Spring 2019 - ENGL 434W E100

Topics in the Victorian Period (4)

Class Number: 1673

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 6:30 PM – 10:20 PM
    HCC 2235, Vancouver

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 24, 2019
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
    HCC 2540, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 300 division English courses. Strongly recommend: ENGL 327 or 330. Reserved for English honors, major, joint major and minor students.



Examines issues in Victorian literature and culture in a variety of genres and media from diverse geopolitical regions organized by various critical questions and approaches. Students with credit for ENGL 434 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


The Victorians and their Money

What can forms of art tell us about money? I’m sure you can think of examples from contemporary pop culture where money is the subject of the day (insert Rihanna gif here). What might surprise you is that the Victorians were just as obsessed with money as we are, though they had very different ways of talking about it. In fact, “money” was a troublesome thing in the nineteenth century, not only because lots of people didn’t have it, but because understandings of wealth and value were changing rapidly in the period. It is in the nineteenth century that the modern discipline of economics was born, that Karl Marx raised the “spectre of communism” over Europe, that corporations become legal persons, and that regular people could invest in the stock market for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, these changes are reflected in fiction of the period. Money-grubbing scrooges, ruined investors, and unsuspecting heiresses are all stock characters of the Victorian novel. However, the relationship worked in the other direction, too: literary devices like metaphor and plot were essential to the formation of ideas and theories that still influence the way we think about money today. In this course, we’ll study the intersection of the Victorian novel and economic thought: what problems and opportunities could writers of fiction see that theorists could not? How did the medium of the novel bring women’s insights into the conversation—and what was unique about those insights? Reading excerpts from Victorian theorists and pundits alongside some of the period’s most well known works of fiction, we’ll explore representations of domestic, social, and sexual economies, serious questions about the nature of the free market individual, scathing critiques of finance, and haunting depictions of Malthusian crisis.


This course is writing intensive: students can expect to develop their ability to synthesize, analyze, and criticize text through written assignments of varied length and design. We’ll get plenty of practice reading, too, and using library resources, developing our ability to find, evaluate, and understand information in a variety of formats. Respectful participation in group discussion is an expectation and a skill you'll use no matter where your future takes you.


  • Close Reading assignment [500 words] 10%
  • Article Summary assignment [500 words] 10%
  • Presentation [15 min] 20%
  • Final Essay draft [8 pages] 15%
  • Final Essay [10 pages] 30%
  • Seminar Participation 15%



Our primary texts will be novels, available for purchase at the bookstore; all other readings will be posted to Canvas.


Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton (1848) [Broadview]
George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (1860) [Oxford]
Anthony Trollope, The Prime Minister (1876) [Oxford]
Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (1895) [Broadview]
*Additional readings will be available online.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html