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Narrative Practices in Poetry and Prose

This course will explore narrative themes and tropes of Victorian literature as presented in the poetry and fiction of a wide range of British authors. Themes will include transgressive sexualities, the supernatural, the visual imagination, and storytelling itself. Germane to this last one are the differing practices of form that we will encounter throughout the semester, such as variations on narrative point of view from the more typical first- and third-person variety to the multi-layered texts that contain embedded narratives (told by characters within the stories) and/or different modes of transmission made manifest in things like fictional diary entries, letters, newspaper clippings, and transcriptions of recordings. The tremendous broadening of narrative structures such as these in literature of the nineteenth century clears the way for further expansion and experimentation on the part of modernist writers emerging at the start of the twentieth century. The substantial influence of Victorian literature extends well beyond that, though. Both the adventurousness of Victorian stories and the ingenuities of their formal presentations have inspired the flourishing neo-Victorian and Steampunk movements in current literature, film, and other visual arts.

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