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November 08, 2006


Jonathan Dresner

Yeah, I gave up using that exercise in my Asian history classes a while back. Between the Hong Kong movies and anime, they get a lot more local flavor than anyone used to when I was growing up.


Yep. Even if they can come up with names of Victorian writers, and even if they've *read* some of them (!), many still have no general notion of the period.

Sometimes if I give them some cues about the repressed bit, they'll come 'round, but that has "leading question" written all over it.


Absolutely. In fact, I think I've taught my honor's seminar "Decadent Victorians" for the last time, because if the students don't understand any of the stereotypes associated with the Victorian period, they certainly aren't going to be able to follow a class based on the idea of counter-cultural Victorians.


Hooray for Gosse in the "Evolution" section of the new Norton!


Yes, I've noticed the same thing. So I can no longer do "the Victorians weren't as repressed as you think" or my other favorite, "the Victorians did too write fantasy." They don't know that "Victoria's Secret" is sort of a joke name.


I blame schools and, "as we all know, spoon-feeding and repression go on as before, and the classroom system upon which ad schools are run, is still based upon these twin demons of futility." Sadly, this was H. Caldwell Cook writing in 1917, so perhaps I'm just grumbling the way malcontented teachers have always grumbled.

Chet Scoville

That's nothing; try asking students what they know about the Middle Ages some time.


What I get is students who have no idea, or only a very hazy idea, of what time period constitutes "the Victorian." When I've done a similar free association exercise on the first day of a class devoted to Victorian lit/culture, students have asserted that the Victorian era embraced both the lifetime of Shakespeare and WWI.


Well, I recently read a student essay wherein the student claimed to be the "Valid Victiorian" of his graduation class. Does this count as a reference to "victorians"?

Natalie Bennett

Doing handling of historic coins at the British Museum, I once had a couple of American college-age women who were completely, utterly blank on who Queen Victoria was. Yet even the Korean and Japanese visitors - or at least the ones who speak English - usually know she was a British Queen and at least vaguely her period.

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