The Brontes in Context - ENGL6570

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 6 30 (15) Lars Atkin checkmark-circle


While the so-called 'Brontë myth' remains potent in popular culture today, the lives-and-works model associated with it continues to encourage readers to seek partially concealed Brontë sisters in their fictions. Beginning and ending with the problematic of mythmaking – its origins in Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë and its subsequent perpetuation in film and other rewritings - this module will restore attention to the rich literary contribution made by the sisters through an intensive focus on their novels and some poetry in the context of Victorian debates about gender and the woman question. Situating the Brontë myth in relation to other forms of mythmaking in the period (for example, ideologies of class, gender and empire), it will consider a small selection of film adaptations and go on to examine the Brontës’s experiments with narrative voice and form, their variations upon the novel of education, the tensions between romance and realism in their writing and their engagement with the political, economic and social conditions of women in mid-Victorian culture.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 32
Private study hours: 268
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Learning Journal 2,000 words 35%
Essay 3,000 words 45%
Seminar/forum participation 20%

Reassessment methods:
100% coursework (4,500 words)

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

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 the Brontë sisters;
2. demonstrate a knowledge of some of the major issues involved in debates about gender and the 'Woman question' in Victorian literature and culture;
3. demonstrate a critical awareness of the complex ways in which the Brontës' literary texts engage with their cultural contexts;
4. demonstrate an ability to distinguish between different modes of writing and a developing capacity for critical analysis of each;
5. demonstrate an understanding of the processes involved in the Brontë myth;
6. demonstrate broader and deeper understanding of the relationship between this literature and the age in which it was produced;
7. reflect upon how authors are made popular by subsequent cultural transformations and explore the implications of such myth-making.

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

1. apply the skills needed for academic study and enquiry;
2. synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of theory and practice; ability to synthesise material from a number of sources in a coherent whole;
3. develop powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view, using a variety of methods, with clarity, organisation and cogency;
4. demonstrate confidence in the efficient presentation of ideas designed to stimulate critical debate;
5. demonstrate competence in the planning and execution of essays and project-work;
6. understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives;


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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