How did three sisters living an apparently secluded and eventless life write some of the most original, passionate and dramatic novels and poetry in the English language? Who were the Brontës, what fed their imaginations, and what makes their writing so haunting, intense, and important?
Listen to Dr Sandie Byrne talking about the course:
The website of the Brontë Parsonage Museum states: ‘To find two writers of genius in one family would be rare, but to find several writers in one household is unique in the history of literature. Charlotte and Emily are ranked among the world’s greatest novelists; Anne is a powerful underrated author, and both their father, the Revd. Patrick Brontë, and brother Branwell also saw their own works in print’. This course explores those works of genius and places them in their literary, cultural, and historical (including family) contexts. Participants will come to understand and to be able to analyse what makes the Brontës'writings so haunting, intense, and original. This course is for anyone who has read or would like to read the work of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë, or who is interested in nineteenth-century literature or women’s writing.
Students completing this course will be invited to join our online book group.
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.
1. Brontë lives and myths
2. Reading the Brontës
3. Charlotte Brontë: structure and themes of Jane Eyre
4. Charlotte Brontë: contexts of Jane Eyre
5. Anne Brontë: contexts of Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
6. Anne Brontë: representations of women
7. Emily Brontë: themes and motifs
8. Brontë manuscripts and editions
9. Emily Brontë: structure and language of Wuthering Heights
10. The endings of the Brontës’ novels, rewritings, prequels and sequels, and opportunities for further exploration.
We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.
To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following paperback books:
• Brontë, Charlotte, Jane Eyre,
• Brontë, Emily, Wuthering Heights
• Brontë, Anne, Agnes Grey
• Brontë, Anne, The Tennant of Wildfell Hall
• Poems of the Brontës (any edition – also available online) [selected poems].
• Alexander, Christine, & Smith, Margaret, The Oxford Companion to the Brontës (Oxford, OUP, 2006).
The novels are listed in the order they will be studied.
To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.
For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php
Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.
This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.
Home/EU Fee: £260.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00
Dr Erin Nyborg
Erin's doctoral thesis was the first full-length study of representations of masculinity in the Brontë canon, from the early writings of Angria and Gondal to the mature novels and poetry. She is a contributor to the collection Charlotte Brontë from the Beginnings: New Essays from Juvenilia to the Major Works (Routledge, 2017). She is a peer-reviewer for the AHRC-funded postgraduate journal Victorian Network, and has recently presented papers on Charlotte and Emily Brontë’s Belgian essays and on public school education in Charlotte Brontë’s The Professor and Thomas Hughes’s Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
This course aims to introduce or reintroduce participants to the writing of the Brontë sisters and to the cultural, historical, and literary contexts in which they wrote.
- Guided reading of texts
- Guided use of existing websites
- Use of tutor notes and handouts
- Discussions of particular issues and responses to reading in the unit forums
- Close critical analyses of selected extracts from the texts studied
You will understand:
• significant features of the styles and themes of selected work of the three Brontë sisters; significant aspects of the structure, language and other features of the novels and poems studied
• the development of the ‘Brontë myth’ and the ‘Brontë industry’
• ways in which the Brontës’ writing represents and articulates significant contemporary issues and debates
• the position of the Brontë sisters as aspiring authors in the mid-nineteenth century
And you will have developed the following skills:
• enhanced ability to produce close critical analyses of literary texts
• enhanced ability to research and deploy contextual information in the study of literary texts
• the ability to communicate well-supported arguments about the Brontë texts studied
Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.
Level and demands
FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support