Dickens, The Victorians and the Body - EN835

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 30 (15) DR V Cregan-Reid







This module explores the Victorians' fascination with the body and its metaphors. Using the works of Dickens as its principal lens, the module will explore notions of disease, infection, health and illness in the national body, the social body and the biological body. Engaging with debates on laissez-faire economics, prostitution, nationalism, and anxieties concerning sexual and fiscal production, this module will explore how authors, thinkers and artists of the nineteenth century worked through ideas about the body in Victorian culture.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 280
Total Study Hours: 300


Spring in 2019/20

Method of assessment

Assignment (5,000 words) – 100%

Indicative reading

Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually:

Beer, Gillian, (1983). Darwin's Plots, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Bown, Nicola, (et al, eds) (2005). The Victorian Supernatural, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Cocks, Harry, (2003). Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Djikstra, Bram, (1986). Idols of Perversity, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Foucault, Michael, (1981). History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction, London: Penguin
Halberstam, Judith (1995). Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters, Durham: Duke University Press
Ledger, Sally, (2006). Dickens and the Popular Radical Imagination, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Nead, Lynda (1988). Myths of Sexuality, Oxford: Blackwell
Pykett, Lyn, (1996). Reading Fin de Siecle Fictions, London: Longman

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a good reading knowledge of a major figure in English Literature and culture;

2. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship of Dickens to his age in one of the Programme's stated contexts: the part played by imaginative literature in addressing social problems;

3. Demonstrate a broad critical knowledge of a range of Victorian fiction, painting and photography, and a familiarity with the aesthetic writing of the period;

4. Demonstrate a knowledge of bibliographic and other research methods essential to the pursuit of original research;

5. Demonstrate their skills in effective communication of their ideas in both written and oral form, and be able to formulate a substantial research project.

6. Demonstrate the ability to apply new conceptual terms or frameworks to their study of literary and other cultural texts and to incorporate these into their own research.

7. Discuss an array of literary works with precision, nuance, and confidence.

8. Produce complex arguments in both spoken and written contexts.

9. Carry out independent research.

10. Analyse texts critically and make comparisons across a range of reading;

11. Show a good command of written English and articulate coherent critical arguments.


This module cannot be condoned or compensated for MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture students

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