WiSe 12/13: S-Culture-Gender-Media II: Faith and Doubt in Victorian England
In the course of the 19th century, the tremendous scientific progress increasingly questioned the authority of the Bible and the basic tenets of Christian belief. Victorian literature responded to ... read more
In the course of the 19th century, the tremendous scientific progress increasingly questioned the authority of the Bible and the basic tenets of Christian belief. Victorian literature responded to these challenges, expressing crises of faith and metaphysical anxiety, exploring the impact of secularisation both on the individual and society at large, and imagining a world without God. In this seminar we will study a wide range of Victorian writings against the background of the debates in the "Age of Doubt". Our readings will include (excerpts from) Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species (1859) and John Henry Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864), as well as Alfred Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam (1850), Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South (1854/55), Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure (1895), and poetry by Christina Rossetti, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Robert Browning, and Matthew Arnold. Language: The course will be taught in English (level C1). Texts: Students should purchase a copy of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South and Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure (preferably the Penguin Classics editions). In order to lighten the reading load during the semester, students may wish to read these two novels during the term break. Assessment will be on the basis of active participation in classroom activities and the submission of an essay (4,000 words).