ENG 315: Disney’s Victorians
Dr. Fleming
Today’s Agenda:
• Why “Disney’s Victorians”?
– Who are the Victorians, and what could they
possibly have to do with Walt Disney?
• Class Business
• Romantic Childhood
Queen Victoria and Walt Disney
Walt Disney, 1901-1966
Queen Victoria, 1819-1901
The Norton Anthology of English
Literature
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.
F.
The Middle Ages: 530 pages
16th and early 17th centuries: 1600 pages
The 18th Century: 900 pages
Romantic Period (1789-1832): 1000 pages
The Victorian Period: 840 pages
The 20th Century and After: 1100 pages
Rollins College English Courses
Required:
• ENG 201 Major English Writings I: Critical and historical approaches
to writers of the Medieval and Renaissance periods
• ENG 202 Major English Writings II: Critical and historical
approaches to writers of the long Eighteenth Century, the Romantic
period, and the Victorian Age.
British Literature Electives:
• ENG 310/410 Studies in Anglo Saxon and Medieval Literature
• ENG 311/411 Studies in Renaissance Literature
• ENG 314/414 Topics in Restoration and 18th-Century Literature
• ENG 315/415 Studies in 19th-Century British Literature
• ENG 319/419 Studies in 20th-Century British Literature
Side note: ENG 305 and 306 American Literature, Beginnings through
1865 and 1865 to Present
The Victorians
1832-3: Passage of the first Reform Act expands the franchise to nearly
1/6th of the male population; Factory Act limits working ours
(children 14-18 could work only 12 hours a day); slavery is abolished
1837: Victoria becomes Queen
1850: William Wordsworth dies; succeeded as Poet Laureate by Alfred
Tennyson
1854: Crimean War
1859: Darwin’s Origin of Species is published
1870: Married Women’s Property Act
1876: Victoria becomes Empress of India
1878: Electric street lighting in London
1890: London’s first subway line opens
1901: Death of Victoria
The Victorians
1837: Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
1847: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre; Emily Bronte,
Wuthering Heights
1848: William Thackeray, Vanity Fair
1855: Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South
1865: Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
1872: George Eliot, Middlemarch
1890: Oscar Wilde, A Picture of Dorian Gray
The Victorians and the First “Golden
Age” of Children’s Literature
1837: Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales
1846: Edward Lear, Book of Nonsense
1863: Charles Kingsley, The Water Babies
1865: Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
1868: Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
1870: Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
1872: George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin
1876: Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer
1880: Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings
1883: Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio
1887: Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
1894: Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Books
1902: J. M. Barrie, The Little White Bird
Disney’s Victorians
Victorian Texts
1837: Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales
1865: Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in
Wonderland
1870: Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under
the Sea
1880: Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus:
His Songs and Sayings
1883: Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio
1887: Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure
Island
1894: Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Books
1902: J. M. Barrie, The Little White Bird
Disney Films
The Little Mermaid (1989); Frozen (2013)
Alice in Wonderland (1951, 2010)
Live action film (1954)
Song of the South (1946)
Pinocchio (1940)
Disney studio’s first live action film (1950)
The Jungle Book (1967)
Peter Pan (1953)
Question for the semester:
How is our understanding of a text shaped by
that text’s reception history? In other words,
how have past cultural encounters set the tone
for present and future readings?
A version of that question: how have Disney’s
adaptations of Victorian texts affected our cultural
understanding of the period?
How much do you know about Walt
Disney?
“The best way I can tell a
story to the public is to
use a character they
know” – Walter Elias
Disney
What (else) determines the reception
history of Victorian texts?
• The Victorians themselves
– Already conscious of themselves as “modern”
– New technologies: Railroads, steam boats,
photography, the transatlantic telegraph (1858),
the telephone and phonograph (1876 and 1877)
• The Modernists
– T. S. Eliot, “The Metaphysical Poets”
• Literary Critics (i.e., your professors)
Queen Victoria and Walt Disney
Walt Disney, 1901-1966
Queen Victoria, 1819-1901
Some Eminent Victorians
Major-General Charles George Gordon (1833-1885) led the
British army in China before being stationed in Khartoum,
where his courageous stand and valiant death made him a
hero in Britain.
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), social reformer and
nurse during the Crimean War, is considered the founder
of modern nursing.
Thomas Arnold (1795-1842), educator, historian, and head of
Rugby School. Father of Matthew Arnold. Known for his school
reform and promotion of classical education.
Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians (1918)
The Victorians, “seem to me a set
of mouth bungled hypocrites”
(Strachey, in a letter to Virginia
Woolf, 1912)
“The history of the Victorian Age
will never be written; we know
too much about it. For ignorance
is the first requisite of the
historian—ignorance, which
simplifies and clarifies, which
selects and omits, with a placid
perfection unattainable by the
highest art.”
Richard Owen, “Dulce et
Decorum Est” (1917)
(read by Kenneth Branagh)
Course Goals
• Discuss how our understanding of a text is shaped by
that text’s reception (in other words, how past cultural
encounters set the tone for present and future
readings)
• Understand, summarize, and respond to critical
arguments about literature, recognizing the
assumptions literary scholars hold and the different
kinds evidence they muster in support of their
arguments.
• Learn about the Victorian period, the history of
children’s literature, and the cultural prominence of
Walt Disney.
Assignments
• Complete all readings and participate in class
discussions
• Post to course blog and lead discussion of a text
• Comment on your classmates’ blog posts.
• Locate a contemporary instance of a Victorian text
• Summarize two critical articles.
• Examine a film adaptation.
– This is due in April, but you’ll be most successful if you
think about it as we go.
• Final project.
Books for this class
• Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (Norton, 9780393962925)
• Sherlock Holmes (Bedford Critical Edition, 0312089457)
• The Classic Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tater (Norton,
9780393972771)
• Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (Norton, 0393958043)
• Barrie, Peter Pan and other Plays (I ordered Oxford World
Classics, 0199537836, but any edition will do, provided it’s
the play not the novel)
• Stevenson, Treasure Island (Broadview, 9781551114095)
• Kipling, The Jungle Books (I ordered Signet Classics,
0451529758; but any edition will do)
Course Website
• http://social.rollins.edu/wpsites/disneysvictori
ans/
• Readings posted under “schedule”
• Blog posts:
– Will summarize previous class, prepare for next
– Due Sunday by 5:00pm (you’ll need to be signed
in to post)
– Be sure to read each week (comment at least 3
times this semester)
William Wordsworth, “We Are Seven”
“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from
Recollections of Early Childhood”
Homework for Next Week
• Read the syllabus, schedule (if you’re reading this, you’re
already on the way) and course policies. For this and all
subsequent weeks, read also the blog posts to our course
website
• On the Victorian Web, read the introduction to the
Victorian period and to Queen Victoria
• Read Oliver Twist chapters I to XXII (pages 17-155 in the
Norton)
• Skim Victorian Web’s overview of the Poor Laws and “The
anti-Poor Law campaign”
• Read William Blake, “The Chimney Sweeper” and E. B.
Browning, “The Cry of the Children”

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