenth-Century British Prose: Bodies of Writing; Bodies and Writing

From prefaces to Parliamentary reports; from travel writing to war reporting, to parodies, to literary criticism, to political polemics; from transcribed legal testimony to newspaper exposes, journal entries and private letters, this class will consider how controversies over the claims of physicality help shape the revolutionary transformations of a great era of prose writing. Nonfiction prose by distinguished writers of fiction, including Charlotte Brontë, Dickens, Eliot, and Wilde; notorious literary debates: in a class designed to invite students to explore their own positions as critical writers, such texts will play central roles. So, too, however, may others: prose by poets such as the Brownings, the Rossettis, or Hopkins, for example; scientific writings by figures including Lyell, Darwin, and Huxley; resonant political arguments by major thinkers including Carlyle, Mill, Newman, Nightingale, and Morris; and writing by Victorians whose achievements have nearly been forgotten. Through classroom negotiations and guided exploration of UGA’s rich nineteenth-century periodicals holdings, students will help shape the syllabus, competing. If interested, they will also compete for the chance to set the class’s closing readings. (Previous winning topics: disability rights; photography; beer; deportation of homeless children; cremation; legal controversies over married women’s rights; access to public libraries; drug addiction; dress reform; sensation fiction; fishing; responses to slavery and the American Civil War.)


English 4510: Nineteenth-Century Prose. 

Please note: this is a sample syllabus, based on an earlier MWF class. As noted below, Fall 2018 students will help negotiate readings for that semester.


Dorothy Mermin and Herbert Tucker, eds., Victorian Literature, 1830-1900, (NY: Harcourt, 2002).

Web-based readings; readings on UGA libraries electronic reserve (password: prose)

Optional Bel-Jean Packet

Class-Negotiated Choices

(Options include brief readings from and beyond our text, as well as reference books and primary texts listed below):

Richard Altick, Victorian People and Ideas, (NY: Norton, 1974).

Wayne C. Booth, Joseph M. Williams, and Gregory G. Colomb, The Craft of Research, (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2003).

Prose of the Victorian Period, ed. William E. Buckler, (NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1959).

Herbert F. Tucker, ed. A Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture, (NY: Blackwell, 1999).

Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, ed. Kerry McSweeney and Peter Sabor, (NY: Oxford, 2000).

Charles Dickens, American Notes, ed. Patricia Ingham, (NY: Penguin, 2001).

Charles Dickens, Pictures from Italy, ed. Kate Flint, (NY: Penguin, 1998).

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty / The Subjection of Women, ed. Alan Ryan, (NY: Penguin, 2007).

Florence Nightingale, Cassandra, (NY: Feminist Press at CUNY, 1993).

Mary Seacole, The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, ed. Sara Salih (NY: Penguin, 2005).

Recommended Web Resources:

The Victorian Web:

The Victorian Research Web:

Course Requirements:


This is an active, discussion-oriented class.  Students are expected to attend all class sessions, and to come prepared, each day, to articulate and explore their own readings, both in person and on paper. Details count: be sure to come to class with your books or printed articles marked.

If you have questions about the ethics or mechanics of acknowledging use of another person's words or ideas, please consult me immediately.  (Ideas must be footnoted; quotations must be properly punctuated and footnoted.)  Once a paper has been turned in, if I suspect plagiarism, I will refer the case to the appropriate university authorities.

As a University of Georgia student, you have agreed to abide by the University’s academic honesty policy, “A Culture of Honesty,” and the Student Honor Code. All academic work must meet the standards described in “A Culture of Honesty” found at: Lack of knowledge of the academic honesty policy is not a reasonable explanation for a violation. Questions related to course assignments and the academic honesty policy should be directed to the instructor


          Brief Response Papers                                                              10%

Response papers may take strong critical positions, ask questions, draw comparisons, or suggest avenues for future exploration.  At times they will be due at the beginning of class; at times they will be written during class.  Though the lowest response paper grade will be dropped, under normal circumstances, only one late or make-up response paper per student will be accepted.

Formal Paper #1                                                                         20%

Five page, double-spaced analysis of primary sources. Topics will be assigned.

      Mid-term Exam                                                                                     20%

The required portion of this examination will consist of identification questions. An optional take-home essay exam will also be available. The optional take-home will count for half the mid-term grade.

Formal Paper #2                                                                                    25%

Ten page, double-spaced paper on a topic proposed and negotiated by the student. Primary research is required; secondary research is welcome. NOTE: You will need to provide me with a complete, fully documented hard copy of your central text. Any use of sources should be accurate and fully documented, with a complete bibliography.  Be sure to ask me if you have questions about this.

     Final Examination:                                                                                  25%   

      Three-hour exam.  Identification section, followed by essay examination.

Make-up exams will be available only for compelling reasons. I will expect advance notice.


Provisional Syllabus:

The course syllabus is a general plan for the course; deviations announced to the class

by the instructor may be necessary.


Note: This syllabus will be completed after negotiations; reading assignments will probably be revised as we proceed. Students are responsible for keeping up with readings on a day-to-day basis. Email me immediately if you have questions.

Notify me right away, if you will need to miss class for religious holidays: I will be happy to make accommodations.

Unless otherwise stated, all readings are from Mermin and Tucker. Be sure to read the volume’s biographical introductions to each writer we study


Monday, August 13: Introductions, Beginning Negotiations

Wednesday, August 15: Reading, Studying, Criticizing: Intellectual Labor and “Liberal Education”

Introduction to Newman (M&T)

     *[1852] John Henry Newman, from The Idea of a University,

Discourse V. Knowledge its Own End.  (Parts 1-10)

Discourse VI. Knowledge Viewed in Relation to Learning (1, 2, 5, 6-10)

Discourse VII. Knowledge Viewed in Relation to Professional Skill (5, 6, 10)

Discourse VIII. Knowledge Viewed in Relation to Religion (10)

Friday, August 17:    Scandal; Style: Newman, Pater, and “Victorian Sage Discourse”

   Introduction to Pater (M&T);  [1888] Walter Pater, “Style”

WEEK TWO:  Styling Self: Memoirs and (Non)Fictions of Memory

    Monday, August 20: “Victorian” Childhoods? Writers Born before 1820

[1831] from The History of Mary Prince, pp. 1-9.

[1847; first published in John Forster, The Life of Charles Dickens, 1872] Charles Dickens, “Autobiographical Fragment”

[1855] Harriet Martineau, from Autobiography

[1855] James Dawson Burn, from Autobiography of a Beggar Boy, Letter One, (Column A, 213)

[1873] John Stuart Mill, from Autobiography, (321-32)

      [1889] John Ruskin, from Praeterita, (641-44)

Wednesday, August 22:  Victorian Childhoods, continued. STRAW VOTE: THEMATIC CONSTELLATIONS / GENERIC FOCUS / SINGLE TEXTS

                                                  [1878] Walter Pater, “The Child in the House”

                                                  [1893] Thomas Henry Huxley, from Autobiography

                                                   [1894] Frances Power Cobbe, from Life of Frances Power Cobbe

                                           [1899/1990] Margaret Oliphant, from Autobiography, “Feb. 8th,” (837-38)                   

                                           [Written by 1893; published 1984] John Addington Symonds, “Memoir,” from Chapter 5 (Top of Column B, 101) M&T)

Friday, August 24: Poetry and Pushpin: Literature and /in Crisis. VOTE: THEMATIC CONSTELLATIONS / GENERIC FOCUS / SINGLE TEXTS

                                                    [1825] Jeremy Bentham, from The Rationale of Reward (

                                       [1873; account begins 1821] John Stuart Mill, from Autobiography, “A Crisis in My Mental History”

                                        [1833] John Stuart Mill, “What is Poetry?"


                                          Monday, August 27:  The Condition of England Question; Labor as Ideal and Practice

                                                        Read introductions to “The Condition of England” and Thomas Carlyle (M&T)

                                                        Explore the Victorian Web on Economics. (See, for example, Chartism, Reform sections; see, too, say, links for Carlyle)

                                           [1829, 1839, 1843] Carlyle, from Signs of the Times, Chartism, and Past and Present

Wednesday, August 29:

*[1842/1843] Parliamentary Papers: “Children’s Employment Commission: First Report of the Commissioners—Mines” (Feb.-Aug. 1842); “Children’s Employment Commission: Appendix to the Second Report of the Commissioners on Trades and Manufactures” (Feb.-Aug. 1843).

Friday, August 31:

*[1845 German; 1892 English] Friedrich Engels, from Condition of the English Working Class

*[1851] Henry Mayhew, from London Labour and the London Poor (M&T and more)


Monday, September 3: No class: Labor Day

Wednesday, September 5: Politics; Poetry: Empire. BRAINSTORM TOPICS: PAPER # 1

*[1825] Thomas Babington Macaulay, from “Milton”

*[1835] Macaulay, “Minute on Indian Education” (NOTE: Version in M&T is incomplete). Victorian Web:         

Friday, September 7:  Anti-Slavery Afterlives: Politics, Poetry, Race Relations and the “Rosepink”

[1837] Harriet Martineau, “First Sight of Slavery”

*[1849/ 1853] Carlyle, “The Negro Question”

*[1849] Mill, “The Negro Question”

See The New School’s “Carlyle-Mill Negro Question Debate” Website:

*1857: Mary Seacole, Wonderful Adventures, Chapter One


Monday, September 10:  TOPIC SHEETS, PAPER # 1

Assignment: Choose one volume of a Victorian periodical in the library stacks. (NOTE: Make sure it’s nineteenth-century and British; publications after 1825 are safest.) Write a brief response, first to the volume’s contents as a whole, and then to some aspect of that volume that particularly interests you. Note: be sure to provide a complete, accurate bibliographic citation, including full title, volume number, date of publication, and author (if available). Cite specific title(s) and page numbers for any article(s) you find especially intriguing. If you find an article on which you might want to write later on, feel free to copy it (carefully) and attach it to your work. 

Wednesday, September 12: Introduction: “Faith, Doubt, and Knowledge” (M&T)

             *[1859] Mill, “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion”; “Of Individuality,” from On Liberty

Friday, September 14:

      *Mill, “Nature,” from On Liberty

     [1859] Charles Darwin, from On the Origin of Species


Monday, September 17: Labor, Poetry, the “Woman Question”         

                 *[1850] Sarah Stickney Ellis, “The Poetry of Woman,” from Guide to Social Happiness

                Paper #1 Due.

Wednesday, September 19: Negotiate Midterm Texts; Choose Final Readings

[1837] Harriet Martineau, Society in America, “Political Non-Existence of Women”

[1857; addresses 1836] Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë Vol. 1, Ch. 8 (M&T 526-29)

[1860, privately; 1885] Florence Nightingale, from Cassandra


Friday, September 21:

[1868] Frances Power Cobbe, from Criminals, Idiots, Women, and Minors

[1869] Mill, from The Subjection of Women


Monday, September 24: PAPER # 1 DUE

   [1859] Mill, from On Liberty, “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion,” (141-top paragraph 151)

Wednesday, September 26:

    [1859] Mill, from On Liberty, “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion,” (151-end)


Assignment: Choose one volume of a Victorian periodical in the library stacks. (NOTE: Make sure it’s nineteenth-century and British; publications after 1825 are safest.) Write a brief response, first to the volume’s contents as a whole, and then to some aspect of that volume that particularly interests you. Note: be sure to provide a complete, accurate bibliographic citation, including full title, volume number, date of publication, and author (if available). Cite specific title(s) and page numbers for any article(s) you find especially intriguing. If you find an article on which you might want to write later on, feel free to copy it (carefully) and attach it to your work. 



Monday, October 1: (Midpoint) MIDTERM EXAM 


[1859] Florence Nightingale, Cassandra

Friday, October 5:

[1857] Mary Seacole, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, I-VII (11-68)


Monday, October 8: 

Seacole, Wonderful Adventures VIII-XIV (69-127)

Wednesday, October 10:   PAPER #2 PROPOSALS DUE  (Bring a draft to class. Formal drafts will be due on Friday.)

Finish Seacole, Wonderful Adventures


[1869] Mill, from The Subjection of Women


Monday, October 8: PAPER #2 PROMPTS, PROPOSALS

 Thomas Carlyle, excerpt: “The Hero as Poet"

Wednesday, October 10:    Student-selected text: Reading/ Re-reading



Monday, October 15: Matthew Arnold, “Preface” to 1853 Poems

Wednesday, October 17: Matthew Arnold, "The Study of Poetry"

Friday, October 19:  PRESENTATIONS VOTE


Monday, October 22: 1859: Charles Darwin, from On the Origin of Species, “Difficulties with the Theory”

1894: Thomas Henry Huxley, from Evolution and Ethics

Wednesday, October 24:

1868: Thomas Henry Huxley, from A Liberal Education and Where to Find It

Friday, October 26: NO CLASS: FALL BREAK


Monday, October 29:

1890: Henry Morton Stanley, from In Darkest Africa

1890: William Booth, from In Darkest England and the Way Out

1897: Mary Kingsley, from Travels in West Africa

Wednesday, October 31:

1853: John Ruskin, from The Stones of Venice, “The Nature of Gothic,” 613-620

Friday, November 2:

1866: John Ruskin, from Traffic


Monday, November 5:

1866: Algernon Charles Swinburne, from “Notes on Poems and Reviews”

1871: Robert Buchanan, from “The Fleshly School of Poetry”

1871: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, from “The Stealthy School of Criticism”

Wednesday, November 7:

1863: Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Flip, fillip, flip, fleck, flake”

1879: Christina Rossetti, “Ice and Snow,” from Seek and Find

1878: William Morris, from The Lesser Arts

Friday, November 9:

1877/ 1879 Augusta Webster, “An Irrepressible Army”

1878/1879 Augusta Webster, “Poets and Personal Pronouns”                                       


Monday, November 12:    

Walter Pater, Preface to The Renaisssance

Wednesday, November 14:

Walter Pater, Conclusion to The Renaissance

November 16: 

1889/1891: Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying.” (Recommended points of focus: 1018-20; Column B, 1023-1024; Column B, 1027-Column A, 1028; First full paragraph, 1030-1035)

WEEK FIFTEEN: No Class: Thanksgiving Break


Monday, November 26: PAPER #2 DUE

1891: Oscar Wilde, from The Picture of Dorian Gray

1897: Oscar Wilde, from De Profundis

Wednesday, November 28: PRESENTATION or Student-selected text

Friday, November 30: PRESENTATION or Student-selected text




FINAL EXAM: FRIDAY, DEC. 7, 8:00 - 11:00 AM


See above.




 See above.  


Attendance is not taken. However, this is an active, discussion-based class: students may be asked to complete brief in-class writing assignments. These cannot be made up.


See above.

Makeup Policy

Except for in-class writing assignments, one of which will be dropped, class assignments may be made up on reasonable grounds, ideally with advance notice.