Weird Victorian Science, with Shelley, Hawthorne, Poe and more
Amid the ferment of scientific discoveries of the Victorian age, fiction writers such as Hawthorne, Poe and Shelley explored the dark side of scientific ambition and created some of the most enduring characters in popular culture. In this seminar we’ll read a range of 19th-century works and consider how these fictions participated in the debates of their own time and what significance they have today.
Nancy Carr has been reading and discussing Victorian and 20th-century literature for over two decades, and is excited to lead this seminar which uses a new lens to look at some old favourites. Nancy earned a PhD in English from the University of Virginia and worked as an editor and discussion leader for the Great Books Foundation for many years. She is now an instructional designer at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Social Work.
Frankenstein: The 1818 Text by Shelley, Mary
(Penguin Classics, Dec 2018)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – the Original 1886 Classic by Stevenson, Robert Louis
(Reader’s Library Classics)
The Island of Doctor Moreau and Other Stories by H G Wells
The Lifted Veil and Brother Jacob by Eliot, George
(Oxford World’s Classics)
Rappaccinni’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe
[Note: online links will be provided to Hawthorne’s “Rappacinni’s Daughter” and Poe’s “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.”]
To facilitate text references during the seminar, please obtain these editions.
We encourage you to support local bookstores or other independent sellers, especially as alternatives to Amazon.
In the US and the UK, try Bookshop.org, World of Books, or Ebooks (electronic books only)
In the US and Canada, try Powell’s Books, IndieBound, and Thiftbooks (used books only in Canada)
In Canada, try McNally Robinson. Toronto-based Ben McNally Books also takes orders by phone or email and ships across Canada.
The 19th century produced scientific inventions and discoveries that reshaped the outer and the inner worlds simultaneously. The steam locomotive, the internal combustion engine, the telegraph and telephone, and electrical power revolutionized communication and made industrialization possible. Meanwhile, the fields of medicine and psychology were rapidly changing as experimentation and professional collaboration increased.
Amid this ferment, fiction writers explored the dark side of scientific ambition and created some of the most enduring characters in popular culture, including the “mad scientist” whose determination to explore the unknown produces terrifying consequences. In this seminar we’ll be reading works published throughout the nineteenth century by a wide range of authors, and considering both how these fictions participated in the debates of their own time and what significance they have today.
Toronto Pursuits 2023
See the Toronto Pursuits 2023 page for full details on the program schedule, health and safety, booking your accommodations, terms and conditions, and more.
With how many things are we on the brink of becoming acquainted, if cowardice or carelessness did not restrain our inquiries.”
— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Concert ticket, Not eligible for discount, Five times, With friend, Gift registration