History 498C: Victorian Women
Prof. Jeffrey Auerbach
Fall 2002
Tuesdays, 4:20-6:50 p.m.
Sierra Hall 288

Description:  This course is intended to provide an introduction to the history of women in Victorian England.  Topics include the ideology of separate spheres, women’s work, marriage and motherhood, sexuality, the empire, education, and political activity.  We will discuss famous figures including Queen Victoria, Florence Nightingale, and Jack the Ripper, as well as a host of lesser-known men and women who had an impact on the lives of women in nineteenth-century Britain.  We will also explore the interaction of class and gender as we try to uncover cultural assumptions about Victorian women (both the Victorians' and our own).


Readings: Requirements: Course Policies: Class Meetings, Topics, and Readings:
August 27 Introduction: Stereotypes of Victorian Women
September 3 Religion and Middle-Class Domestic Ideology
  • Davidoff and Hall, Family Fortunes, 1-192
September 10 Industrialization and Economic Enterprise
  • Davidoff and Hall, Family Fortunes, 193-315
September 17 Public and Private Spheres
  • Davidoff and Hall, Family Fortunes, 317-454
  • John Ruskin, “Of Queens' Gardens,” in Sesame and Lilies (1865)
September 24 Marriage, Divorce, and the Law
  • Perkin, Victorian Women, pp. 51-131
  • Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, "A Brief Summary, in Plain Language, of the Most Important Laws Concerning Women" (1854) [handout]
October 1 The Governess I
  • Bronte, Jane Eyre (pp. 1-164; through chapter 16)
  • Perkin, Victorian Women, pp. 6-50
October 8 The Governess
  • Bronte, Jane Eyre (pp. 165-end)
October 15 Working-Class Women
  • Gaskell, Mary Barton (entire)
  • Perkin, Victorian Women pp. 169-201
October 22 Queen Victoria
  • Homans, Royal Representations: Queen Victoria and British Culture , pp. xix-72, 100-156, 229-244
October 29 Women in Art
November 5 Prostitution and Jack the Ripper
  • Perkin, Victorian Women, pp. 219-34
  • Judith Walkowitz, "Jack the Ripper," City of Dreadful Delight (1992) [handout]
November 12 Women and Empire
  • MacMillan, Women of the Raj
November 19 Independent Women and The “New Woman”
  • Perkin, Victorian Women, pp. 132-85
November 26 Victorian Feminism and the Origins of the Women's Movement
  • Caine, Victorian Feminists (entire)
December 3 Conclusion:  World War One and the End of Victorianism?
  • Perkin, Victorian Women, pp. 235-48