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Death in Victorian Culture


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Tutor: David McAllister (subject to change)
  • Assessment: a 5000-word essay (100%)

Module description

This module explores the extraordinary culture that grew up around the subject of death in the Victorian period. In a series of seminars we will cover a huge range of topics, from the vast, landscaped garden cemeteries which opened up on the fringes of cities, to the rich material culture which developed around death in the period, and the literary texts that shaped and were in turn shaped by changes in how the Victorians considered death. You will be encouraged to explore the intersections between the material archive and these textual representations of death, grief and loss. There will also be an optional field trip to one of London’s Victorian cemeteries.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • identify and discuss the most significant areas of Victorian death culture
  • trace how this culture changed over the nineteenth century
  • delineate some of the causes of these changes in changing patterns of religious belief, sanitary debates, technological and scientific developments
  • analyse how writers of poetry and fiction reflect, engage with and help shape this culture.