Victorian Christmas: Merry Christmas one and all!

My Victorian Vision class have just finished undertaking their final online session of the term and course.  Our final class was on Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) in particular, and Sensation Fiction in general.  But the final online session of the term exploits the Victorians’ innovations in relation to the season of Christmas.

Ill London News Cover

Illustrated London News cover, December 1845.

 Once again the class enter the Forum ‘in character’ as they did in ‘The Dickens Debate’ (see The Dickens Debate post on November 23rd)…but this time they can be any character from any work, or author of any work we have studied.  This means we’ve had Robert Audley, George Talboys, older and younger Cathys from Wuthering Heights, Esther, John Thornton, Margaret Thornton, Eulalie from Webster’s ‘A Castaway’ and the Lady of Shalott, amongst others, all telling each other what they are getting up to over Christmas.  To help them do this the class are given links to websites detailing Victorian traditions and customs (such as the first Christmas cards, and decorating Christmas trees).

Once again this exercise works on good character understanding and role play skills.  Wit, imagination and flair are positively encouraged, and some posts have been full of humour.  I also say that students may enter the forum in the guise of an author whom we have studied.  Usually no one much takes notice of this but this year we’ve had Dickens, Lizzie Siddall, Emily Bronte…AND William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti posting entirely in poetry!  ‘Being’ an author is more difficult to pull off than being a character I think, as to be convincing there obviously needs to be some knowledge of the author’s life in play, but it’s all part of the general unpredictability of any given cohort in a discussion forum.  It’s always the case that with each new year a different cohort comes up with something new in my online activities that no previous class has ever quite done.

And so The Victorian Vision Online comes to an end for 2009.  I’ll be marking what they’ve posted in due course, but time for some turkey and plum pudding first!

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