The Brontes

Module code: EN7128

Module co-ordinator: Dr Julian North

This module offers you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the fiction of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë. You will extend your knowledge and understanding of the Brontës by thinking about their work analytically and critically in relation to the literary and historical contexts within which the sisters wrote and were received. You will be encouraged to pay attention to the differences between their writing as well as to their common ground, and to situate the novels in relation to women's fiction of the period, issues of genre (for example, Gothic and realism), and thematic issues such as marriage, gender and sexuality, education, work, and religion. We will also consider the power of the 'Brontë myth' in relation to biography, the heritage industry, and criticism of the novels.


In our weekly seminars we will focus our discussion on Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. There will also be opportunities to talk about the Brontë juvenilia and any other aspect of the Brontës' work you are interested in.


  • One 4,000-word essay. Suggested essay questions will be handed out at the beginning of the semester. In the essay you will be able to focus on the area of the Brontës' work that most appeals to you, through detailed commentary on a minimum of two works of fiction. In addition, you will have the opportunity to give an unassessed seminar presentation, which may, if you wish, be developed within your assessed essay. Towards the end of the module, I will offer an additional twenty-minute, one-to-one meeting with each student to help with the essay, and will be available for consultation by email after the module has ended, when you are writing your essay.