English 250

Research Seminar: Victorian Poetry

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2011 Puckett, Kent
Puckett, Kent
W 3-6 104 Dwinelle

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In this course we will approach the literature and culture of the Victorian period through its poetry and poetics. We'll read a lot of both in order to do three related things. First, we'll consider in what terms the idea of the literary as it was embodied in the figure of the poem was understood in nineteenth-century British culture and society. What, we'll ask alongside the Victorian poet, is poetry? Who and what is it for? Why bother writing it instead of something else (a novel, a speech, literary criticism)? Second, we'll work to understand the ways in which an extreme self-consciousness about history, subjectivity, and the relation between the two that characterizes much of this poetry finds various forms in lyrics, ballads, dramatic monologues, verse novels, etc. Third, we'll take our reading of specifically Victorian poetry and poetics as an opportunity to think about more recent trends in poetics; what ways of thinking about poetry have since appeared because of, in spite of, or very decidedly against the Victorians and their poetry? To what degree has an idea (whether true or false) about the Victorians shaped how we read and value poetry today?

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