English Literature: From Victorianism to Modernism

Hunt_VictAssoc. Prof. Dr. Zelma Catalan
Dr. Vesselin Budakov
3 ECTS credits    bachelor    2nd semester, 1st year

The course aims to familiarise students with the literature of the Victorian period and the beginnings of Modernism at the turn of the nineteenth-century. The lectures introduce students to the major trends, counter-trends and transformations in the English novel, poetry and drama in the context of the social and cultural factors which affected their emergence and change. Special attention is given to modes of production and consumption of literature and the competing demands of “high” and popular modes of writing. The seminars aim to develop the necessary analytical skills are strongly practice- and student-oriented. They focus on representative texts from fiction, poetry and drama. The learning outcomes also include productive skills as students are required to give short presentations on specific aspects of the works under examination and to illustrate their points through close reading of selected passages.

Students are able to access core and supplementary course material and to carry out discussions on the Moodle platform.

On completing the course, students will be able to critically appreciate events and phenomena from 19th-century literary life in England in their interrelation and to place their arguments and opinions in the context of a broad range of social and cultural phenomena. They will be familiar with the major names and works characterising this period in English literary history.
The course is taught in English. The final grade is based on continuous assessment (50%), and the final exam (50%)




  1. Charles Dickens – Great Expectations
  2. Thomas Hardy – Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  3. Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness
  4. Robert Louis Stevenson – The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  5. Bernard Shaw – Arms and the Man

Cheap editions of the first three are available in most big bookstores in Sofia and around the country. All five, as well as the works listed below, are also freely available in various electronic formats on



Optional (but strongly recommended):



  1. Charles Dickens – Oliver Twist, Hard Times, Dombey and Son, Bleak House
  2. Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre
  3. Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights
  4. M. Thackeray – Vanity Fair
  5. Anthony Trollope – The Warden, Barchester Towers
  6. E. Braddon – Lady Audley’s Secret
  7. George Eliot – The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch
  8. Elisabeth Gaskell – Mary Barton
  9. Benjamin Disraelli – Sybil
  10. Thomas Hardy – The Mayor of Casterbridge, Jude the Obscure
  11. Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray
  12. Joseph Conrad – Lord Jim, Nostromo

DRAMA: Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest

G.B.Shaw – Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Saint Joan, Major Barbara

POETRY: Poems by Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Matthew Arnold, Christina Rossetti.



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