ENGL 364A (3 cr): Nineteenth Century Studies: The Victorian Novel


Mode of Delivery

This is a print-based, correspondence course.

Course Outline

  • Four assignments
  • Final examination

Course Description and Prerequisites

This course examines developments in the novel from Dickens to Thomas Hardy. The distance education version of this course requires the close critical examination of seven Victorian novels.


Six credits of first year English, or Arts One, or Foundations, and Third-Year standing.

Intended Student

The audience for this course consists of people with a serious interest in nineteenth-century English literature, and particularly the novels of that period.  Among the registrants will be students who are University of British Columbia undergraduates (often specializing in English) working towards the Bachelor’s Degree, teachers in the process of updating their qualifications, geographically distant students who are unable to attend regular university sessions, and students from other B.C. universities taking the course for transfer credit. Some of you may be returning to the study of literature after an absence of several years, in which case English 364A will accommodate you well. The course assumes a general familiarity with the elements of prose fiction such as style, theme, plot, characterization and point of view, plus the previous study of one or two novels in detail. It also assumes that you have written at least one essay on a novel, although advice on essay writing is provided.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of English 364A, you will be able:

  1. to foster historical perspective, especially on how Victorian writers  viewed their own time;
  2. to promote an awareness of the wide stylistic variety in Victorian fiction;
  3. to develop an understanding of the main issues which preoccupied Victorian writers, and the general context in which these ideas were considered;
  4. to increase analytical skills through the writing of course assignments; and
  5. to make further explorations of the Victorian era and its imaginative literature.

Course Overview

English 364A in its correspondence form provides you an opportunity to study some of the masterpieces of Victorian fiction. In the process you should develop critical and analytical skills, and recognize something of the rich variety represented by the genre in the age which saw the novel come into its own as a dominant literary form. Since the seven novels selected obviously cannot mirror the complete range of Victorian fiction, and since the course does not set out to trace the history of the novel or to place the Victorian era in contrast with other periods, the official course title “the Victorian novel” may give rise to misleading expectations. It would be more accurate to follow the implications of the subtitle of Professor U. C. Knoepflmacher’s book Laughter and Despair: Readings in Ten Novels of the Victorian Era. In short the course offers critical readings in seven Victorian novels.

Each lesson provides a critical discussion of a single novel which is intended to motivate and guide you in their own exploration. The format includes a selection of relevant background and supplementary materials which illuminate issues in the chosen texts which might otherwise present you with difficulty. Each lesson concludes with a choice of essay and study questions and a brief selected bibliography.

Course Work

The first part of the course work consists of four written assignments. Three of these essays are short (1,000-1500 words, or approximately five typed double spaced pages), the fourth is a term paper (2,000-3,000 words).

A final examination completes the course requirements.


The 100 marks awarded for English 364A will be divided into the following percentages:

  • Three Short Essays @ 15% each – 45%
  • One Term Paper – 25%
  • Final Exam – 30%T

TextbooksENGL364A Textbook Order Form

  • Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations (Ed. Mitchell, Intro. Trotter). Penguin. ISBN:  9780141439563
  • Butler, S. The Way of All Flesh. Penguin. ISBN: 9780140430127
  • Norton Package; ISBN 9780393187342 – Picture of Dorian Gray, Vanity Fair, Jude the Obscure, Jane Eyre, Hard Times.
  • ENGL 364A Learner Package – which includes the course manual.

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