Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG454H1S L0101

ENG454H1S   L0101   M1-3
Advanced Studies Group 5: Bleak House: Victorian Forms of Knowledge
Instructor: Prof. A. Jaffe
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 910

Brief Description of Course:
Bleak House is one of Dickens’s most widely discussed novels, and also perhaps his strangest. Its concerns include a seemingly endless legal case and the status of the poor in Victorian London; it contains one of the period’s first detectives and a plot involving secrecy and sexual transgression. We will spend the semester reading the novel closely and attentively and discussing its many contexts and some of its most illuminating interpretations. And given this novel’s divided structure (between first-person and omniscient narrators), we will consider its staging of a separation between social, collective, or public knowledge, on the one hand, and individual, psychological, or “secret” knowledge on the other.

Required Reading: Dickens, Bleak House (Penguin edition); secondary readings TBA.

First Three Authors/Texts: TBA.

Method of Evaluation: Presentations and participation; midterm and term test; final essay including individual research on some aspect of the novel.

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