General Information

Professor Landow (office: 338 Carr House; e-mail:; office hours: 2.00-2:50, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Class meets in 218 Carr [70Brown Street], 3-4:50 AM, Monday. Class website: Victorian Web

Course Description

The course explores some of the ways the Bible and modes of Bible interpretation provided cultural codes that formed and informed a wide range of Victorian texts, including autobiography, fiction, poetry, art criticism, and sage-writing. The course, which examines the implications for gender and genre of contemporary conceptions of typology, prophecy, and apocalypse, reads works by Charlotte Brontë, the Brownings, Carlyle, Hopkins, Newman, the Rossettis, Ruskin, and Swinburne as well as Victorian and earlier writings about biblical interpretation.

Reading List

Note: Check this on-line reading list at the beginning of each week since assignments may change or be reordered.

Weekly discussion questions. The weekly reading and discussion question has three parts: (a) depending upon whether the week's subject involves art or literature, you will either cite a painting or include substantial passage of 1-3 paragraphs (please don't forget page numbers -- and to give your question set a title); (b) a graceful and effective introduction to the passage or the aspect of the painting that suggests why the reader wants to examine it closely; and (c) 4-5 questions, chiefly concerning matters of technique, for which you do not have to have answers. These exercises, which provide the basis of class discussion, should be e-mailed to me no later than 6 pm Sunday before we begin discussing the reading. (You can skip a single set of questions during the semester.) Follow for an example of such reading questions for another course.

Weeks 1 and 2. 8 through 17 September. Introduction to Victorian Religion, Biblical Interpretation, and Contemporary Sources -- Sermons, Commentaries, and Tracts

Reading: (1) Victorian religious denominations and their use of typological interpretation -- Introduction and Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, Landow, Victorian Types. (2) T. H. Horne's "On the Interpretation of Types." (3) Begin exploring The Victorian Web materials on religion. (4) The sermon as literary and cultural form: Henry Melvill, The Death of Moses" and J.H.Newman, "Moses the Type of Christ."

Week 3. 27 September. Victorian Understandings of Old Testament Prophecy and the Victorian Sage: Carlyle and Ruskin.

Reading: (1) Thomas Carlyle, "Signs of the Times" (text) "Hudson's Statue" (annotated text and commentary). (2) John Ruskin, "Traffic." (3) Selections from Landow, Elegant Jeremiahs: Victorian Understanding of the Old Testament Prophets; The Prophet's Four-Part Pattern; parts of Chapter I, The Prophetic Pattern and Chapter II, The Symbolical Grotesque that discuss Carlyle and Ruskin.

Week 4. 4 October. Victorian Apocalyptics and Gender Matters: the Victorian Woman's Bible and Women's Right to Interpret

Reading: (1) Mary Wilson Carpenter, Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies: Women, Sexuality, and Religion in the Victorian Market, Chapters 1-3, 6; (2) Victorian Web materials. by Carpenter and Landow. Discussion questions: Sikorski and Flynn

Suggested additional reading: Mary Wilson Carpenter, George Eliot and the Landscape of Time.

Weeks 5 and 6. 4 and 13 (?) October. Typology, Characterization, the Dramatic Monologue and Other Poetic Forms

Reading: "Porpyhria's Lover" [text], "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St. Praxed's," "Saul," The Ring and the Book; materials on the dramatic monologue.

Monday 11 October Columbus Day Holiday [meet later in week at Prof.Landow's home?]

Week 7. 18 October. Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre: Typological Symbolism, Imagery, and Characterization

Reading: (1) Jane Eyre. (2) Reading questions and other materials about the novel.

Week 8. 24 October. Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Typology, Aesthetic Theory, and the Poem-as-novel

Reading: (1) Aurora Leigh. (2) Reading questions and other materials in the Victorian Web about the poem.

Week 9. 1 November. Alfred Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam: Typology as Poetic Resolution

Reading: (1) In Memoriam. (2) Reading questions and supplementary materials in the Victorian Web.

Week 10. 8 November. Typology and the Visual Arts: Pre-Raphaelitism

Reading: Chapter 4, Victorian Types.

Week 11. 15 November. D. G. Rossetti, A. C. Swinburne, and Extended Types in Pre-Raphaelite Poetry

Reading: Swinburne, "Hymn to Prosperine" [text], Dirae [text], Before a Crucifix" [text], "By the North Sea" [text]; "Swinburne and Secularized Typology".

Rossetti, "The Woodspurge," ""The Blessed Damozel," and The House of Life. "'Life touching lips with immortality': Rossetti's Temporal Structures" (from Victorian Types, Ch.6).

Weeks 12 and 13. 22 and 29 November. Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Extended Type

Reading: (1) All poems in Works. (2) Landow, "'Yet hear my paradox': Hopkins's Typological Allusions" from Ch.6, Victorian Types. (3) Materials about Hopkins.

24-28 November. Wednesday noon to Sunday. Thanksgiving recess

Weeks 13. 6 December.

11-20 December: Final Exam Period

Final project due when final exam is scheduled.

Books Ordered

Related Resources

A substantial portion of the readings, including primary and secondary texts on Victorian religion, biblical interpretation, and relevant literature, are available on-line, mainly in the Victorian Web.

Last modified November 2004