English 270 - Winter, 2016

Studies in Contemporary World Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Roy, Parama
CRN: 22961
Time: T 3:10-6:00
Location: 120 Voorhies
Breadth: Later British
Focus: ID, Method


    Britishness, Empire, and the Victorians

    This seminar seeks in some measure to rise to the challenge of Regenia Gagnier’s declaration that we need to resituate the “Victorian” in a globalised setting. We will examine the dynamic and intimate relationships among concepts of indigeneity, race, empire, diaspora, and national belonging in the Victorian period. What forms of cultural labour were required to imagine domestic and imperial subject formation, citizenship, and national attachment/love in contexts that were, at this time, irreducibly global, trans-imperial, and trans-oceanic? We will seek to plot the emergence of a nineteenth-century geopolitical culture with multiple and globally dispersed nodes of production and circulation. At the same time we will endeavour to put pressure on the notion of Britishness itself, examining the Victorian preoccupation with its complex and contested racial-civilisational character. As Saree Makdisi notes, the civilising mission in the colonies was articulated with an “Occidentalising” mission in nineteenth-century Britain that sought to render the country’s own variegated populations properly western. Thus the course will devote as much attention to debates about the Anglo-Saxon revival, the “Norman yoke,” Celts, Jews and Arabs, and gypsies as to slavery and anti-slavery, orientalism, the empire of free trade, the Aliens Act, and to the crises, big and little wars, and scandals of empire (the Anglo-Afghan wars, the opium wars, the Irish famine, the Indian mutiny of 1857, the Morant Bay rebellion, the Anglo-Boer wars, the founding of Sinn Fein, etc.).

    Primary texts include Walter Scott, Ivanhoe; Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present and “Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question”; T.B. Macaulay, “Lord Clive”; Florentia Sale, A Journal of the Disasters in Affghanistan 1841-42; Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights; Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question”; Asenath Nicholson, Annals of the Famine in Ireland; Rudyard Kipling, “William the Conqueror”; Matthew Arnold, “On the Study of Celtic Literature”; Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor; Rider Haggard, She; Bram Stoker, Dracula; and Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent. Secondary readings include essays by Gil Anidjar, Saree Makdisi, Daniel E. White, Antoinette Burton, James Buzard, Linda Colley, William Dalrymple, Mary Ellis Gibson, Christopher Herbert, Engseng Ho, Sukanya Banerjee, Isabel Hofmeyr, David Glover, Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti, and Jenny Sharpe.


    Weekly posts to an online forum; prospectus and annotated bibliography; and a 15-20 page seminar paper.


    Ivanhoe, ed. Ian Duncan, Walter Scott
    Past and Present, ed. Richard Altick, Thomas Carlyle
    Wuthering Heights, ed. Beth Newman, Emily Bronte
    She, ed. Andrew M. Stauffer, H. Rider Haggard
    Dracula, ed. Nina Auerbach, Bram Stoker
    The Secret Agent, ed. Tanya Agathocleous, Joseph Conrad