1. The problem of child labor preoccupied and troubled many Victorian writers, such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning in The Cry of the Children.  The exploitation of children was by no means a new phenomenon.  Consider William Blake’s representation of child labor in the two poems entitled “The Chimney Sweeper” (see NAEL 8, 2.85 and 90).  How do writers in the Victorian and Romantic periods imagine children’s voices, and how do they perceive the problem of child labor?  Is the Victorian imagination more sympathetic to children than was the case in earlier periods?
  2. How do writers like John Stuart Mill and Matthew Arnold draw on or depart from the style of eighteenth-century essayists in their nonfiction writing? How do their respective styles differ from or compare to their eighteenth-century predecessors, such as John Locke in the selection from An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (see NAEL 8, 1.2152-55). How do they differently or similarly position themselves with respect to their readerships? Also consider forms and structure of argumentation.
  3. What is the place of religion in society, literature, and education in the Middle Ages as compared to the Victorian era? How is the function and place of spirituality expressed? To what extent are spiritual concerns wrapped up in the institution of the Church? Consider the selection from John Henry Cardinal Newman's The Idea of the University and the selection from Bede's An Ecclesiastical History of the English People (see NAEL 8, 1.25-27).
  4. The Renaissance, and especially its art, was of intense importance to Victorians like Robert Browning (in Fra Lippo Lippi and Andrea del Sarto) and Walter Pater (in Studies in the History of the Renaissance).  Many writers of the English Renaissance also had powerfully visual imaginations.  Christopher Marlowe’s Hero and Leander is marked by vivid and fanciful descriptions, such as that of the heroine’s clothing (see NAEL 8, 1.1004-1022, esp. lines 9-36).  How does the sixteenth-century poet’s visual imagination resemble or differ from that of the Victorians, in their meditations on Renaissance art?  In each case, consider the importance attributed to spectacle, to realism, to sensuality, and to feeling.

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