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Victorian Poetry

4. Selfhood and the Self

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About this Lecture


In this module, we focus on the concept of the self and selfhood, thinking in particular about ‘Maud’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson, ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese XXIV’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and ‘At an Inn’ by Thomas Hardy, among other poems.


In this course, Professor Valentine Cunningham (University of Oxford) explores Victorian Poetry, looking specifically at the poetry of Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Thomas Hardy. As we move through the course, we think about five key concepts in Victorian poetry: firstly, the use of repetition; secondly, presence and absence; thirdly, sadness and melancholy; fourthly, self and selfhood; and fifthly, self-reflexivity.


Valentine Cunningham (born 1944) is a professor of English language and literature at the University of Oxford. He tutors English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he is an Emeritus Fellow and served as Vice President. His specialism is modern English literature and literary theory. He has written a number of books, including a 2008 biography of Charles Dickens. He was on the panel of judges for the Booker Prize in both 1992 and 1998. He frequently reviews books for a number of UK and US newspapers and journals.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cunningham, V. (2018, August 15). Victorian Poetry - Selfhood and the Self [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cunningham, V. "Victorian Poetry – Selfhood and the Self." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,