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EN2C2-30 The English Nineteenth-Century Novel

English and Comparative Literary Studies
Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Michael Meeuwis
Credit value
Module duration
18 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

EN2C2-30 The English Nineteenth-Century Novel

Module web page

Module aims

This module aims to explore the rise of the novel as both a genre and a concept, and the ways in which it developed in the particular context of nineteenth-century Britain, responding to rapid social change and the corresponding shifting understandings of class, gender, sexuality, nation and culture. We shall consider how nineteenth-century readers and critics taxonomised the novel, and how they invested heavily in what they thought its purpose and formula should be. So too, we will consider the C19th novel outside its historical context, as subject to multiplicitous readings, defamiliarising the novel through critical lenses. The module traverses a range of various styles such as "social realism", "the bildungsroman", “sensationalism”, “historical novel”, “fantasy” and cover topics such as masculinity, the new woman, sexuality, childhood, landscapes, Empire, dialogues between image and text, evolution, and illness. Texts from the popular to the literary, from the canonical to those often overlooked post-1900, are explored. Writers may include Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Lewis Carroll, Charlotte Brontë, H. Rider Haggard, and William Thackeray.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

TERM 1: Realisms
In the first term we will firstly consider what the novel is and how, as a concept, it was bound up with ideas of literary and social realism.

TERM 2: “Other” Worlds
In the second term we will consider a variety of “other” literatures – popular, literary, canonical, obscure – that deal with subject matters that appear the antithesis to realism; so the Gothic and Sensational, detective fiction, and adventure. Yet, through an assessment of both contemporary and modern reception and critical approaches, we will interrogate the assumptions surrounding these genres, as well.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of prose-fiction in the context of its nineteenth-century historical, cultural, social, political, economic, religious, scientific and aesthetic context;
  • Demonstrate close-reading skills, skills in critical analysis, and the ability to take responsibility for individual reading and learning;
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of nineteenth century literary-works and their differing styles;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between nineteenth-century authors, readers, and critics, and how they helped shape ideas of the purpose and characteristics of the “English novel”.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some of the main critical lenses through which the core texts may be read (i.e. postcolonialism, new historicism, feminism, structuralism);
  • To develop written communication skills focused on theoretical and literary material, and the ability to effectively communicate information and arguments.
Subject specific skills

No subject specific skills defined for this module.

Transferable skills

No transferable skills defined for this module.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 5 sessions of 1 hour (2%)
Seminars 18 sessions of 1 hour 30 minutes (9%)
Private study 268 hours (89%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

Reading & research


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
1x 3000 word essay 50%
1 X 3000 word essay 50%
Feedback on assessment

Written feedback on assignments which will offer at least 3 suggestions for improvement and detail how their work corresponded with the marking criteria.
Optional individual meetings or email correspondence with students to discuss in more detail the specificities of the written feedback.


This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 2 of UENA-QP36 Undergraduate English Literature and Creative Writing

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 2 of UENA-Q300 Undergraduate English Literature
  • Year 2 of UENA-QP36 Undergraduate English Literature and Creative Writing
  • Year 2 of UENA-VQ32 Undergraduate English and History
  • Year 2 of UTHA-QW34 Undergraduate English and Theatre Studies
  • Year 2 of UFIA-QW25 Undergraduate Film and Literature

This module is Option list C for:

  • Year 2 of UCXA-QQ37 Undergraduate Classics and English

This module is Option list D for:

  • Year 2 of UPHA-VQ72 Undergraduate Philosophy and Literature