Other Victorians

This module will be concerned with a selection of difficult but fascinating Victorian texts which in various ways violate the dominant realist code of their day and thus explore the borderland between sense and non-sense, seriousness and laughter, centre and margin. In this respect, the texts are written by those whom, after Michel Foucault, we might call 'Other Victorians.' Indeed, a unifying theme or motif will be the philosophical notion of ‘the Other,’ as first formulated by Hegel at the beginning of the nineteenth century and subsequently reworked by such contemporary theorists as Levinas and Derrida. The module will explore how, in Victorian writing, otherness is staged and imagined in all sorts of ways – including, for example, place, religion, science, consciousness, the future, thought, matter, dimension, tears, boats, and the face. Given that the texts under discussion all, in one sense or another, challenge conventional or rationalist modes of realising the world and do so in ways that raise a number of philosophical questions, students will be encouraged to respond to the texts both imaginatively and philosophically.