The Brontes and Their World

Humanities Seminars Course

The Brontes and Their World

Associate Professor, Associate Dean Laura C. Berry Department of English, UA Honors College
Past Course
WEDNESDAYS 9:00 am to 12:00 pm May 3 - May 31, 2017
Dorothy Rubel Room



The Bronte family – their extraordinary literary output, as well as their fascinating lives – have become something like a cottage industry, inspiring imitators, adaptations, a tourist attraction, tea towels, dance, music, and even the names of three asteroids. What accounts for this popularity? Is it the novels themselves? Or is it what is sometimes seen as the sensational aspects of their lives? In this course we will look at the novels, reading them as classic works of literature, understanding them as separate artifacts, but also examining their interrelations. At the same time, we will consider our continuing fascination with the Bronte family. We will also read Jean Rhys’s retelling of Jane Eyre’s story through the eyes of the madwoman in the attic. And we will examine the historical conditions of the time and the geographic and sociopolitical differences between Yorkshire, where the sisters mostly lived, and London, seen as the center of literary life.


Required Reading: 

Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. W. W. Norton, 2016. ISBN-10: 0393352560. ISBN-13: 978-0393352566.

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre.  Penguin Classics, 2006. ISBN-10: 0141441143. ISBN-13: 978-0141441146.

-------- . Villette. Penguin Classics, 2004. ISBN-10: 0140434798. ISBN-13: 978-0140434798.

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Penguin Classics, 2002. ISBN-10: 0141439556.  ISBN-13: 978-0141439556.


LAURA C. BERRY is Associate Professor of English at the University of Arizona and Associate Dean of The Honors College.  She is the author of The Child, the State and the Victorian Novel, and numerous articles on Dickens, the Brontes, George Eliot, and Victorian literature and culture.  She received her doctorate from UC Berkeley in 1992.


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