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21 Special Forum: Victorian Studies and Interdisciplinarity Works Cited Hermes, Joke, and Peter Dahlgren.“Cultural Studies and Citizenship.” European Journal of Cultural Studies 9.3 (2006): 259–65. Maton, Karl, and Handel Wright.“Returning Cultural Studies to Education.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 5.4 (2002): 379–92. • The DayVictorian Poetry Became Cool: An Interdisciplinary Approach to theTeaching ofTennyson and His Contemporaries M a rysa Demo or • Victorian literature was not taught when I was a student in Belgium in the 1970s. Students studying English were taken straight from the Romantic poetsWordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley to modernist poets and writers such as T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf.The gap between those generations was not even mentioned. No questions were asked, since no one even guessed there was anything interesting to be said about the intervening period. But I had grown up feeding on stories like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and LittleWomen. In fact, I had read those in a Dutch translation (my mother tongue) at an early and impressionable age and therefore decided, not surprisingly, to write my PhD on a Victorian subject. After consulting the one Victorian scholar I knew, Professor David Carroll, I focused my research on Andrew Lang (1844–1912), probably one of the most multi-faceted ofVictorians, with an immense list of publications to his name, ranging from Historical Mysteries and The Making of Religion to biographies ofTennyson and Lockhart.This almost impossible diversity guaranteed oblivion in the subsequent age of specialization .And Henry James, totally at odds with Lang’s views on fiction, sealed the latter’s coffin when he wrote to Edmund Gosse: His mixture of endowments and vacant holes, and ‘the making of the part’ of each, would by themselves be matter for a real edifying critical study… my having recently read his (in two or three respects so able) Joan of Arc, or Maid of France, and turned over his just-published (I think posthumous) compendium of ‘English Literature’, which lies on my table downstairs.The extraordinary inexpensiveness and childishness and impertinence of this latter gave to my sense the measure of a whole side of Lang, and yet which was one of the sides of his greatest flourishing. (Lubbock 286) When, subsequently, I obtained a lecturership in English literature at Ghent University, I made sure Victorian fiction became an obligatory subject for victorian review • Volume 33 Number 1 22 students of English. It was only later, in the 1990s, that I immersed myself in Victorian poetry with the intention to teach that subject as well, if at all feasible. It was the right time. Nineteenth-century fiction has been used as the reference point for so many seminal theoretical works, from Foucault and Lacan to de Beauvoir and Gilbert and Gubar, that teaching those prose texts did (and still does) not need an extensive apologia.With poetry things stand differently.The very combination “Victorian poetry” somehow prompts a reaction of disgust among students. But this changes as soon as they taste the poetry itself and become aware of its reverberations in the contemporary and current arts, both visual and musical. ApproachingVictorian poetry by using a combination of disciplines has proven to be a most congenial and highly fruitful method of teaching.The material itself begs for such an interdisciplinary approach. I always start with Tennyson, often seen by those who do not know his work as the most boring ofVictorian poets.Yet his poetry is so multi-layered and poly-interpretable, so unexpectedly modern in its feelings and forms, that one can turn this into a real treat for students. After a cursory glance at the poet’s life and after highlighting some of the most important events in his life and age, I let students listen to Tennyson’s voice reading “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” now freely available on the Web. This voice, however faint and fragile, accompanied by a few extracts from his letters, brings the man to life.Then I invariably continue with “The Lady of Shalott.” I never do the reading myself but let Loreena McKennitt’s music do it for me. For many of the students, this is the “moment supreme”: the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 21-24
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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