Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

ENGLISH 3VC3 Victorian Lit&Cultr&Afterlives

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Grace Kehler


Office: Chester New Hall 208

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23723

Office Hours: Wednesdays 4:30-5:30pm

Course Objectives:


This course concentrates on the literature and culture of the Victorian era, which is generally assumed to span from 1832 until 1901 (even though Queen Victoria did not take the throne until 1837). Looking at the generic properties of a variety of literary forms, the context in which they were produced, and a history of approaches to nineteenth-century literature, this course explores Victorian Britain’s key role in setting the agendas for Western modernity. Topics (which will change from year to year) may include the following: individualism and self-help; urbanization and poverty; free trade, globalization, and imperialism; rapid technological change; contested sexualities; commodity culture; culture as spectacle; psychological models of subjectivity; and evolutionary hopes and fears.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Text titles and website addresses are indicated in the Course Schedule. The longer texts, which you may wish to purchase in hard copy, are listed below. I will use the Norton Critical Editions, and these are readily available as new ( or used copies; you may use the web versions if you prefer. Whichever format you choose, always bring your primary texts to class.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. (1899, 1902)

Norton Critical Edition (readily available print edition)

OR Serialized Version in Blackwood’s Magazine (Feb 1899 — Apr 1899)

OR Judy Boss’ E-text at U of Virginia

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

Norton Critical Edition (readily available print edition) OR E-text

Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. (1895)

Norton Critical Edition (readily available print edition) OR E-text

Method of Assessment:


Student-led Discussions on Avenue                       15%          Fridays (online instead of in-class meeting)

Class Attendance and Participation                       10%                                                       Wednesdays

Term Paper (2000 words)                                     45%                          Due March 14th, 2018 (in class)

Final Exam (2 hours)                                            30%                                                          April 2018

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Policy

Any late postings for the Avenue, student-led discussions will be deducted two percent per day (including Saturdays and Sundays).

The term paper (worth 45% of your grade) is to be submitted in hardcopy to me on March 14th in class. Papers submitted on the due date will receive full commentary. Late papers may be submitted, without penalty, up until March 28th, but they will not receive commentary. Papers submitted after the 28th will be docked two percent per day (including Saturdays and Sundays.) April 4th is the final due date for the submission of term work.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


            **Please note that Student-Led Avenue Discussions will substitute for the Friday Class

Jan.10: Course Introduction

Jan. 17: The Great Exhibition of 1851

Auerbach, Jeffrey. “Exhibitions and Empire.” Empire Online

Read: Auerbach on the 1851 exhibition

View: a selection of images connected to each hyperlink in Auerbach’s article, including:

The Illustrated London News Vol.18, 1851. View: Images 7, 9, 29, 34, 77

Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of ..., 1854: View 10 different colour pictures, to get a sense of the diversity at the exhibit

Auerbach, Jeffrey. “The Great Exhibition and Historical Memory.” Journal of Victorian Culture, vol. 6, no. 1, 2001, pp 89-112.

            Scholarly article available online through library E-Resources OR at

Young, Paul. “’Carbon, Mere Carbon’: The Kohinoor, the Crystal Palace, and the Mission to Make Sense of British India.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts, vol. 29, no. 4, 2007, pp 343-58.

            Scholarly article available online through library E-Resources

V&A Video:

Topics: rhetoric of industry, progress, peace, and prosperity; globalization; mass culture; spectacle; architecture and symbolism of the Crystal Palace

Additional, Optional Resources:

Video by David de Han.

            (Excellent visuals; excessively detailed commentary)

Jaffe, Audrey. “On the Great Exhibition.”


Leckie, Barbara. “Prince Albert’s Exhibition Model Dwellings.”

Jan. 24: Idea(l) of Culture

Arnold, Matthew. Excerpts from Culture and Anarchy. Preface (i-x), Chapter 1, “Sweetness and Light” and Chapter 3, “Barbarians, Philistines, Populace” (1869)

Topics: technological progress; culture; light/enlightenment; freedom; class and classlessness

Jan. 31: Masculine Deviants

Browning, Robert. “My Last Duchess,” “Porphyria’s Lover,” “The Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister”

The Poetical Works (1888-94) by Browning, Robert, 1812-1889 (Ebook. Online at McMaster Library)

Feb. 7: Fallen Women

Contagious Diseases Acts (Summary)


Webster, Augusta.  “A Castaway.”  (Poem In Portraits 35-62, 1870)


Rossetti, Dante G. Paintings: The Girlhood of Mary Virgin, Ecce Ancilla Domini, Lady Lilith, Beatrice, The Blessed Damozel, Found.


Holman Hunt, William Awakening Conscience. Painting.

Egg, Leopold Augustus. Past and Present. Paintings. View all three in the triptych.

Feb. 14: Gentlemen and Monsters

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

Topics: self-divided Victorians; the human as animal; the professional, gentlemanly male; science & technology

Feb. 21: Term Break

Feb. 28: Gentlemen and Monsters (continued)

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

Topics: self-divided Victorians; the human as animal; the professional, gentlemanly male; science & technology

March 7 & 14: Comedy and Social Commentary

Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. (1895)

March 21 & 28: Empire, Revisited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. (1899)

April 4: Class Review


Other Course Information:

In-Class Attendance and Participation (Wednesdays)

Success in the course depends on consistent attendance at and participation in lectures. 10% of your final grade is based on regular, informed participation. In the class setting, it is particularly important that everyone observe rules of common courtesy. Laptops and phone may be used only for the purposes of note-taking and class-work. Contributions to discussion must be based on course material. Comments should always be collegial and respectful of others in the class.

Student-Led Discussions on Avenue (Fridays)

Responding to the week’s assigned texts, students will compose a total of three brief (500 word) discussions (worth 5% each) of a more recent text that engages with Victorian concerns. (Details to follow.)

Assignment Review and Grade Inquiries

Students must allow 24 hours after graded assignments are returned before approaching their TA with queries about their grade. Instructors and TAs are available to discuss grades only during office hours or by appointment; graded assignments will not be discussed via email. If you are unsure why you received a particular grade, read the comments over carefully and review the assignment details. If you are still unsure or would like clarification or tips for improving on your next assignment, please meet with your TA to discuss the grade.

If students would like to request a change to their grade, they must provide their TA with a written explanation outlining why they believe a higher grade is warranted, and be prepared to leave this with their TA for her/his consideration. If, after discussing the matter with their TA, an agreement cannot be reached, students can then make an appointment with both the TA and instructor together to discuss the circumstances. Please note that requests for a re-evaluation of assignment grades may result in a lower grade than was originally assigned if the instructor deems this warranted.

Disputes regarding grades will only be considered if students are able to present the original marked copy of the class work. For this reason, students should retain all pieces of work submitted and graded during the term. They should also retain a copy of any outlines, drafts and research notes in case of academic integrity concerns.

Avenue to Learn

In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn, the online learning management system at McMaster. Students should be aware that when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, usernames for the McMaster e-mail accounts and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

We use Avenue to distribute required readings and information about course assignments, including handouts and assignment guides, so you should make a point of accessing it frequently (at least twice per week) in order to keep up-to-date. Any announcements about changes to assigned readings, office hours or class cancellations will also be made through Avenue. Students who are unfamiliar with the Avenue system should familiarize themselves as soon as possible. If you have any questions please seek immediate assistance from your TA or instructor during office hours, or review the online tips available on the McMaster Avenue to Learn webpage.

Best Wishes for the Exam and Happy Summer Holidays!