Spring 2019

Gender, Class, and Crime: The Victorian Underworld

Listed in: European Studies, as EUST-432  |  History, as HIST-432


Ellen R. Boucher (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 432 [EU] and EUST 432) Victorian Britain was a nation of contrasts. It was at once the world’s foremost economic and imperial power, the richest nation in Europe, and the country where the consequences of industrialization–slums, poverty, disease, alcoholism, sexual violence–took some of their bleakest forms. In an era of revolution, Britain enjoyed one of the most stable political systems in Europe; yet it was also a society plagued by crime and by fears of popular unrest, the place where Marx predicted the worker’s revolt would begin. This seminar explores the complex world of the Victorians through a focus on what contemporaries termed the “social problem”: the underclass of criminals, paupers, and prostitutes who seemed immune to reform. Themes will include political liberalism and the Poor Law, imperialism at home and abroad, industrialization and urbanization, sanitation, hygiene, and disease control initiatives, shifting cultural understandings of gender and class, and Jack the Ripper. Students will be expected to write a research paper on a topic of their choice. One class meeting per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Boucher.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to History majors, by seniority if necessary


Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2019