Decadence and Aestheticism (Late-Victorian and Early-Modernist Literature)

English, School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies

College of Arts and Law


Code 23218

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 2

Module description

Art for art's sake' was the motto for a group of writers (most famously, Oscar Wilde) who scandalised society, and whose pursuit of beauty was seen to be at the expense of morality. Exploring in detail the concepts of 'decadence' and 'aestheticism', and drawing for comparison on the opposing movements (particularly popular literature) which help to define them, this course examines a period of outrageous and exuberant literary creativity.

Literature studied on this course will be explored in relation to contexts of both Victorianism and Modernism. Authors studied will vary and might include for example, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, New Woman writers, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, and Robert Louis Stevenson.