2008 MM The Figure of the Governess in Victorian Culture and 19th Century
- Time: Thursdays 10-12 am
This course will link the problematic figure of the governess in nineteenth-century culture to the numerous nineteenth-century fictions which takes governesses as their heroines. The governesses' precarious social position and their role as 'home educators' place them at the centre of unsolved issues in family structures, gender relations and gender differentiation in education. The course will thus introduce students to the main issues and developments in nineteenth-century education and nineteenth-century constructions of gender, and invite them to analyse the use which some of the major fictions of the nineteenth century make of this problematic figure. By the beginning of term, students should have purchased and read the following three novels.
- Anne Bronte, Agnes Grey, ed. R. Inglesfield and H. Marsden, Oxford World's Classics, Oxford University Press, 1998. (c. 6-7 EUR, see note below!)
- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, ed. Steve Davies, Penguin Classics, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2006. (c. 8-9 EUR)
- Henry James, The Aspern Papers AND The Turn of the Screw, ed. Anthony Curtis, Penguin Classics, London: Penguin, 1986. (c. 8 EUR)
Course Requirements for credits as a Master Module "English Literatures":
- Regular attendance and active participation (you may miss up to two meetings, whatever the reasons).
- An oral presentation of ca. 20 minutes that will form the basis for your subsequent term paper (you present information and develop an argument that must allow you to formulate research questions concerning a particular text and topic, which will then be discussed by the seminar).
- A term paper (generally dealing with one or several of the issues raised in your oral contribution; length ca. 20 pages; deadline September 1, 2008).
Requirements for candidates for the Staatsexamenklausur:
- Regular attendance and active participation.
- An oral presentation of ca. 20 minutes that will allow you to practice collecting, selecting and focusing information and textual analysis, as you will be asked to do in the written exam (you present information and develop an argument that must allow you to formulate research questions concerning a particular text and topic, which will then be discussed by the seminar).
Alternatively, you may join a group that produces short summaries of the seminar meetings which help you revise for the written exam.
NOTE: Depending on the focus of your contribution, you may take this course as "Brit Lit.wiss" or as "Brit.Cult.Stud.".
NOTE on availability of texts: Herr Janssen of CvO UniBuch informs me that Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey will take longer to order than the other two books. This, however, is the text which we will read first! Please make sure you order your copy early!
A look back at the governess in the 18th century. Issues around the 19th century governess.
The Governess as a Literary device: Mansfield: “The Little Governess”. Mansfield, Katherine. The Little Governess" (1915).
Education, class and gender in 19c England. (Governesses’ Social Status, their role in the education system, and in the history of the women’s movement.)
Realities and Romance in Agnes Grey. Referat: Kathrin Sindern
Two questions to think about:
1. The novel can be divided into two broad sections: the first half dealing with the situation of a governess and the second half dealing with the realtionship between Agnes and Mr. Weston. Please think about the presented reality in reqard to the question: In how far does the novel reflect the historic realtity and in how far does the novel subvert the historic situation of a governess?
2. Who does the novel address? Which readership might have been intended?
Narration and moral perspective in Agnes Grey.
Jane Eyre: The Outsider’s Point of View (Early Childhood, Lowood, Thornfield).
Jane Eyre: Gothic and Romance. Jane, Rochester and Rochester’s first wife.
Theoretical Angles on Jane Eyre: Feminist, homosocial or postcolonial perspectives.
The Turn of the Screw. The Story: the governess and the children; stages of their relationship. Referat: Katrin Hoppe
Turn of the Screw: The social setting and the wider network of relationships around the governess: Who else is concerned? Whom does she tell her story? Why does she tell her story?
Turn of the Screw: The wider communicative situation: The story, the frame narrative, and the context of publication. Course Evaluation. – Literary and cultural appropriations of the (19th century) goveness in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Course Evaluation. – Literary and cultural appropriations of the (19th century) governess in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Feedback on course Evaluation. – Presentation of Term Paper Topics, final discussion.