English - Free topic D: Victorian Metropolis: Investigators and Investigations

Course content

The fictional crime detectives and the real-life social investigators of the Victorian age had much in common: the putting on of disguises, the investigation into urban ‘mysteries’, and the attempt to solve criminal or social ‘problems’. The rise of investigators and investigations in early-mid 19th century London came in response to the developing split between a respectable urban middle class and an inner city underclass; and to the making of the ‘inner colonial’ urban poor, who were often viewed as unknowable, primitive and heathen. This course explores the world of Victorian investigators and investigations to understand better the social milieu of the urban poor, the attitudes towards them, and the representations of them. The course combines history and literature in several productive ways. For instance, ee will have the opportunity to trace the development of crime fiction by examining the confessions recorded in the Newgate Calendars, which provide information on central social, political and gender-related anxieties of the age. Other sources include popular theatrical melodrama, the sensational periodical press, the archetypal detective stories featuring Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, as well as social survey reports and journalistic reportage.

Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens’ and Wilike Collins’ stories and journalism, records from the Old Bailey and the notorious Newgate Prison, the sensational The Malefactors' Bloody Register, theories of criminology and the physiognomy of criminals

This course only leads to exams Free Topic 1, Free Topic 2 and Free Topic 3.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio uploaded in digital exam: Deadline June 8th 2022
Short research essay one, 5 pages (week 9)
Short research essay two, 5 pages (week 13)
Oral presentation with reflection paper, 1 page (week 18)
Final integrated paper, 10-14 pages (week 20)
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • English
  • 409,5


Course number
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Full Degree Master choice

1 semester

See schedule
Study board of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting department
  • Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinators
  • Robert William Rix   (5-756d756c7b436b7870316e7831676e)
  • Peter Leese   (5-6f68687668436b7870316e7831676e)
Saved on the 27-04-2021

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