Evolution and Entropy: Changing Representations of the Sciences in Victorian Literature

Module code: EN7124

It is increasingly recognised that the sciences formed a fundamental and integral part of Victorian culture, and that their growing importance was registered in a variety of literary forms. This module introduces students to this exciting area of interdisciplinary study by situating a variety of literary texts, including works by Dickens, Gaskell, Hardy, Wells, and Stoker, within the context of key nineteenth-century scientific debates. These include the nature of life, evolution, degeneration and entropy, and the occult. The course considers how the enormous scientific changes that took place during the period were represented in a multiplicity of different ways, and examines how nineteenth-century literature enacted the transition from the optimism of mid-Victorian science to the pessimism of later scientific enterprises. Assessment is by one 3,000 word essay.


  • 10 hours of seminars
  • 140 hours of guided independent study


  • Essay, 3,000 words (100%)