Women in Literature, Culture, and Society, 1850-1900

Module code: EN3138

Module co-ordinator: Dr Richa Dwor

In this module you will study the exciting range of writing by and about women in the second half of the 19th century. Texts covered will include novels, poetry, journalism, autobiography, drama and a range of political, medical and scientific treatises. 

We will explore a number of contentious contemporary issues, such as women and domesticity, the delights and dangers of the city, the place of the fallen woman in nineteenth-century society, medical and scientific definitions of woman, the professional woman writer, and feminist and anti-feminist debates. Visual representations will be used to illuminate textual material.

Topics covered

  • Elizabeth Gaskell: Ruth (1853)
  • Henry Mayhew: selections from London Labour and the London Poor (1861-1862); plus William Acton: selections from Prostitution Considered in its Moral, Social and Sanitary Aspects, in London and Other Large Cities, with Proposals for the Mitigation and Prevention of its Attendant Evils (1857) 
  • Mary Elizabeth Braddon: Lady Audley's Secret (1862) 
  • John Stuart Mill: The Subjection of Women (1869)
  • Selections from Susan Hamilton, ed.: 'Criminals, Idiots, Women, and Minors': Victorian Writing By Women On Women (2004)
  • Olive Schreiner: The Story of an African Farm (1883) 
  • Beatrice Webb: My Apprenticeship (1926)
  • George Gissing: The Odd Women (1893)
  • Mary Kingsley: Travels in West Africa (1897)
  • George Bernard Shaw: Mrs Warren's Profession (1898)




  • Essay, 5000 words (100%)