Fall 2020

Victorian Sensations, or, When Old Media Were New

Listed in: English, as ENGL-375  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-317

Moodle site: Course


Lise Shapiro Sanders (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 375 and FAMS 317) Ghosts, vampires, madwomen, and typists: what do these figures have in common? In this course, we will investigate the characters and events that made the Victorian period the age of sensation, from the rise of popular fiction and the illustrated newspaper to the introduction of new methods for viewing and experiencing the world on a global scale. The course will focus on nineteenth-century Britain, exploring the ways in which Victorian fiction, poetry, and print and visual media give voice to the period’s obsession with sensory experience. We will read Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, a tale of deception, mistaken identity and madness, alongside works by Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Bram Stoker, among others. Historians of “old” media–including telegraphy, photography, and early cinema–will assist us in exploring new technologies for communication in the nineteenth century, while media archaeologists and theorists of ephemerality, memory, and the archive will deepen our understanding of the relationship between past and present media cultures. Three formal essays will be required: a literary close reading (3-4 pages); a critical explication of a scholarly article (4-5 pages); and a final research project (a 10-12 page paper or a digital humanities project of similar length and scope).

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to ENGL and FAMS majors.


Attention to Research, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020