Victorian Sustainability - EN902

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
View Timetable
7 30 (15)







This module will chart the emergence of ideas associated with ecology, conservation and sustainability in the Victorian period through examining various writings on the relationship between culture and environment. We will examine Victorian literary texts in which human interaction with – and connection to – the environment is a central concern and will consider these literary depictions alongside non-fictional essays which advocated a diverse range of environmental or ecological causes in the nineteenth century (urban regeneration and cultural heritage, nature conservation and animal rights, self-sufficiency and alternative communities). We will also examine how the British imperial operations overseas influenced and shaped ideas of environmentalism and sustainability.
Informed by current scholarship in ecocriticism, sustainability studies and animal studies, this module will consider how class, gender, sexuality, race and nationalism influenced the articulation of critical responses to Victorian modernity and generated new ideas concerning culture and nature, human and animal, environment and economy, urban and rural, community and technology.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

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


Available in Autumn Term 2019/20

Method of assessment

100% coursework

Position Paper (1,000 words) – 10%
Major Written Assignment (5,000 words) – 90%

Indicative reading

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

Charles Dickens, Dombey & Son [1848] (any edition)
Thomas Hardy, The Woodlanders [1887] (any edition)
Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Books [1894-5] (Penguin Classics, 2013)
Marianne North, Recollection of a Happy Life: being the Autobiography of Marianne North [1892] (any edition)
Ebenezer Howard, Garden Cities of Tomorrow [1902] (any edition)
William Morris, News from Nowhere [1890] (any edition)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of ecological literary criticism, and critically apply it to literature of the Victorian period;

2 Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the literature of the Victorian period, through studying lesser-known authors alongside canonical texts;

3 Demonstrate their understanding of the historical emergence of ideas of conservation and sustainability in diverse Victorian contexts, as reflected in literature of the period.

4 Apply new conceptual terms or frameworks to their study of literary texts and incorporate these in their own research;

5 Demonstrate a greater awareness of the complexities of historical contexts, ideas, and texts;

6 Convey new or complex ideas in written or oral form with greater clarity.

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