Romantics to Victorians: Literature 1789-1870

Module code: EN3020

Module co-ordinator: Professor Philip Shaw

In this module you will study in detail two interlocking literary movements that span the years 1789 to 1870, from the beginnings of Romanticism through the mid-Victorian period. Although the module is structured around the work of twelve representative writers (see lists below), we will more broadly discuss the advanced study of major literary texts and ways of contextualising them both historically and critically. 

While the novel is well represented on this module, the emphasis on poetry, particularly the poetry of the Romantic movement, will increase your awareness of this important genre. We will focus in particular on the relationship between the Enlightenment and the Romantic movement, the transition from Romanticism to Victorianism, and the rise of Modernism.

Topics covered

  • Development of 19th century realism
  • Relationship between major novelists and the new mass audience for literature
  • Emergence of the professional woman writer
  • Legacy of the Romantics as manifested in Victorian poetry
  • How religious doubt and residual religious faith used this legacy

Romantic writers: Blake, Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Austen

Victorian writers: Dickens, George Eliot, Tennyson, Rossetti 


  • 20 one-hour lectures
  • 10 one-hour seminars


  • Exam, 3 hours (100%)