Altoona 2020 British Survey Dashboard


Hayter's Queen Victoria, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hayter's Queen Victoria, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons



Steampunk Ladies, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It is natural to compare and contrast one's own ideas and world with those found in any literature one reads; this class is crafted so that we foster those comparisons and contrasts. In other words, this class will plunge you into worlds inhabited by Romantics who rival today's most eccentric entertainers, Victorians who probe social, political, and even sexual questions that still plague us today, and Modernists (and Postmodernists) who, like us, try to make some sense out of all previous traditions. By comparing the writers, characters, and texts of these three literary periods between themselves and with our own, this class will move inductively to the "big questions" that have come to characterize the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern periods of British literature. Thus, as we read our way through the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, our attention will be focused on issues such as gender and familial politics, national and international relations, literary and artistic ideals AND the interactions between all of those ideas. This focus should help identify similarities and differences—stasis and growth—between the literary periods. It should also lead us to question what "old things" are "new again" and whether we should embrace or discard them.

While this approach makes us, as a class, more active in identifying Romantic artistic ideals, Victorian social anxieties, and Modern disillusionment, it also positions us in ways similar to past British readers, who, like the writers of the time, were creating and participating in the dialogues that shaped these periods by deciding what old and new ideas and artistic techniques should be embraced or discarded. In other words, in this class we will enter the time periods focused on both cultural and artistic history.

Ultimately, then, this class is designed to bring home the idea that the "Romantic Hero," the "Woman Question," and "Modernism" were not ideas until writers and readers made them topics for discussion. More globally, the goals of this classare 1) to introduce you to the main literary and social concerns of these time periods; 2) to exercise and enhance your close reading skills; and 3) to appreciate and synthesize others' readings of literature with your own. 

One bonus of this course is that it can serve as a prerequisite to a one-week trip to London. This trip will next occur late-May 2021. I will talk about this trip some in class, but if you are interested, please ask me any questions you might have.

A further bonus of this course we'll also be using THIS EXCITING new Learning and Teaching Tool--COVE (the Central Online Victorian Educator)--as a SOURCE OF YOUR READINGS and to create a timeline and map that will help us better understand the literary periods we will investigate.

Steampunk Ladies ABOVE,  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Galleries, Timelines, and Maps

Posted by Laura Rotunno on Sunday, April 12, 2020 - 14:36

This site will allow us to create a map of SOME of the MANY sites that appear in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. As explained in the paper assignment packet's description of the 


you will be assigned a site to research (remember you'll be finding 1925 and 2020 info on this place) and place on our map. You'll then be asked to read all students' map contributions and then compose a short paper, exploring how this immersion in a real London helps you understand ONE of Woolf's characters.

Posted by Laura Rotunno on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 15:12

This timeline offers just a few of the many events that shaped Victorian Britain and her people. You will be assigned one of these events to learn about for the 


Jumping right into this event after it is assigned will be vital so that it can be in your mind throughout our readings of our Victorian literary texts. That's vital because you will ultimately be asked how a Victorian who lived through that event would have somehow linked that event to one of our literary texts.

Individual Entries

Posted by Marie Weaverling on Sunday, April 19, 2020 - 23:05

The Strand stood as London’s epicenter for entertainment. From restaurants, music halls, pubs, to smoking rooms, there were a plethora of establishments people could choose from to have an enjoyable evening. The most notable landmark on the street was the Strand Palace Hotel. During the 1920s, the hotel began renovations and adopted the art deco style, which would become synonymous with the hotel’s iconic status as “one of London's most opulent” (Reynolds). On the economic side, Coutts and Company, “one of the oldest surviving banks in London” (Hibbert et al. 213) which has long resided on the Strand, began to branch its reach and wealth throughout London. One could describe the street as having an air of affluent amusement.

Unfortunately, a good amount of the Strand’s establishments did not survive into contemporary times. For instance, only three theaters remain out of all Strand’s theaters and musical...

Posted by Elizabeth Pecora on Sunday, April 19, 2020 - 17:56

Regent’s Park is a beautiful and prominent part of British history. A staple in British culture, Regent’s Park rich history spans over hundreds of years and provides a wealth of information which can be used to understand more about this esteemed location in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. During the 1920’s Britain was attempting to regain some sense of normalcy after the events of World War I. In fact, in the midst of the war Regent’s Park was used as a military training ground. Historic England writes, “During the First World War the park was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence, land to the north-west and along the east sided being used as a military camp and drill ground”.  After the war, sports fields were added in an attempt to make the park feel like a park once more. Prior to the war, large villas had been constructed mainly as private dwellings for the wealthy. However, during the 1920’s these villas were deemed too costly (Historic England). From there on,...

Posted by Isaac Swanson on Sunday, April 19, 2020 - 01:54

Where else in London is there to shop on a warm afternoon other than on Oxford Street itself. Home to around three hundred different shops, Oxford Street is a bustling street heavy with foot traffic of people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. Before this street was used for commercial use for the public and shops, this street was used for public hangings and other forms of execution. Once the street was reformed into a road with revenue, it began to attract all sorts of characters: prostitutes, beggars and traders. The street eventually became a hive of businesses and consumers. 

Today, Oxford Street still is used for consumer businesses; mostly businesses that are more modern, but there are still older trading houses that date back to the early 1900's. Also more modern engineering: such as more lights at night, more cars, cleaner street, etc.

Oxford Street 1920: ...

Posted by Julia Fessenden on Saturday, April 18, 2020 - 13:49

In the 1600s, the history of Bond Street started with just one mansion, built by the Earl of Clarendon. He sold the property (and what was left of the house after the Great Fire), and three people set about to make it a successful housing district. However, they went for the more profitable approach--renting out smaller properties on a constructed road. They managed to do that, and the original Bond Street (referred to now as "Old Bond Street") was created. By 1720, Bond Street connected Piccadilly and Oxford Street. Expensive shops began to be frequented by expensive people to show how notable and important and beautiful they were. A notable man in the 1800s, named Beau Brummell spent eight hundred pounds a year on clothing, much of it on Bond Street. Sotheby's came to Bond Street in 1917. In short, Bond Street has been (and continues to be, as will be discussed in the next paragraph) the place that all fashionable people shopped for hundreds of years...

Posted by Cherie Langenbacher on Saturday, April 18, 2020 - 01:46

Cherie' Langenbacher

Westminster has many historical attractions, including Big Ben and the House of Parliament.  These attractions bring about 1.5 million tourists per year.  Many of these people leave adoring the sites they saw, some of these amazing sites are the National Gallery, Churchill War Rooms, and Parliament Square. Westminster lies west of the city of London and is one of the 32 boroughs in London.  The southern edge of Westminster is along the Thames River. 

Although living in Westminster or visiting it looks amazing, it wasn't always like this. During WWI, there were many laws passed that made Westminster a nightmare in some ways. One of them, DORA, a law passed in August of 1914. DORA allowed the government to prosecute whoever made an action that would ruin the operations of His Majesty’s forces.  On top of this, there were even more ridicules laws including that whistling wasn’t allowed.  This was so nobody misheard...

Posted by Rylee Crawford on Friday, April 17, 2020 - 21:59

1920’s: At the beginning of the 1700’s, London was growing immensely with the start of the Industrial Revolution. The area that Harley street became a part of, Marylebone Village, benefited significantly with the era’s growing wealth. The area was becoming filled with huge, prestige houses. The largest home was called the Tyburn estate and was eventually owned by Edward Harley through a series of marriages. Harley noted there was a need for fashionable housing in the area and commissioned a grid system of streets. They named one of the many streets after the family name, thus Harley Street becoming an actual street. By the 1800’s, Harley Street became extremely popular with doctors. It was a central location, which made it easily accessible to public transport. The prestige air wafting through the area drew most doctors to relocate to the street, as well. The houses on the street were large enough for the doctors to reside there and use them as...

Posted by Laura Rotunno on Friday, April 17, 2020 - 10:21