The Victorian Age Through Poetry and Painting

Home/ The Victorian Age Through Poetry and Painting
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline CoreSUS1EN2604

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon 2019

Course Coordinator and Team: BhoomikaMeiling, Usha Mudiganti and Amit Singh

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: No pre-requisites

Aim: This course has a threefold objective-- to teach students how to appreciate the cultural output of the Victorian Age in forms other than literary viz. painting; how as post-colonial readers we can look at and compare different works of art as concealing or revealing concerns resonating with important critical issues of the day like racism, gender stereotypes and inequality, slave trade and poverty; and how artists and writers responded in the Victorian age to their cultural legacy and their politico-social background through movements such as the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Oxford Movement. On finishing the course, the student will have learnt the basics of Victorian poetry and have gained a general understanding of its nexus with Victorian painting. Through a comparative reading of different versions (in paint) of the same poem, one expects students to critically engage with and react to differences in perspective.

Course Outcomes: On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Identify key poets, painters, and literary movements of the Victorian era
  2. Understand and analyse the relationship between verbal and visual aesthetic mediums
  3. Identify and critically analyse various poetic forms (lyric, ode, sonnet), and figures of speech
  4. Contextualise the poems and paintings studied in the course within broader historical and cultural concerns of the Nineteenth Century
  5. Acquire awareness of and sensitivity towards issues of gender, sexuality, race, class, and ethnicity
  6. Use presentation and writing skills to formulate and communicate academic arguments
  7. Develop research skills by working with different assessment formats like term papers, book reports, oral presentations, and academic essays.


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

In this course, students would find an opportunity to understand the works of some reputed painters who influenced many writers through their paintings and defined the way we look at the Victorian Age today. The course would also seek to consolidate their knowledge of the Victorian canon of poetry and to introduce them to some poets from outside this canon. The course will be spread over 8 modules. In each module, a poem and a painting will be studied together.

Module 1: Alfred Tennyson

  1. “Lady of Shalott” with five painted versions by John William Waterhouse, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, Elizabeth Siddal, and Arthur Hughes.
  2.  “The Defense of Lucknow” with Thomas John Barker’s paintings ‘The Relief of Lucknow,’ (1859) and ‘The secret of England’s Greatness’ (undated)


Module 2: Robert Browning

  1. “Porphyria’s Lover” with D.G. Rossetti’s painting ‘Lady Lilith’


Module 3: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

  1. Book II, Aurora Leigh with Arthur Hughes’ painting ‘The Tryst’
  2. The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” with Robert Southey’s “Sonnet VI” and Joseph Mallord William Turner’s painting ‘The Slave Ship’ (1840)


Module 4: Dante Gabriel Rossetti

  1.  “Little Lilith” with his own painting with the same name.
  2.  “The Blessed Damozel” with his painting with the same name painted between 1875 and 1878.


Module 5: Richard Dadd

  1. ‘Elimination of a Picture & its Subject—called The Fellers' Master Stroke’ with his painting ‘The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke’


Module 6: Christina Rossetti

  1. “Goblin Market” with sketches of the same by D.G. Rossetti (1862) and Laurence Housman (1893)


Module 7: Coventry Patmore

  1. “The Woodman’s Daughter” with John Everett Millais’ painting of the same.


Module 8: Gerard Manley Hopkins

  1. “The Lantern Out of the Doors” with Holman Hunt’s painting ‘The Light of the World’ (1852-54)
  2. “Pied Beauty” (1877) with Whistler’s painting ‘Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket’ (1877)


Assessment Details with weights:

  1. Class Presentations on studying paintings with poetry: 30%
  2. Mid-term examination: 40 %
  3. End term examination: 40 %


Reading List:

As Indicated in the description of modules above


Selections from Ways of Seeing by John Berger will be used as background reading.