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EN3165 'Loose Baggy Monsters': The Rise and Fall of the Victorian Novel

SCOTCAT credits:30
Academic year(s):2017/8
SCQF Level 9
Planned timetable:9.00 am - 11.00 am Wed

In spite of what Henry James's famously disparaging characterisation of Victorian novels as 'loose baggy monsters' might suggest, the novel was, without a doubt, the dominant cultural form of the Victorian period. From the prudent and proper to the rude and risqué, and from the 1830s to the fin de siècle, the Victorian novel was, in its own time, a capacious, malleable and contested form of cultural production, and one which continues to resist easy categorisation today. On this module we will explore the rich heterogeneity of the Victorian novel through close examination of works by a range of canonical and non-canonical authors. We will examine the changing shape of the novel throughout the nineteenth century (from the sprawling 'monstrosity' of the triple-decker to the compact neatness of the proto-modernist aesthetic of the 1890s), as well as the range of novelistic genres that proliferated at this time (including realism, sensation, the industrial novel, Victorian gothic, horror, adventure, and science fiction), and consider the ways in which the cultural, social and political values of Victorian Britain are both encoded and contested in the novels of the age.

Place in programme(s) and relationship to other modules


Group C Optional for English and BA (Intl Hons) English

UG Pre-requisite(s):EN2003, EN2004

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact:2-hour seminar, and 2 optional consultative hours.
Total module hours:
  • Scheduled learning: 20
  • Guided independent study: 280

Assessment pattern

UG As defined by QAA:
  • Written examinations: 50%
  • Practical examinations: 0%
  • Coursework: 50%
UG As used by St Andrews:2-hour Written Examination = 50%, Coursework = 50%
UG Re-assessment:3-hour Written Examination = 100%


Module coordinator:TBC
Module teaching staff:TBC