module specification

SJ5003 - Victorians to Moderns (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Victorians to Moderns
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   1000 word review of critical essay
Coursework 30%   1500 word thematic commentary on set literary text
Coursework 50%   2500 word critical essay on set literary texts in relation to historical or cultural topic
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Morning

Module summary

Victorians to Moderns is a year long level 5 module which provides a continuation to the level 4 module Romantics to Victorians, and examines the transformations of English literature and culture from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. Through the study of literature, philosophy, criticism and the arts, the module develops the student’s critical understanding of cultural context and formal innovation in the English literary tradition. The module develops and extends a number of debates encountered in Romantics to Victorians, and introduces intellectual and critical debates proper to Modernism. These topics include Naturalism and the Social Sciences; Spiritualism and Esotericism; Decadence and Aestheticism; Psychoanalysis; The Machine and the City; Art, Manifesto and Revolt; The New Woman; & Fascism, Communism and War. The module is taught by weekly sessions comprising lecture and seminar, supplemented by tutorials, and assessed by a combination of critical essays, open-book tests and summaries.

Module aims

Victorians to Moderns aims to:

• criticise a range of literary materials from the period c.1880 to c.1950
• introduce complex critical and cultural debates central to the appreciation of literature written in the period
• provide a critical account of social, political and cultural developments in the period
• provide a critical framework for understanding the role of the imaginative writer in the period
• situate the English literature of the period in its national and international contexts


The module will follow the chronological development of literary and critical culture, and socio-economic history, from the 1880s to the immediate post-WWII period. The discussion of socio-historical, literary and cultural developments will be conducted through equal emphasis on literary and critical texts. Topics will include Ruskin vs Whistler; Aestheticism and Decadence; Degeneration and Cultural Anxiety; Friedrich Nietzsche; Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis; Taylorism; Impressionism & Post-Impressionism; Photography, Telegraph, Telephone, Film; Edwardian England; Suffragism and Labour; WWI; Weimar Culture; Architecture and the International Style, & Fascism, Communism and War. Authors to be studied will include Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, George Orwell, selected American texts and European texts in translation.

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught in weekly sessions that combine lectures, seminar discussion and small group activities, plus additional scheduled online or face-to-face tutorials. Lecture summaries will be available on weblearn along with other electronic resources that support the course. Students will have weekly set reading that will include novels, literary extracts, poetry, literary and cultural criticism, philosophy, periodical journalism, memoirs and collected letters. Reading and research tasks set over terms or over the year as a whole will also form part of the learning strategy, for example, tutor-led group curating of an online exhibition of representative texts and art works from the period; tutor-led discussion of a year in serial publications, for example, 1922 in The New Age(1907-1922) and 1914 inThe Egoist (1914-1919). Set topics for seminar and online discussion will be provided, along with tutorial help. A series of visits to London locations will enhance the course, for example, the Science Museum, the V&A Museum, the Freud Museum, the Estorick Collection, the Isokon Building, Highpoint I & II, 2 Willow Road, and Tate Modern.


Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1. analyse and contrast major themes of the literature of the period 1880 to 1950
2. demonstrate close-reading skills in the analysis of literary and cultural texts.
3. evaluate major developments in the social, political and cultural history of the period
4. compare, evaluate and judge cultural production across literary and artistic genres
5. identify and criticise literary, intellectual and cultural debates of the period

Assessment strategy

Formative assessment:

● weekly reading comprehension and summary exercises
● contribution to online activities/blogs/message boards
● staff feedback on seminar discussions
● staff feedback on written assignments
● peer evaluation by students
● staff feedback on in-class open-book tests

Assessment one
– 1000 word written assignment
Assessment two
– 1500 word written assignment

Summative assessment:

Assessment three
– 2500 word written assignment

Assessment total = 5000 words


James Eli Adams, A History of Victorian Literature (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) – e-book
Tim Armstrong, Modernism:  a cultural history (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005)
David Bradshaw & Kevin J.H. Dettmar, A Companion to Modernist Literature and Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006)
Christopher Butler, Early Modernism: literature, music and painting in Europe 1900-1916 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994)
Nicholas Daly, Literature, Technology and Modernity 1860-2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge university Press, 2004)
Philip Davis, The Victorians (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)
Michael Levenson, The Cambridge Companion to Modernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)
Deborah Parsons, Theorists of the Modernist Novel: James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf (London: Routledge, 2007)
Morag Shiach (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Modernist Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Philip Tew& Alex Murray, The Modernism Handbook (London: Continuum, 2009)
A. Walton Litz, Louis Menand& Lawrence Rainey (ed.s), The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Vol.7, Modernism and the New Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)
Alexandra Warwick & Martin Willis (ed.s), The Victorian Literature Handbook (London: Continuum, 2008)

The Modernist Journals Project at Brown University -
Modernism/Modernity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press) – e-journal
Oxford Art Online
Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) – e-journal
Victorian Studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press) – e-journal