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ENG 435 Victorian Lives and Afterlives (Topics in Literature): Home

Online Reference Books


Cambridge History of English and American Literature

A comprehensive encyclopedia of English and American literature derived from individual print editions of The Cambridge History of English literature and The Cambridge History of American literature, published between 1907 and 1921. Vol. XIII Covers Victorian literature.

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Elizabeth Parang's picture
Elizabeth Parang
Pepperdine University Libraries
24255 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90263

Course Description

Throughout the long nineteenth century and into the twentieth, challenges to received beliefs, and the growing influence of the sciences of man – anthropology, sociology, psychology – compelled Victorian men and women to defend, redefine, and reconsider the nature of human identity. Increasingly they were forced to address new questions, about the meaning of the past, the idea of the good life, and the possibility of life after death. Some writers sought to find meaning and value in an ever more secular world; others reached out to alternative spiritualities, turning to the philosophies of the east or to ancient belief systems. The tension between these two positions, the one focused on the present, the other looking to an ‘afterlife’, however broadly defined, would change the way writers came to understand themselves, the role and power of literature, and their legacy to the future.