The Writings of George Eliot

Module code: EN3166

Module co-ordinator: Professor Gail Marshall

The aim of this module is to introduce students to some of the major novels of George Eliot, and to read these texts alongside a selection of Eliot's critical writings, poems, and letters, and her short story, 'The Lifted Veil'. Texts will be studied in the light of Eliot's participation in the political, cultural, and scientific developments of her time and of her own contribution to those discourses.

Some of the major concerns articulated by the texts we will examine are representations of city and country, industrialisation, female desire and sexuality, the figure of the artist, notions of responsibility and community, humanism and religion, and the importance of memory and the past. 

This module will combine the close study of individual texts with consideration of the broader issues of how Eliot's work contributes to the development of the Victorian novel, and how she negotiated her cultural position as both a woman and a leading novelist and intellectual. 

Texts to be studied will include:

  • Scenes of Clerical Life
  • Adam Bede
  • The Mill on the Floss
  • Felix Holt
  • Middlemarch
  • 'The Lifted Veil'
  • Selected critical essays and poems by Eliot


In weekly seminars, we will study Eliot's writings chronologically in order to track her development as both a creative and critical writer. Individual presentations will provide students with the opportunity to develop their own interests and to begin to prepare for their assessment essay.

By the end of this module students will...

  • Have a detailed knowledge of some of the major writings of George Eliot, and of her cultural, political, and intellectual contexts
  • Be able to comment authoritatively on Eliot's development as a writer and on the form of her work
  • Have acquired an in-depth appreciation of contemporary critical work on Eliot
  • Be able to write confidently and knowledgeably about the works of the Victorian period's leading authors


  • One 5,000-word essay