Skip to main content


SEL2204 : Victorian Passions: Victorian Values

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jacob Jewusiak
  • Lecturer: Dr Ella Dzelzainis, Dr Kirsten MacLeod, Dr Ella Mershon
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 150 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module is designed to unpack the phrase, ‘Victorian values’, which nowadays invokes ideas of sexual repression, stifling middle-class morality, an unbending religious code, and jingoistic insularity. Yet the Victorians saw themselves as living in an age of unprecedented social change, engaging in passionate and controversial debates about the values of the world in which they lived. The module will explore five key debates – questions of gender/sexuality; religion; nature/science; class; race and empire – as they appeared in a range of different genres across the early, mid and late Victorian periods. In the course of the module students will:

Explore some of the most controversial debates of the Victorian period and their articulation in a range of Victorian literary texts.
Consider the formal expression of these debates in a range of different and developing literary genres.
Consider the discursive relationship between text and context in the Victorian novel.
Consider the relationship between literature, history and ideology.
Practise appropriate skills of critical analysis.

Outline Of Syllabus

Each of the topics - gender/sexuality; religion; nature/science; class; race and empire - will be explored in a range of literary genres. Indicative texts and authors may include Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone; Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market; Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Books; George Bernard Shaw, Mrs Warren's Profession; Douglas Jerrold, The Rent Day; H. Rider Haggard, She; and queer poetry.

Keywords: femininity and masculinity; queer and transgressive sexualities; class conflict; race and empire; faith and doubt; ecocriticism and history of science; fantasy and realism; drama and theatre; poetry; novel; children’s literature.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion135:0035:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading190:0090:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study131:0031:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures are designed to introduce students to the texts to be studied, providing as much information about the period as possible and demonstrating strategies of reading which link texts to their context. The scheduled online contact time and workshops encourage students to incorporate this knowledge and develop these strategies in their own reading practice.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A753000 words
Written exercise1M251000 word commentary
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Portfolio1MEssay plan and bibliography to prepare for final essay submission.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The commentary tests close reading skills and awareness of the relationship between text and context. The longer essay tests the more complex strategies of reading which take into account the wider Victorian context and competing ideologies of the period.

The formative assessment prepares students for the final essay by asking them to develop a preliminary argument and outline primary and/or secondary research on their topic.

Reading Lists