Module Information

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

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Assignment  comprising Section A: 1,500-word single-text question, and Section B: 2,500-word comparative essay. 4000 Words  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resit Assignment  comprising Section A: 1,500-word single-text question, and Section B: 2,500-word comparative essay. 4000 Words  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

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

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

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

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

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, love 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.


Session 1: Introduction: Selection of primary and secondary sources.
Session 2: 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).
Session 3: Black Beauty 1: Anna Sewell, Black Beauty (1877).
Session 4: Black Beauty 2: Anna Sewell, Black Beauty (1877), selected contextual material.
Session 5: Animals and Empire: Rudyard Kipling, ‘The Mark of the Beast’ from Life’s Handicap (1891), selected stories from The Jungle Books (1894-5).
Session 6: The Pet: Selected short texts by writers including Anne Brontë, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Matthew Arnold, Christina Rossetti, Michael Field and Saki.
Session 7: Animal Rights and Women’s Rights: George Egerton, ‘A Shadow’s Slant’ from Keynotes (1893) and Mary Cholmondeley, ‘The Goldfish’ from The Romance of His Life: and Other Romances (1922).
Session 8: Demonic Animals: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902).
Session 9: Beast Folk: H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896).
Session 10: Doctor Moreau 2/ Module Round-Up: Concluding discussion of The Island of Doctor Moreau. Review of the module and preparation for assessment.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
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