19th Century British Literature | Department of English | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

19th Century British Literature

The program in nineteenth-century British literature at SIU Carbondale embraces a wide range of scholarly and critical approaches: literary history, critical theory, gender studies, and cultural contextualization.


In addition to the Core survey courses in English literature, which introduce undergraduates to the most important works from the nineteenth century, we regularly schedule upper-level courses in Romantic and Victorian poetry and prose. These include "English Romantic Literature" (Blake, Dorothy and William Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley, Keats, and less well-known writers of the era); "Victorian Poetry" (Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, Arnold, Fitzgerald, Clough, the Pre-Raphaelites, Kipling, and Hopkins); "Nineteenth-Century English Fiction" (the Brontës, Thackeray, George Eliot, Dickens, Trollope, Gaskell, and others); and "Irish Literature Survey," which has a large nineteenth-century component. All courses in nineteenth-century British literature are scheduled so that undergraduates who wish to explore the period's variety of literary forms and interests will have ample opportunity to do so.

Special Topics Courses

Recent special topics courses have included "Art and Science in the English Romantic Era," an interdisciplinary course on the relations of literature, science, and painting in the era of Wordsworth, Constable, and Turner, and "Blake's 'Songs' and Wordsworth's 'Lyrical Ballads'." special topics courses offered by faculty in other areas of the English department may also include nineteenth-century writers.


In addition to undergraduate and special topics courses, faculty in nineteenth-century British literature regularly schedule a range of graduate seminars which emphasize close, scholarly study of specialized areas. Each spring term such a seminar is offered (alternately) in Romantic and Victorian literature. 

Recent topics include Professor Collins's "Inscriptions of Reading in Nineteenth-Century Fiction" (the treatment of books and reading from Jane Austen's Emma to Hardy's Jude the Obscure), as well as seminars devoted exclusively to George Eliot, to the Brontës, and to "Jane Austen and the Victorians"; 

Professor McEathron's "Nature in Romantic Literature" (the work of Wordsworth, Shelley, and Clare alongside that of British peasant poets); and Professor McEathron's current "Wordsworth and Coleridge" (a comparative study of their poetic careers). 

Certain seminars embrace writers from both eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century Britain (Professor Chandler's recent seminars in the Gothic novel and the Sensibility movement) or from both nineteenth-century America and nineteenth-century England (Professor Anthony's recent seminar in the Gothic). SIUC's program in Irish and Irish Immigration Studies also includes seminars which focus upon nineteenth-century literature.

Recent Ph.D. Dissertations

  • Timothy Ziegenhagen, "Reading the Book of Nature: Romantic Literature and Romantic Science from Wordsworth to De Quincey."
  • Kenneth R. Cervelli, "The Illuminated Earth: Dorothy Wordsworth and Ecology" (published in 2007 by Routledge as Dorothy Wordsworth's Ecology)
  • Heidi J. Snow, "The Impact of Contemporary Theological Attitudes towards Poverty on William Wordsworth's Writing"
  • Douglas R. Moore, "Appropriating Justice: Victorian Literature and Nineteenth-Century Law Reform"

Recent M.A. Theses

  • Emily Marie Tuttle, "Beloved Sufferers and Mad Girls: Idealized Femininity and Exemplary Suffering in the Fiction of Mary Shelley"
  • Kurtis Hessel, "'Both remedy and health': The Form of Disease in Coleridge's Criticism and Notebooks"
  • Lauren Kiehna, "Dangerous Indulgences: Purposeful Female Illnesses in Nineteenth-Century Women's Fiction"
  • Duygu Kilic, "Domestic and Public Spectacles: Feminization of the French Revolution in Charlotte Smith's 'Desmond' and Helen Maria Williams's 'Letters from France'"
  • Bita Zakeri, "Echoes of Scheherazade's Voice in England: The Influence of the 'One Thousand and One Nights' in the Works of Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, and Mary Hays"
  • Amy Lanham, "A Woman's World: The Bronte Sisters, Branwell's Illness, and the Fictive Cure"
  • Brian Norberg, "Constable, Wordsworth, and the Narration of Timeless Vision in the Industrial Landscape"