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English Explorations: The New Woman Imperiled
Dorset, United Kingdom; London, United Kingdom; Whitby, United Kingdom
Program Terms: May Experience
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Restrictions: Furman applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
The application period for this program has not started.
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Faculty-led Language of Instruction: English
Faculty Director or Program Advisor: Allison Hurst - Sociology, Gretchen Braun - English Areas of Study: English, History, Sociology
Type of Course Credit: Furman course credit Credit Hours Per Term: 2 credits
Applicable Financial Aid: Study Away Scholarship Housing: Hotel
Program Description:



Do you like to read novels?  Would you like to read them where they take place?  In this May Experience course, you will have the opportunity to read George Gissing’s The Odd Women while exploring the British Library and Museums in London, read Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles while hiking through the English countryside in Dorsetshire, and read Bram Stoker’s Dracula in Whitby, where the vampire comes to shore.  Each of these three fin de siècle novels responds to the emergence of  “the New Woman” – the product of shifting cultural standards and socio-legal changes in British society.  In addition to reading the novels, we will study these momentous social changes, eventually broadening our understanding and deepening our appreciation for these three interesting and influential works of fiction.

This is an interdisciplinary course that fits within the overall liberal arts mission of educating the whole person and the particular Furman promise of engaged learning.  Reading novels in location while simultaneously learning about social context and implications from supplementary library and museum visits is an exercise in engaged learning.  Our hope is that students experience these novels in a way that would be unavailable through traditional classroom learning, and that this experience then enriches their understanding and appreciation of the society in which they live.

In Dorset, we will take extensive walks, following the wanderings of Tess; in Whitby, we will explore the mysterious landscape of North Yorkshire and its borders history in synch with the “invasion” of the infamous vampire, who first comes ashore at that location; in London, we will explore the city much as the “Odd Women” of Gissing’s novel do, taking public transport, staying in student lodgings, visiting sites of the early women’s movement.  We will also make frequent visits to the archives at the British Museum and Libraries in London, grounding our readings of the novels in historical knowledge and social context.  Finally, we will make a visit to the Inns of Court and their legal archives for an exploration of how late 19th century laws affected the lives of women.

We will be devoting approximately one-third of course time to reading and discussing the three novels, in place.  The other two-thirds of course time will be devoted to visits to museums, libraries, archives, and locations of historical interest (e.g., Whitby Abbey) that provide a larger socio-legal context to the advent of “The New Woman.”  Thus, although there will be some textual analysis appropriate to the discipline of English, there will actually be more time spent on sociological analyses of social changes relevant to the legal status of women in late nineteenth-century England. 


MXXXX: English Explorations: The New Woman Imperiled.
At the fin de siècle, “The New Woman” became both a flash point for British fears of social change and an emblem of hope for the coming century. This course explores these cultural shifts through materialist analysis of three works of fiction (The Odd Women, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and Dracula).  Readings of these works will coincide with location visits to London, Whitby, and Dorset. (2 Credits)


This course is not targeted towards any specific majors or departments, but instead is intended as an interdisciplinary exploration of interesting and illuminating late 19th-century literary texts. There are no essential student qualifications, other than an interest in reading literature, intellectual curiosity, and the ability to walk the English countryside (2-3 hours).  Although the course will be open to all, if we have more interest than spots we will allocate those spots based on class year, with due consideration to evidence of emotional maturity and intellectual ability.


Accommodations: In London we will be staying in University Housing; in Dorset and Whitby we will stay in small hotels or B&B style accommodations.

Meals: Breakfast is included in the accommodations throughout the whole program. With the exception of two free days, students will be provided meals or cash with which to purchase the rest of their meals.


Participants will not require any special health precautions.  The CDC recommends only routine vaccinations (including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and flu shot).  All three sites – London, Dorset, and Whitby, are easily accessible to medical care of good quality.

Easy walking in the Dorset countryside will be an important part of the course, however.  Easy walking is here defined as between one and three hours of level walking at a measured (not strenuous) pace.  Students who are interested in the trip but who are for some reason unable to meet this requirement may make alternative arrangements with the program directors in advance.


Approximately $4,200
Included in this cost: airfare, ground transportation, accommodation, all but two days of meals, entrance fees, international health insurance, course instruction and some incidentals.


Additional student costs will not be significant.  They include lunches/dinners for the two “free days” (in London and Whitby), phone calls, non-program sightseeing, personal items, entertainment, and cost of the three novels (supplementary readings will be provided gratis).

This program is currently not accepting applications.