Strange Victorians Gallery

Part of Group:

The Victorian period was one of great change for Britain. Comprised of the years of Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901), it featured the rapid industrialization and urbanization of Britain, and the radical expansion of the British empire. Although these changes improved the quality of life for some Victorians, many more were forced to work under inhumane conditions, live in unsanitary and insalubrious environments, or suffered the violent oppressions of colonial rule. While we may think of the Victorian period as a distant, different era, this class argues that Victorians faced some of the same issues we deal with today, including systemic racism, sexism and gender-based oppression, opioid addiction, ecological disasters, and public health crises, to name but a few. 

“Strange Victorians: Mystery, Madness, and the Monstrous” explores how the boundaries around that which we consider strange, other, and abnormal are established, policed, and sometimes breached. Of course, any examination of the strange also invites us to interrogate what we consider “normal,” particularly in a period during which so many cultural norms were established. In general, through its examination of a series of popular, best-selling novels and a selection of supplemental texts, this course examines historical, philosophical, and cultural trends that shaped the era’s literature and were shaped by it. Moreover, it will consider what parallels and through lines we can draw between the Victorian era and the twenty-first century and contemplate the value of continuing to study Victorian authors and texts today.