This module will explore the power of money in Victorian novels. We will see that literature can be read as a way of grasping and defining specific economic and social phenomena at a time when Great-Britain was nicknamed the workshop of the world. We will draw from Victorian economic and sociological theories as well as more recent theories to analyse excerpts from Dombey and Son (1848), Little Dorrit (1857) and Our Mutual Friend (1875) by Charles Dickens, Middlemarch (1874) by George Eliot, The Way We Live Now (1875) by Anthony Trollope and Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker. We will examine how economic facts and trends, as well as the behaviours they imply or bring about, feed into the very fabric and organisation of Victorian novels thus contributing to their meaning. We will study some of the positive sides of Victorian economic prosperity, such as industrialisation, commercial arcades or the building of railways, but we will also tackle some of the dark sides of this growth, namely reckless speculation, catastrophic financial crises, dismal poverty and social exclusion. This course will highlight what Victorian novels can bring to the understanding of economic issues such as these, and how they partake in the very process of defining and representing them.
- Teacher: Nathalie VANFASSE