Charles Dickens and Victorian England - EN580

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 30 (15) DR M Shaw




Not available as wild



This module gives an opportunity for intensive study of one of the major novelists of Victorian England. There are many different views and interpretations of Dickens circulating in our culture. He has been dismissed as a writer of cosy sentimentality, celebrated as a radical critic of his age, and admired for his prodigious output and creative innovation.

Studying a selection of his fiction, we will consider a wide variety of interpretations, in the light of the most current literary criticism of Dickens's works. We will analyse Dickens’s texts in terms of narrative method, genre, characterisation, imagery and book history and – in the process – we will examine how the novels respond to, or challenge, significant aspects of Victorian culture and society such as class, gender, family, nation, childhood, the city, empire, industrialisation, and modernity.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

10 x 2-hour seminars and 10 x 1-hour lectures

Method of assessment

Assessments will be in the form of two equally-weighted essays (3000 words each) constituting 45% each of the final mark, with the other 10% accounted for by a seminar performance mark (in accordance with the criteria published in the School of English Undergraduate Handbook).

Indicative reading

Dickens, Charles (1853), Bleak House
Dickens, Charles (1843) A Christmas Carol
Dickens, Charles (1850), David Copperfield
Dickens, Charles (1861), Great Expectations
Dickens, Charles (1841), The Old Curiosity Shop

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 demonstrate an informed understanding of the diverse literary achievements of Charles Dickens and of the cross-fertilisation of literary genres in his work

2 distinguish between different modes of writing and develop critical approaches appropriate to each mode

3 demonstrate a deepened understanding of the culture of Victorian England,

4 demonstrate an ability to communicate the results of their critical reading, to argue a point of
view with cogency and clarity, and to offer persuasive textual analyses in both written and oral
forms of communication.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 apply the techniques and terminology of close reading to a range of novels

2 apply understanding of historical context to the interpretation of literary texts

3 undertake self-directed research and critically evaluate secondary theoretical and historical perspectives in that research

4 construct coherent, articulate and well-supported arguments both in oral presentations and written work.

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.