The Victorian Short Story

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Module code


  • Level 1
  • Semester 1
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%
  • Evening classes, day and time tbc


The Victorian era is famous for its lengthy triple-decker novels, but the rise in periodical publication also saw a boom in the production of short stories.  This course takes into account some of the most famous short stories of the period by writers including Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling, to less well-known works by Mary Beaumont, George Egerton and Charlotte Mew. Through a close engagement with a wide selection of texts, this module will trace the development of a number of genres, including detective fiction, science fiction and the Gothic and will cover a number of key issues such as class, gender, and empire.


Dr James Morris


The module will be taught by a weekly two-hour workshop over 11 weeks.


This module is assessed as follows:

  • Presentation (10%)
  • 2 x 1,000 word close-reading essays (45% each).


Indicative Reading

Most of the primary reading will be taken from the Broadview Anthology of Victorian Short Stories.  Any texts not in the anthology will be made available online through the library.  An indicative selection of some of the reading on the module includes:

  • Rudyard Kipling, ‘Lispeth’
  • Mary Beaumont, ‘The Revenge of her Race’
  • Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
  • H.G. Wells, ‘The Star’
  • Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’
  • Charlotte Mew, ‘A White Night’
  • Mary de Morgan, ‘A Toy Princess’
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘Markheim’

Module Aims

  • To provide students with the key skills required to undertake an undergraduate degree in the Humanities.
  • To increase students’ knowledge of the development (and growth in popularity) of the short story as a form throughout the Victorian period.
  • To consider the works of various writers in their literary and cultural contexts, paying particularly close attention to genre.
  • To give students some knowledge of the particular issues shorter fiction of the Victorian period often tackled.
  • To help students develop the necessary skills to write critically about Victorian texts.

Intended learning outcomes

  • able to develop the critical thinking and writing skills to prepare them for further study at undergraduate level.
  • able to engage critically with a representative range of short fiction throughout the Victorian period.
  • capable of showing an understanding of the cultural contexts which shaped writing during the period.
  • able to demonstrate a knowledge of some of the central aesthetic and cultural debates which took place in the years surrounding the publication of the works studied.
  • show an awareness of innovations in short fiction throughout the period.
  • able to use relevant critical and digital resources in preparing written work.