Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Mark of the Beast: Animals in Literature from the 1780s to the 1920a
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Assignment One  1 x 2,500 word single text essay  40%
Semester Assessment Assignment Two  1 x 3,000 word comparative essay  60%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit Failed Element Assessment One  1 x 2,500 word single text essay  40%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit Failed Element Assessment Two  1 x 3,000 word comparative essay  60%

Learning Outcomes

Demonstrate a critical understanding of the generic, historical, cultural and scientific contexts that shapes the texts studies on the module.

Engage with and evaluate theoretical and critical debates on the representation of animals in nineteenth-century literature.

Produce critical work that engages in close textual analysis, employs relevant critical approaches, and makes reference to contemporary contexts and sources.

Demonstrate enhanced skills of independent thought, research, and argument.

Demonstrate an ability to compare different texts on a related theme and draw wider conclusions about the role of animals in nineteenth-century literature.


This module is part of a suite of option modules designed to deliver the 1800-1900 literature element of the degree scheme. It also includes some pre-1800 and post-1900 texts. The module is designed to introduce students to a variety of literature in different genres by canonical and non-canonical authors, and to encourage them to take a comparative approach to the representation of related themes in different texts. The focus on historical context and the engagement with extracts from key non-fiction texts alongside the literary texts may make this module of particular interest to students taking joint honours English Literature and History

Brief description

The relationship between the human and animal worlds was a significant theme in literature from the long nineteenth century. This period saw the emergence of an organised movement for animal rights and the founding of the RSPCA. It was during the nineteenth century that Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) and Descent of Man (1871) challenged the idea of human beings as separate from the rest of the animal world. Many of the key themes of the nineteenth century, such as empire, gender and evolution, were explored through literature about animals. Through the study of a diverse range of literature, including children’s literature, detective fiction, comic poetry and science fiction, this module will examine the ways in which literature about animals was used to explore what it means to be human.


Week 1: Introduction: Selection of primary and secondary sources.

Week 2: Animal Poetry: Selected poetry by poets including William Blake, John Clare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Michael Field and D.H. Lawrence

Week 3: Didactic Animals: A selection of short fables for children from Mary Wollstonecraft's Original Stories from Real Life (1788), John Aikin and Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s Evenings at Home (1792-1796), and Margaret Gatty’s Parables of Nature (1855)

Week 4: Animal Rights: Anna Sewell, Black Beauty (1877), selected contextual material

Week 5: Animal Rights and Women’s Rights: George Egerton, ‘A Shadow’s Slant’ from Keynotes (1893), Mary Cholmondeley, ‘The Goldfish’ from The Romance of His Life: and Other Romances (1922), Frances Power Cobbe, ‘Wife-Torture in England’ (1878)

Week 6: Poetry and Evolution: Selected poems by poets including Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Edward Lear, Mathilde Blind, Constance Naden and May Kendall. Excerpts from works by Charles Darwin and his contemporaries

Week 7: Animals and Empire: Rudyard Kipling, ‘The Mark of the Beast’ from Life’s Handicap (1891), selected stories from The Jungle Books (1894-5)

Week 8: Demonic Animals: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)

Week 9: Beast Folk: H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896)

Week 10: Humans and Other Animals: Selected short stories by Saki (Hector Munro) (1912-1914). Module conclusion

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication in the form of essays, oral communication in seminar discussion.
Improving own Learning and Performance Developing own research skills, management of time, expression and use of language
Information Technology Use of electronic resources (JSTOR, websites); use of databases of digitized newspapers and periodicals; the production of written work
Personal Development and Career planning By critical reflection and the development of transferable communication skills
Problem solving Formulating and developing extended arguments.
Research skills By relating literary texts to historical contexts and theoretical commentaries, and by synthesizing various persepctives in an evaluative argument.
Subject Specific Skills Detailed critical and contextual analysis of literary texts and evaluation of the theoretical concepts.
Team work Carrying out collaborative tasks within seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 6