English 2123: Studies in Literary Traditions and Themes:
Monsters of London
Daniel A. Novak, Associate Professor of English
Required Materials and Resources:
(Penguin Books, 9780141439747)
The Picture of Dorian Gray
(Penguin Books, 2003) ISBN 9780141439570
(Norton Critical Edition, 1997) ISBN: 0-393-97012-4
Robert Louis Stevenson,
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
H. G. Wells,
The Island of Dr. Moreau
(Dover thrift edition) ISBN: 9780486290270
H. G. Wells,
War of the Worlds
(Dover thrift edition) ISBN 13: 9780486295060
Further Readings and Supplemental Materials provided in course pack that must be purchased from the
Instructor prior to the beginning of the course.
These include works by Henry Mayhew, Judith Walkowitz, Max Nordau, and others.
Course Description and Objectives:
This course is a part of the General Education curriculum because it introduces students to a
variety of major authors and literary genres.
The course focuses on 19
century British literature that use London to explore anxieties and
fantasies about criminality, race, gender, and nation. In these texts, threats to British ‘purity’ and identity
come in the form of the invading foreigner (for example, Dracula). But also as an internal threat from
degenerate elements of British society (the criminal classes of what William Booth calls “Darkest London”),
sexual dissidents, and even from the psychological impulses of the unconscious (Jekyll and Hyde). London
served not just as a background for these writers to set their stories or as inspiration, but as a kind of
character in these novels. We will be walking in the footsteps of fictional characters like Dickens’s villain
Fagin, Stoker’s Count Dracula, Stephenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, and Wilde’s Dorian Gray.
As the Capital of
the British Empire, it serves as the hub for thinking about British identity and its involvement in not just