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HIS 116 — Society and Culture in Victorian England: Only You and Me Dressed Differently

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Oct 5—Nov 2
Time: 5:30—7:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Oct 7
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $340
Instructor(s): Julie Taddeo
Limit: 40
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
5:30—7:20 pm (PT)
Oct 5—Nov 2
5 weeks
Refund Date
Oct 7
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Julie Taddeo
Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
"I don’t believe that there ever were such people. Only you and me and William dressed differently,” Mrs. Swithin says of the Victorians in Virginia Woolf’s final novel, Between the Acts (1941).

Queen Victoria, Jack the Ripper, Charles Darwin, Oscar Wilde—all were “Victorian,” yet beyond the costumes and theatrics seen in popular culture, what did that word mean and what values did it encompass? This course will examine the social and cultural life of England between 1830 and 1900, from Buckingham Palace to the parlors of the newly prosperous middle class and the slums of London’s East End. We will meet the queen who modernized the monarchy and oversaw the acquisition of a vast empire. Victoria also endorsed values of “self-help” and domesticity, which shaped parliamentary laws to combat extreme poverty but also gave us that quintessentially Dickensian institu-tion: the workhouse. The Victorians also indulged in popular entertainments marketed as “scientific” and consumed colonial products that reinforced hierarchies rooted in class, gender, and racial differences. As the century progressed, certain figures—New Women, “inverts,” criminals like Jack the Ripper—challenged the Victorian moral order, and the nation’s superpower status wavered. This course will also debunk some of the stereotypes about the Victorians that persist to this day and ponder how and why the Victorians continue to fascinate us.

Research Professor of British History, University of Maryland

Julie Taddeo received a PhD from the University of Rochester and has been teaching for over 20 years. She is the author and editor of books on the Bloomsbury Group, period drama television, steampunk, and the author Catherine Cookson. She frequently lectures on such topics as the Victorians, the British Royals, and British popular culture.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.