7AAEM744 – PAGANS AND CHRISTIANS IN NINETEENTH CENTURY BRITAIN Module Code: Level/Semester taught: Convenor/Teacher: Teaching Arrangements: Credit Value: Assessment: Formative, unassessed work:
7AAEM744 Level 7 (MA module), taught in semester 1 Brian Murray 2-hour seminar weekly 20 credits 1000-word ‘field report’, worth 15% of final mark 3000-word essay, worth 85% of final mark Seminar presentation
Heathens, Hebrews, Hellenes, martyrs, evangelists, atheists, and imperialists. The Victorians were preoccupied with the radical reinvention of ideas and identities drawn from the ancient world. Throughout the nineteenth-century, British writers, artists and thinkers constructed their own sense of modernity through a passionate engagement with classical and biblical antiquity. These encounters were facilitated by new disciplines and new technologies. But in a predominantly Christian culture, the classical world was still viewed through the lens of the ancient Mediterranean’s most enduring cultural product: the Bible. Accounts of the emergence of primitive Christianity from the ruins of a decadent Roman Empire had a particular immediacy amidst the moral and political uncertainties of the expanding British Empire. Poets and dramatists continued to fetishize classical forms, while novels, poems and tracts on religious themes sold in the millions. But there was no simple opposition between classicizing aesthetes and reactionary religious conservatives. Even artists, scholars, and critics who rejected conventional Christian faith (from Matthew Arnold and George Eliot, to J.M.W. Turner and William Holman Hunt) worked actively to synthesize ‘Hellenic’ and ‘Hebraic’ influences. If the Gospels were written in Greek, were these texts not also the product of classical civilization? If all languages and religions had ultimately derived from ‘the East’, perhaps the original source of spiritual and ethical truth still lay concealed in the art and literature of the ‘Orient’? This module aims to open up ‘the Victorians’ to a much broader global and historical context, while also exploring these issues through specifically local material and visual contexts. Students will read widely in the literature of the period, exploring Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian themes in novels, poetry, music, philosophy and historical writing. But the schedule will also include a guided walk around the sacred and secular remains of nineteenth century London. In addition, students will be asked to prepare for specific sessions by visiting Tate Britain and Victoria & Albert Museums. We will thus take a hands-on approach to the material and visual contexts that shaped the Victorians’ contested image of antiquity.
Core Primary Reading (to be purchased, borrowed or downloaded as ebooks) George Eliot, Romola (1863) Charles Kinsgley, Hypatia: Or New Foes with an Old Face (1853) Walter Pater, Marius the Epicurean (1885) Oscar Wilde, De Profundis (1897) Additional extracts and poems (as specified in the course outline) will be provided via KEATS
Course Outline 1. Introduction: Decadent Pagans and Primitive Christians Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [Extracts] T.B. Macaulay, The Lays of Ancient Rome [Extracts] 2. Gods and Prophets Thomas Carlyle, On Hero Worship [extracts] Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy [extracts] 3. The Bible and its Critics: Contesting Authority George Eliot, ‘Evangelical Teaching’; extracts from Eliot’s trans. of D.F. Strauss, The Life of Jesus Matthew Arnold, ‘Pagan and Medieval Religious Sentiment’, ’Marcus Aurelius’ Benjamin Jowett, ‘On the Interpretation of Scripture’ Robert Browning, selected poems 4. Sectarian Visions of Antiquity Charles Kinsgley, Hypatia: Or New Foes with an Old Face John Henry Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua [extracts], selected poems 5. Grecians, Goths and Heathens in Victorian London (Visual and Material Contexts I) [Guided walk through Westminster and the City of London] A.W.N. Pugin, Contrasts [illustrations] John Ruskin, ‘The Lamp of Sacrifice’, The Stones of Venice [extracts]. William Booth, In Darkest England (1891) [extract] 6. READING WEEK 7. Desiring the Past: Modern Saints George Eliot, Romola Josephine Butler, Catherine of Siena [extracts] 8. Domestic Devotions and Household Gods (Visual and Material Contexts II) Christina Rossetti, selected poems John Keble, The Christian Year [extracts] 9. Queer Pagans Walter Pater, Marius the Epicurean; Greek Studies [extracts] Michael Field, Sight and Song (1892) 10. Your own Personal Jesus Oscar Wilde, De Profundis Ernest Renan, Life of Jesus [extracts] Gerard Manley Hopkins, selected poems 11. Re-Orienting belief Rudyard Kipling, ‘The Man who would be King’, selected poems Kesub Chunder Sen, Jesus Christ: Europe and Asia F. Max Müller, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by the Religions of India [extract]
Selected further reading David Alderson, Mansex Fine: Religion, Manliness and Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century British Culture (Manchester: Manchester UP, 1995) Gareth Atkins (ed.), Making and Re-Making Saints in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Manchester: MUP, 2016) James Eli Adams, Dandies and Desert Saints: Styles of Victorian Masculinity (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995) Kirstie Blair, Form and Faith in Victorian Poetry and Religion (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012) Simon Dentith, Epic and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006 Simon Goldhill, Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011) Boyd Hilton, Age of Atonement: The Influence of Evangelicalism on Social and Economic Thought, 1785-1865 (Oxford: OUP, 1986). Dominic Janes, Victorian Reformation: the Fight over Idolatry in the Church of England, 1840-1860 (Oxford: OUP, 2009) Richard Jenkyns, The Victorians and Ancient Greece (Oxford: Blackwell, 1980) Mark Knight and Emma Mason, Nineteenth-Century Religion and Literature: An Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2007) Timothy Larsen, A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians (Oxford: OUP, 2010) Deborah Lutz, Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge: CUP, 2015) Coleen Macdanell, Material Christianity (New Haven: Yale UP, 1995) Kate Nichols, Greece and Rome and the Crystal Palace: Classical Sculpture and Modern Britain, 1854-1936 (Oxford: OUP, 2015) Jan-Melissa Schramm, Atonement and Self-Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century Narrative (Cambridge: CUP, 2012) Rebecca Styler, Literary Theology by Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century (Farnham, Ashgate, 2010) Frank Turner, The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain (New Haven: Yale UP, 1984) Norman Vance, The Victorians and Ancient Rome (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997) Norman Vance, The Sinews of the Spirit: The Ideal of Christian Manliness in Victorian Literature and Religious Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995) Michael Wheeler, The Old Enemies: Catholic and Protestant in Nineteenth-Century English Culture (Oxford: OUP, 2011)