Visual Culture in Victorian England
Art History 3009-001
Falvey 105, T., Th. 1-2:15
Dr. RuthAnn McNamara
Dr. Seth Koven
|Dr. Seth Koven
Office Hours: T, 11-12; Th. 10-11
and by appointment
This syllabus will be updated throughout the semester and is hyperlinked. Students should bookmark this hyperlink for ready access to it. http://www47.homepage.villanova.edu/seth.koven/Victorian%20Visual.htm
This team-taught interdisciplinary class examines the culture of Victorian Britain through close study of visual images ranging across a variety of genres (portraiture, landscape painting, etc), from oil paintings to photographs to cartoons from the periodical press. The class will combine formal analysis of the images with study of the various historical contexts that then – and now – continue to inform and shape their meanings. Just as we seek to recover how Victorians responded to and used these images, so too we aim to impart in students both the knowledge and skills needed to enjoy and understand these images as social products and aesthetic objects. Thus we seek to elucidate the ways in which these images functioned as visual narratives, moral guides, expressions of and vehicles for transforming social and cultural values, objects of desire, bearers of economic and cultural capital. We encourage students to develop skills as readers of written and visual texts and to see the ways in which these various ways of reading complement each other.
Readings will include extensive primary source materials as well as selected secondary sources drawn from art history, history, literature and gender studies.
Course Requirements and Expectations
Because this class encourages participation and builds upon students’ insights to generate our collective intellectual agenda, class attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to complete readings in advance of class and be prepared to ask and answers questions, offer criticisms, and apply the knowledge they have gained from readings/lectures to the texts and images we are studying. Students are expected to engage with one another and with the faculty in a way that demonstrates mutual respect for one another’s ideas. This sometimes entails learning to disagree with one another and to build on the comments of other members of the class.
Students must select one visual text about which they will write a ten (10) double spaced research paper. This paper will draw on at least six published sources – three secondary sources and three primary sources. Students will be expected to submit an initial proposal, preliminary bibliography, etc. at dates to be announced in class.
Students will be expected to hand in one page response essays and other short assignments.
Each week a student will circulate a list of terms collected from the previous week using the class distribution list: Spr04-AAHfirstname.lastname@example.org AND Spr04-HISemail@example.com
Students must regularly check their emails and the syllabus for information about the course.
There will be two (2) in-class one hour examinations and a final examination.
Late papers will drop one half grade for every day they are late.
There will be no make-up examinations.
Cheating will not be tolerated and will be dealt with according to the procedures outlined in the student handbook.
Readings: Students may purchase and read Eric Evans, The Forging of the Modern State, Early Industrial Britain. This textbook provides superb timelines and an unbroken chronological narrative of political, economic and social developments in 19th century Britain. It also provides astute and concise summaries of significant scholarly debates interpreting major issues in Victorian history. This text is intended to supplement lectures and discussions but will not itself provide the basis for any class periods. All other readings for this course will be available in three different formats. A substantial number of readings are available at no cost through hyperlinked websites. Students must download, print, read and bring to class these materials. Because the server at Villanova can be unreliable, we urge students to plan in advance and print out materials for future use. Each instructor will also assemble a course pack of photocopied materials for students to purchase. Finally, several readings are available on course-reserve in Falvey Library.
First Hour Examination: February 17
Second Hour Examination: March 23
Final Paper Due: April 20
Class Preparation, Participation, Short Assignments: 25%
Hour Examinations: 25%
Final Examination: 25%
Final Paper: 25%
Note: Class participation consists of several components: attendance, preparation, quality and regularity of contributions to discussion. Unexcused absences from class will result in a lower overall grade for the course. Five unexcused absences constitutes an automatic failure of the course.
Calendar of Topics/Texts
Note: Each topic centers on a handful of visual images that we will then supplement with a range of other visual and written texts. Depending on the interests of students, we may add new topics and omit others.
Topic One The Paradoxes of Early Victorian Britain: Landed Society and Industrial Capitalism
Visual Texts: Constable, The Haywain (1821); Turner, The Fighting Temeraire (1839) and Rain, Steam and Speed (The Great Western Railroad) (1845); Slavers Throwing the Dead and Dying Overboard with a Typhoon Coming On (1840); detail of Slavers
An Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies; for
promoting the Industry of the
manumitted Slaves; and for compensating the Persons hitherto entitled to the Services of such Slaves. (28 August 1833)
An Act for the Suppression of the Slave Trade (1839)
Topic Two Representing High Politics: The Great Reform Bill
Visual Texts: John Doyle, Political Cartoons (1831) in Rare Book Room, Falvey Library
Reading: Lord John Russell on Reform; Duke of Wellington, Document One and Document Two on Reform; Bristol Reform Act Riots; Macaulay on Reform; Lord Palmerston on Parliamentary Reform;
Topic Three Ruins and Romanticism: Images of Empire
Visual Text: Horace H. Wilson: Rajastan, Ruins at Deig (1841); Constable, Hadleigh Castle
Reading: “Constable’s Hadleigh Castle and British Romantic Painting,” Art Bulletin, Vol. 65, No. 3, Sept. 1983, pp.455-470. (JSTOR)
Macaulay on Education and Empire in India
William Jones, Selected Poems and Writings
Benjamin Disraeli, Sybil, Or the Two Nations, Book Two, Chapter Five (1845)
Images of the Sublime: Turner, Calais Pier; Burning of the Houses of Parliament
Topic Four Art and Commodity Culture: Exposing the Great Exhibition
Visual Texts: Selected Images of Great Exhibition: Exterior and Interior Views; Political Cartoons; Floor Plans
Reading: Carol Breckinridge, "The Aesthetics and Politics of Collecting: India at World Fairs", Comparative Studies in Society and History (1989), esp. pp.200-207.
George Clayton, Sermons on the Great Exhibition
Images of the Great Exhibition (peruse, no need to print out)
Submit one paragraph proposal for Final Paper
Topic Five Sin and Salvation
Visual Texts: Holman Hunt, Awakening Conscience (1853) and Light of the World (1851-3)
additional images used in lecture: John Everett Millais, Isabella; Abraham Solomon, First Class, the Meeting, (revised version, 1855); original version; Edward Landseer, Monarch of the Glen (1851); Julia Cameron's photographic portrait of Holman Hunt in Arab garb; Elizabeth Siddal, The Lady of Shalott, 1853
Sources of the Awakening Conscience: the Arnolfini Wedding
Light of the World as icon of Keble College, Oxford
Reading: Hancher, Michael. “Hunt’s Awakening Conscience.” Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, 1995, vol. 4, pp. 27-49
Grieve, Alistair. “The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Anglican High Church.” Burlington Magazine, Vol.III, No. 794, (May 1969), pp.292-295.
Selections from The Germ (1850): D.G. Rossetti, "Hand and Soul" and Alexander Tupper, "The Subject in Art," Part One and Part Two
Topic Six Photographic Realities? Art, Science, and Social Science
Examples of Fox Talbot's Calotypes
Images from the Munby Archive: contrasting images of Hannah Munby; Hannah scrubbing the front steps
Oscar Rejlander, Two Ways of Life, 1857; Selected photographs
Lewis Carroll, Alice as a Young Beggar (1859)
Julia Margaret Cameron, The Anniversary, 1865; Darwin; King Arthur Lying Wounded; The Echo, 1868; Faith
See Cameron's illustrations of Tennyson's Idylls of the King
Thomas John Barnardo, Out of the Depths, 1875; Once a Little Vagrant (1875)
Thomas Annan, Glasgow Close (1878)
John Thomson, Black Jack, The Crawlers and Workers on the Silent Highway from Street Life in London (1877)
Royal Photographic Society: enjoy this amazing website that introduces the history of photography in 19th century Britain and includes individual photographers as well as information about photographic processes and themes.
Henry Snelling, The History and Practice of the Art of Photography (1849), ch. 1, "A Brief History of of the Art"
Julia Margaret Cameron's Autobiography, selection
Excerpt from 1839 Bill from French Minster of Interior proposing pension for Daguerre and Niecpe; Fox Talbot, The Pencil of Nature (1844), excerpt (hand out in class)
Arthur Munby, "The Serving Maid"
Topic Seven Representing Liberal Manhood
Visual Text: John Everett Millais, Gladstone
Other images of Gladstone: The Grand Old Man Chopping Wood (1877), carbon cabinet print, Photograph byWilliam Curry; commemorative print of Gladstone's career; 3/4 view
Other portraits used by way of contrast and comparison: Matthew Arnold
Millais's portraits of politicians: Disraeli
Reading: Selected speeches of W.E. Gladstone: Gladstone on his first administration (1871); Gladstone on Ireland, (1886); Karl Marx on Gladstone's Irish Policy (1869)
Topic Eight Faith and Doubt
Visual Texts: Watts, Sower of Systems; Millais, Christ in the House of his Parents (1849)
Reading: Morris, Edward. “The Subject of Millais’s Christ in the House of His Parents,’” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 33 (1970) pp.343-345 (JSTOR)
Essays and Reviews (1860); Frank Turner: Religion versus Science; Debating Darwin; Tennyson, In Memoriam
Submit Bibliography of six published sources (3 primary, 3 secondary)
Topic Nine Odd Man Out: James McNeill Whistler
Visual Texts: The Peacock Room; Nocturnes: Blue and Gold, the Rocket; The Little White Girl; The White Girl; Westminster Bridge; The Balcony
Reading: Spencer, Robin, “Whistler’s ‘The White Girl’: Painting, Poetry and Meaning,” Burlington Magazine, Vol. 140, No1142 (May 1998), pp.300-311. (JSTOR)
“Color and tone in Whistler’s ‘nocturnes’ and ‘harmonies,’1871-1872. Burlington Magazine, Vol. 136, No. 1099, (Oct. 1994) pp.695-699.
Topic Ten Art, Artists, and the Social Question
Visual Texts: Luke Fildes, Applicants for Admission to the Casual Ward; William Powell Frith, Poverty and Wealth; Hubert Von Herkomer, On Strike ; Hard Times; Frederick Walker, The Vagrants
Architectural plans: Sampson Kempthorne, architect, Workhouse, 1835
Topic Eleven Art, Socialism, and Interior Design
Visual Texts: William Morris, Liberty Prints; C.R. Ashbee, craft objects
Reading: Selections from John Ruskin and William Morris
Walter Crane; William Morris, Arts and Crafts
Topic Twelve The (In)Discreet Charms of the Bourgeoisie
Visual Texts: James Tissot, selected oil paintings; selected advertisements of consumer goods from contemporary print media
Reading: Coventry Patmore, Angel in the House
Topic Thirteen Decadence
Visual Texts: Mort d'Arthur (woodcut);
Reading: “Aubrey Beardsley’s Salome: the daughter of too many mothers’ sons.” Rutgers-Arts-Review 2001, Vol. 19, pp.25-36.
Reading: Walter Pater, “Preface” and “Leonardo da Vinci” from The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry ;
Oscar Wilde, The Artist as Critic; Edward Carpenter, The Intermediate Sex, selected chapter.
Images analyzed by students: Ford Maddox Brown, Work; Whistler, Nocturne in Blue and Gold, St. Mark's; Beardsley, Salome, the Climax, first version, second version.