Module code: ELI2040

Module Overview

This interdisciplinary module, focused on Victorian creative partnerships, explores connections between texts, individuals, couples, circles and movements. It investigates the ways in which female and male figures worked in various forms of partnership: as spouses, siblings, friends and lovers. It examines a range of Victorian texts including poems, short stories, plays, novels and novellas, letters and diaries as well as visual texts. It engages with the themes of gender, sexuality, identity, power, partnership, co/authorship and readership. The module introduces students to contextual debates about sexual politics, gender and representation in the nineteenth-century, and seeks to understand how writers responded and contributed to them. It also reads nineteenth-century figures and texts in relation to more recent feminist and gender theory, revealing their continued cultural importance. Authors studied include: tthe Brownings, the Brontës, George Eliot and George Henry Lewes, Arthur Hugh Clough and Matthew Arnold, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, the Rossettis, and Michael Field.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

ROSE Lucy Ella (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 2

Independent Learning Hours: 104

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

A study of creative partnerships formed in the long nineteenth century, focusing on a new partnership every week, from the Brownings to the Bloomsbury group, in relation to their auto/biographical, historical, socio-political and global contexts, as well as in relation to relevant cultural, critical and theoretical frameworks. Partnerships studied might include: Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning (marital partnership); the Bronte sisters; Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens; Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti as well as Elizabeth Siddal and Fanny Eaton (Pre-Raphaelite partnerships); Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas (decadent same-sex male partnership); George Eliot and George Henry Lewes (common-law marriage); and Michael Field (same-sex female partnership). A wide range of partnerships, texts and contexts are studied, and this module is unique in its study of figures in creative collaboration. Week 12 may include a site visit to Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village to experience the locus of a Victorian creative partnership (through a tour of the Wattses’ restored Surrey studio-home) and their works (visual, literary, collaborative, archival).

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Visual Close Reading Exercise (500 words) 30
Coursework Essay (2000 words) 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the module learning outcomes. Seminar discussion with ongoing tutor feedback is designed to assess professional/practical skills in communicating ideas orally and transferable skills in working individually and collaboratively. It also assesses subject knowledge relating to formal, contextual, critical, and theoretical approaches to the study of Victorian literature. Seminars assess cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking and in the analysis of literary form and language, as well as developing an ability to read and discuss visual texts such as paintings, illustrations and photographs. The 1000-word visual close reading exercise assesses subject knowledge relating to the close analysis of form and meaning; it assesses cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking, and professional/practical skills in communicating ideas in writing. The 2000-word essay also assesses these skills, as well as subject knowledge relating to formal, contextual, critical, and theoretical approaches to the study of Victorian poetry, prose and painting. The 2000-word essay further assesses transferable skills, namely the ability to conduct research for written work in an organised and critical fashion and to develop and communicate imaginative and rigorous arguments.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • 500-word visual close reading exercise, building on assessment strategies featuring close reading components but with an innovative visual element, designed to develop skills in the analysis of artworks related to literature (30%).

  • 2000-word essay, developing skills in comparative essay writing (featured in assessment across the programme) whilst encouraging interdisciplinary approaches (70%).

Formative assessment and feedback Formative ‘feed forward’ is provided through seminar discussions, tutor feedback in seminars, feedback on the first assessment (the close reading essay), and on the students’ collaborative ‘Network Map’ presentations.

Module aims

  • The module aims to: enable you to develop an understanding of the formation and proliferation of creative partnerships (married couples, siblings, same-sex and queer couples) ) in Victorian culture and beyond, studying the creative partnership as a concept and as a radical redefinition of traditional gender relations
  • deepen an understanding of the relationship between professional literary practice, partnership and politics in the long nineteenth century, and the effect of this on contemporary culture
  • expand your knowledge of how Victorian writers responded to and informed contemporary gender debates and early feminist discourse, and to encourage your own interventions in such debates
  • show how a diverse range of literary and visual texts can be read in conjunction and from more recent theoretical perspectives in order to advance your critical thinking and application of theoretical frameworks to literature
  • improve oral and written communication skills through essay assessments, presentations and seminar discussions, honing transferable professional skills
  • develop and strengthen skills in close reading and analysis of literary and visual texts, cultivating critical thinking and an awareness of different perspectives useful to academia and beyond
  • strengthen your ability to undertake independent and collaborative research ¿ using digital tools, IT skills and online materials ¿ developing resourcefulness and resilience
  • enable you to explore how nineteenth-century partnerships and texts relate to wider historical, social, cultural and global contexts, as well as different disciplines (e.g. fine art, photography)

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will be able to: Demonstrate in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of the contexts, formations and practices of creative partnerships in the Victorian period K
002 Understand how to locate analyses of Victorian literature in broader historical and socio- political contexts, using detailed close reading to support this KC
003 Demonstrate advanced critical thinking and application of theoretical frameworks to Victorian literature C
004 Be able to effectively and professionally communicate information, arguments and analysis in oral and written formats T
005 Work independently and collaboratively in conducting research, demonstrating competency in using digital tools and archives P
006 Organise and apply the findings of that research in an essay and Gather, evaluate, and use evidence from a variety of primary and secondary sources, including the work of critics and theorists CT
007 Construct a coherent and nuanced argument, and present that argument in written form C

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to deliver subject knowledge, to develop analytical and interdisciplinary skills, and to develop in-depth practical and professional skills suitable for a range of careers. The delivery of the module through two-hour lecture-seminars places an emphasis on supportive peer-led learning, and enables students to develop their skills in analysing, communicating and debating ideas, facilitating communal thinking and self-reflection. The module content is research-led and asks students to develop a sophisticated understanding of formal, contextual, critical and theoretical approaches to the study of Victorian partnerships, texts and inter/national contexts, expanding cultural awareness. Uniquely, it offers students opportunities to gain knowledge and experience of approaches and discourses in English Literature and Art History, in literary criticism and in museum and gallery narratives, encouraging students’ awareness of employment and partnership opportunities in HE and non-HE sectors. Students will experience the latter first-hand in the site visit to Surrey’s Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village, where they can view visual artworks and explore archival material as well as the online collection. Skills sessions (e.g. approaches to reading visual texts; accessing and harnessing online archives) are also built into the module, which supports and advances students’ independent study and research competence through the use of digital resources. Students use digital multimedia archives and produce network maps on prezi or powerpoint – showing connections between figures, circles and movements in Victorian culture – in order to hone and showcase IT skills relevant to the programme and to future employment. Students engage in collaborative and collective work (in the formative assessment presentation done in pairs, and in seminar groupwork) that develops resourcefulness and resilience while complimenting the theme of the module (that is, partnership). This relates to the programme learning and teaching strategy, which, at FHEQ Level 5, is designed to develop subject knowledge through two-hour seminars and to develop transferable skills, with an emphasis on student-led involvement, critical analysis and discussion.

The learning and teaching methods include 2-hour seminar per week x 11 weeks; 2-hour site visit and revision in week 12

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELI2040

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:

Resourcefulness and Resilience: The module’s concept of creative partnerships – focusing specifically on collaboration and community in Victorian literature and culture – is also integral to its pedagogy and assessment. The module both studies historical figures who worked together and encourages students to work together – through, for example, the collaborative formative assessment ‘network map’ (detailed below) and in regular pair or group work in student-led seminars. This helps build confidence in communication, collaboration, organization and presentation, offering valuable experience of working with others in academia (which often involves individual/solitary work in literary studies) while also preparing students for professional careers. Collaborative activities are designed to build resilience, facilitate supportive peer-led learning, and develop employability skills. The module’s focus on a diverse range of figures (same-sex and queer couples as well as married couples and sibling partnerships) and on a wide range of different types of texts (including poetry, life writing and painting) as well as diverse critical voices encourages new perspectives on human relationships, gender identities and sexual orientations, challenging dominant patriarchal structures and narratives in the Victorian period and today. It fosters an open-mindedness and critical thinking that is valuable to the study of literature and to life. Workshop-style sessions on reading art – which is fundamental and unique to the module (but not a pre-requisite) – are built into seminars, developing interdisciplinary skills and discourses that prepare students for the final essay, for the site visit to Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village in week 12, and potentially for future careers in art gallery, museum and heritage sectors. In its focus on Victorian poetry and life writing, this module builds on – and prepares student for – modules that share a focus on this period and/or these genres across the programme at all levels.

Digital Capabilities: This module is interdisciplinary in its exploration of literary and visual creative partnerships (artists and writers), and as such, necessitates students’ use of digital platforms and resources to access online archives and museum/art gallery collections dedicated to nineteenth-century literature and visual culture. Students are offered supplementary learning materials such as links to sites and blogs on surreylearn, intended for seminar preparation and revision; this online provision supports individual and collaborative learning and research, and builds on students’ competency in engaging with surreylearn on all previous modules. These resources are used in order to conduct ‘live research’ in flipped-learning seminars (e.g. sourcing secondary material, or viewing artworks related to literary texts) either individually or in groups, according to the text/task. They may also be used in the creation of the formative assessment ‘network map’ – done collaboratively in pairs, enacting the module theme of partnership – using powerpoint/Prezzo to visualising connections between the Victorian artists, authors and activists. These maps are amalgamated at the end of the module and uploaded to surreylearn for the benefit of all students on the module, demonstrating a collective student output and creating a new student-led online learning resource that can be used for revision and further study on the programme. It is designed to develop students’ digital skills and confidence in locating, accessing and analysing online resources in and beyond seminars, advancing students’ ability to conduct independent research and supporting original work in seminars and essays. The more advanced digital skills developed on this module offer practical, transferable skills for employment and ensure proficient use of technologies central to a range of careers beyond academia. This module equips students with skills and subject knowledge relevant to level 4, 5 and 6 modules featuring Victorian figures, texts and movements (e.g. Aestheticism, Deacdence, the women’s suffrage movement).


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and Spanish BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and French BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.