London, United Kingdom

The Birth of Feminism: UCL, Bloomsbury and Fin-de-Siècle Radicalism

when 26 June 2023 - 14 July 2023
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 7.5 EC
fee GBP 2350

This module explores the rise of feminism in England from the publication of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to World War I, when London was a hot house of radical thinking and the temporary or definitive home of a variety of brilliant cosmopolitan thinkers and writers who converged here attracted by the infinite opportunities for debate on the most varied ‘isms’: positivism, liberalism, socialism, trade-unionism, Ibsenism, Freudianism, vegetarianism, pacifism, secularism and, last but not least, evolutionism. Darwin’s theories of natural and sexual selection and his views of the place of woman in the evolution of the human species had a wide and deep impact on the debate on the Woman Question. They were received and appropriated in different ways by New Woman writers, but none of them escaped their influence.

UCL had a prominent place in these exciting debates also because of its deep connection to Darwinism through figures such as Francis Galton, Edward Grant, Edwin Ray Lankester and Karl Pearson, so this is the right place to explore Darwinism’s fundamental ontological implications for the cultural and literary discourse of the fin-de siècle.

Course leader

Dr Maria-Novella Mercuri

Target group

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required to study this module but students are expected to have a keen interest in the subject area. Students must have completed at least one year of undergraduate study by the start of the module in order to enroll.

Course aim

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

Broad knowledge of the historical development of feminism and of the movement for civil rights in Britain
Knowledge of the literature produced by a group of feminist authors who have been generally overlooked by traditional academic curricula, and of their contribution to literary Modernism
Understanding of a culturally intense moment in the history of London and of a period of dramatic social and political changes in Britain
Understanding of the ontological impact that the theory of evolution and psychoanalysis had on Victorians
Understanding of the impact that Ibsen’s theatre had not only on the London stage but also on radical literary and philosophical debates

Credits info

7.5 EC
7.5 ECTS / 4 US / 15 UCL

Fee info

GBP 2350: There is a built-in tuition fee discount for students studying in both sessions (6 weeks)
GBP : Students are welcome to apply for accommodation at a UCL summer residence.