Victorian Literature, Technology, and Visual Culture

English 4485 — Advanced Studies in Victorian Literature: Literature, Technology, and Visual Culture

tube 150


A study of a selection of fiction of the second half of the nineteenth century forms the basis of our consideration of the social and literary significance of what we can loosely term “technological” developments in the period.  We will seek to examine how the advance of the railway, the telegraph, photography and print technologies at once occasioned vast changes in individuals’ experience of their world and coincided with monumental social transformations, which altered the understanding and negotiation of public and private space; labour and conceptions of class; gender relations; the relationship between identity, surveillance, and spectacle.


In doing so, we will also consider the form and function of these “technologies”: How did the railway change the natural and social landscape? What was the relationship between advertising and “the masses?” What had the development of photography to do with the discourse surrounding “criminality” and its detection? How did national and political agendas play a role in the development of these technologies? How and why did women become particularly connected to these developments? Secondary readings on these and related topics will thus supplement and enhance our study of the literature.

Tentative Texts

Charles Dickens             “The Signalman” (1866) and selections from Dombey and Son (1848)

Mary Elizabeth Braddon     Lady Audley’s Secret (1862)

Thomas Hardy                        A Laodicean (1881)

Arthur Conan Doyle            “A Scandal in Bohemia” (1891)

George Gissing                       In the Year of Jubilee (1897)

Bram Stoker                             Dracula (1897)

A course pack containing secondary readings and some of the shorter selections will also be made available.


Click here for more links to useful sites on Victorian technology.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s