School of English and Drama

Victorian Literature

The Victorian Literature pathway is an opportunity to explore a wide range of literature written in Britain between 1832 and 1900.

Please note for 2019/20 entry:

Our MA English Programmes are currently undergoing a review to ensure the content continues to offer an outstanding teaching and learning experience for our students. 

Your programme will offer specially-designed core modules alongside the opportunity to choose from a range of electives in specialist areas.

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The pathway’s compulsory module, ‘Victorian Voices’, introduces you to a range of Victorian literary representations of identity. The module challenges the popular notion that there is a monolithic Victorian view of things by presenting a wealth of different perceptions and perspectives.

Drawing on canonical and non-canonical poetry and prose by male and female Victorian authors, the module explores ways of expressing core aspects of self while also considering the implications of audience and contexts. In addition, you choose from a range of option modules specialising in aspects of the period’s fiction, poetry, drama, and journalism.

You’ll have the opportunity to develop your own individual interests and to conduct independent research through the writing of a dissertation supervised by a specialist in the field of Victorian Studies. QMUL’s Victorian scholars are particularly strong on the historical, cultural, and theoretical contexts for 19th-century writing.

You’ll be taught in small seminar groups and be introduced to key resources for the study of Victorian literature through a module in research methods. You will further benefit from our location in London’s historic East End.

You may also opt to take a cognate elective module offered by the Schools in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and by other Colleges of the University of London. 

Academics delivering the MA Victorian Pathway have diverse interests such as the sublime and the visionary, London and the coast, and print media, but we are all committed to shedding new light on the relationship between aspects of material culture and the Victorian literary imagination. We all approach cultural history from fresh angles, such as the senses, the media, or geography. We have core strengths in both poetry and fiction, and have published on many of the era’s most famous authors such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and W. M. Thackeray, but we also advocate for less familiar voices like Edward Bulwer-Lytton, John Addington Symonds, E. W. Hornung, and Vernon Lee.

We have all recently published new books. Matthew Rubery’s The Untold Story of the Talking Book (Harvard University Press, 2016) traces the evolution of sound recordings of literary texts back to the nineteenth century, Catherine Maxwell’s Scents & Sensibility: Perfume in Victorian Literary Culture (OUP, 2017) addresses perfume and the olfactory imagination in Victorian literary culture, while Matthew Ingleby’s Bloomsbury: Beyond the Establishment (British Library, 2017) explores the role one metropolitan neighbourhood has historically played in the production of new ideas, values, and lifestyles. We are all actively engaged in London’s vibrant Victorian studies research culture, convening and otherwise contributing to long-standing forums at the Institute of English Studies, Senate House, such as Media History Seminar and Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar.

Compulsory modules

Option modules

You choose three modules from a list of options that changes from year to year (one can be from the range of modules offered across the MA English Studies curriculum). 

In 2017-2018 we hope to offer the following. If members of our specialist research staff win research funding it will mean that their module won’t run, so for that reason this list is indicative only.  

You may, subject to availability and the approval of the School, take one of your option modules from across a range offered by other Schools in the Humanities and Social Science Faculty, or from other Colleges of the University of London.

In addition to taught modules, we run a range of research seminars to which all MA students are invited. Some of these are linked to our interdisciplinary Research Centres, such as the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, the Centre for Religion and Literature in English and the Centre for the History of the Emotions. Others are collaborations with other institutions, such as the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar. With visiting speakers from across the world, these seminars are an opportunity to meet other postgraduate students and members of staff and to learn about the latest developments in research.