- 13 January to 24 April 2020
- Paul Mellon Centre
What made the Victorian era “Victorian”? How did Queen Victoria shape the period of British history named for her; how was the British monarchy altered by this long-lived and strong-willed queen; and how was the queen in turn shaped by the era over which she reigned? To what extent was the queen’s image created by the popular figures of her that proliferated as new media arose across the period, and to what extent did she actively forge her own image? What were the queen’s powers as a female monarch who was a wife, a widow, and a mother, and how did she influence the roles of women in her day and after? What was the effect of her image as domestic monarch on British imperial rule at the height of Britain’s world power?
This course will address these questions by reading the queen’s own published literary work, Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands, and viewing some of the many photographs, paintings, sculptures and other works of art that were created under her patronage; and by reading and viewing an array of other Victorian “royal representations,” both verbal and visual.
Texts we will study include works by Victorian ideologues Sarah Ellis and John Ruskin; British works of fiction about queens and queenly figures including Lewis Carroll’s two Alice books and Margaret Oliphant’s delightful Miss Marjoribanks; and George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda. We will consider the queen’s representations in the U.S. and in her expanding empire, and we will trace her image up through the present day by viewing TV and films about her and museum installations created for the bicentennial of her birth in 1819. London remains an open-air museum of Victoria’s legacy; students will also have opportunities to do original archival research and to visit at least one of Victoria’s homes.