George Eliot's Middlemarch


“We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time” (Middlemarch).

George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871-2), according to Virginia Woolf, is “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people” (TLS 1919).  The course explores and examines this remarkable novel in detail, including such “grown-up” themes as the role of women, marriage, hypocrisy, money, political reform, crises of faith, thwarted ambition, and the anxiety of progress.  Contextualising the novel by considering Eliot’s life and her Victorian times, the course also closely analyses Eliot’s writing style and literary techniques.

Programme details

Session 1

Introduction & Context I:  Eliot’s biography

Session 2

Context II:  Historical & political

Session 3

Character I:  Dorothea Brooke

Session 4

Character II:  Tertius Lydgate

Session 5

Style I:  Narrative voice

Session 6

Style II:  Structure & form

Session 7

Themes I:  Role of women & marriage

Session 8

Themes II:  Progress

Session 9

Themes III:  Money

Session 10

Themes IV:  Integrity & hypocrisy

Session 11

Themes V:  Faith

Session 12



Description Costs
Programme Fee (No Accommodation - inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner) £850.00
Programme Fee (Standard Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1485.00
Programme Fee (Standard Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1245.00
Programme Fee (Superior Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1600.00
Programme Fee (Superior Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1345.00


Dr Octavia Cox


Dr Octavia Cox completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford, has taught and lectured at the University of Oxford, the University of Nottingham, and elsewhere, and has published various peer-reviewed chapters and articles.  Her first monograph, Alexander Pope in the Romantic Age, is forthcoming.  She is currently researching a book provisionally titled Jane Austen and Counter-Genre.

Course aims

This course aims to give students a fuller understanding and appreciation of Eliot’s Middlemarch.

Teaching methods

All summer school courses are taught through group seminars and individual tutorials. Students also conduct private study when not in class and there is a well stocked library at OUDCE to support individual research needs.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be expected to:

  • Have developed knowledge of and insight into Eliot’s writing style and literary techniques.
  • Have exercised skills of close-reading and textual analysis.  
  • Have an understanding of Eliot’s life and contexts, and how these affect her novel Middlemarch.
  • Have enjoyed discussing and examining Middlemarch!

Assessment methods

Students are assessed during the summer school by either a 1500 word written assignment or a presentation supported by individual documentation. To successfully gain credit (10 CATS points) students should attend all classes and complete the on-course assignment. There is also a pre-course assignment of 1000 words set. Although this does not count towards credit, it is seen as an important way of developing a student's ideas and therefore its completion is mandatory.