Saints or sinners: the representation of women in Victorian art and fiction
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The conventional view of women cherished by many Victorians saw them as angels in the house, presiding over hearth and family. ‘Fallen women’ – and these could be girls driven to prostitution through poverty, innocents seduced by a false promise of marriage or kept mistresses – might inspire the philanthropy of Baroness Burdett-Coutts and Dickens, but respectable middle-class families ignored their existence.
However, the image of the ideal never corresponded to the reality even in apparently stable families, as more and more respectable middle-class females looked for fulfilment beyond marriage and motherhood, for education, for work that paid. This course investigates the ways in which fiction and art reflected these concerns, and considers how the idealized images of Victorian women contrast with more realistic and challenging depictions.
- 20 February: Introduction: woman as scapegoat in Victorian middle-class ideology (Ulrike Horstmann-Guthrie)
- 27 February: Eliot's Middlemarch: can a woman find fulfilment? (Ulrike Horstmann-Guthrie)
- 5 March: Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles: "a pure woman"? (Ulrike Horstmann-Guthrie)
- 12 March: Madonnas and monsters: the idea of a woman in Victorian art (Dr Ann Kennedy Smith)
- 19 March: Women at work: representing the reality of being a woman in Victorian times (Dr Ann Kennedy Smith)
This course will be supported by our e-learning centre, ICE Online. You will be able to download course material, contact your tutor and talk to fellow students via the web at a time and place that’s convenient to you.
Visit the ICE Online introductory website to find out more.
Unless otherwise stated, teaching and assessment for ICE courses is in English. Students for whom English is not their first language should refer to the Competence in the English Language Policy for further guidance.
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20 February 2012 (14:00)
19 March 2012 (16:00)
Institute of Continuing Education
University of Cambridge
Madingley Hall, Madingley
Qualifications / Credits