January 27, 2013

Questions for week 4

Gwendolyn Harleth (BBC, 2002)

Apologies that these were not posted sooner this week - please take as a guide for what we'll be covering in tomorrow's seminars, but don't worry if you don't have time to prepare.

  • F.R. Leavis famously claimed that Daniel Deronda is a novel of two halves: a "bad" half in its story of Daniel, and a "great" novel in the story of Gwendolyn; meanwhile George Eliot stated that she "meant everything in the book to be related to everything else there". How do you interpret Leavis's statement? What is the relationship between the two narratives, and would Gwendolyn's story be "great" without Deronda's?
  • What ideas around nation, national community and national place does the novel raise?
  • Europe is prominent throughout Eliot's work and she travelled to the continent many times. What ideas around European community does the novel raise?

January 24, 2013

Extracts for week 5

The extracts for week 5 are now on the module homepage - see the right hand sidebar for a document labelled "Aesthetics extracts for unit 4".

Essay writing resources have been uploaded on the previous blog post, which you will need to be signed in to view.


January 14, 2013

Week 3 Questions

For The Moonstone seminar please think about the following questions:

  • The objectivity and stability of categories of understanding and perceiving the world: think about the questions of truth and rationality that the text raises, both through its narrative technique and the subject position of different narrators, as well as in the context of nation and empire.
  • The potential for chaos through global circulation: what issues around circulation and connection does the novel raise both in national and global contexts?
  • "The discovery of the truth" and "the finding of the diamond" are two separate parts in the novel, thereby emphasising issues of "truth" and "possession" as separate concerns. Think about how these concerns run parallel/ interrelate in the text, and what value is given to each.

The Great Exhibition of 1851

In the Bleak House classes today I talked about the Great Exhibition of 1851 as one important context in which to situate the novel. These watercolours by Henry Clarke Pidgeon give an idea of the objects on display and, in the second picture, the size and scale of the Crystal Palace:

Watercolours of Great Ex

Watercolour 2

The building itself is interesting because the iron and glass architecture produced an unfamiliar experience of space, disrupting perceptions of size, distance and scale - seemingly objective, stable categories of understanding one's position in the world. I've written a bit more about this here.

The Great Exhibition also provides context for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone: the "moonstone" itself was inspired by the Koh-I-Noor diamond which was on display at the Exhibition:

diamond.png

(visitors viewing the Koh-I-Noor)

The Guardian's "From the Archive" series brought to light a piece about the Exhibition shortly after its opening in 1851, noting that "the English showed most curiosity about the foreign half of the exhibition, while foreigners eagerly inspected the British department", and briefly mentioning the Koh-i-noor which "appeared to be the chief object of attraction among the fairer portion of the assemblage".

I've written more about the Great Exhibition and connections on my research blog.


January 08, 2013

Week 2 preparation on Bleak House

200px-bleakhouse_serial_cover.jpg

For the week 2 seminar on Bleak House I would like you to prepare by focusing on one minor character (or small set of characters) in the novel.

Think about:

  • why they are significant and what they contribute to the novel;
  • the thread of their narrative development throughout the novel, who they connect with, where they go etc;
  • how they relate to overarching themes we're looking at, particularly ideas around "nation and narration".

January 02, 2013

Week 1 Questions

Bleak House cover

We'll be starting the first seminar of the term with a recap of the novels studied so far and then thinking about how Bleak House fits into the emerging trajectory of "the English 19th century novel". In preparation for this I'd like you to think about the following:

  • What themes and ideas have been predominant throughout the novels studied? What picture of the 19th century have these built up?
  • What narrative techniques have we seen used - form, style, structure, narrative voice etc?
  • How does Bleak House fit into this - what themes and contexts does it raise as significant? What literary techniques can you identify? How does its handling of "the condition of England" resonate with or differ from the novels of last term?

You could also start to think about issues around connection, circulation and networks in Bleak House which we'll discuss more in week 2.


December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas!

christmas.png

The first Christmas card sent in 1843

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and New Year!


December 16, 2012

19th Century vacation viewing

I mentioned in the last week of classes that a BBC adaptation of Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone is coming up over the vacation but I can't find any further information on this and it looks as though it may have been delayed until 2013.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other very good adaptations for the texts of the next unit. The 2005 Bleak Housewith Anna Maxwell Martin as Esther and Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock is an excellent watch, managing to capture much of the novel's complexity over 15 episodes. On the University of Warwick's Celebrating Dickens website you can hear screenwriter Andrew Davies talking to Jon Mee about the making of Bleak House; there are also a number of other podcasts on Bleak House and Victorian Britain which might be of interest.

The BBC's Daniel Deronda is also very good. Ones that I have yet to watch, but which come highly recommended from colleagues, include this Moonstone and Jude.

If you've watched any adaptations that you'd recommend then do share in the comments.


November 30, 2012

Week 10 Questions

The Farmer

Questions for the week 10 seminar on Tess of the D'Urbervilles:

  • Merryn Williams asserts that "Tess Durbeyfield, over and above her qualities as a person, is portrayed as a representative of her class and her sex". Consider the extent to which you agree with this statement, and the intersection of class and gender in the portrayal of Tess.
  • What different models of masculinity does the novel present?
  • The rural landscape is central to the novel; think about how locality is represented, and the implications of moving beyond this locale.

November 23, 2012

Week 9 Questions

A clip from the 2004 BBC adaptation of North and South, which provides a useful visualisation of inside the factory.

Questions to prepare for week 9 seminars on Gaskell's North and South:

  • Think about the spatial politics of England in the novel: what meanings are attached to "North" and "South"? What is the significance and effect of this as a framework for the novel's central issues?
  • Class relations: how are cross-class relations depicted, and why are these important to the narration of Industrial dispute? How are both sides of the dispute depicted, and where does the novel's sympathy lie?
  • What gender issues does the text raise? How do gender and class intersect?
  • What connections does the novel make between regional and international affairs?

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