English 100

Junior Seminar: Wordsworth Circle


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
13 Spring 2007 Francois, Anne-Lise
Francois, Anne-Lise
TTh 3:30-5 106 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

De Quincey, T.: Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and Other Writings and Recollections of the Lakes and the Lake Poets; Coleridge, S.T.: The Major Works; Wordsworth, D.: The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals; Wordsworth, W. & S.T. Coleridge: Lyrical Ballads; Wordsworth, W.: The Prelude 1799, 1805, 1850

Description

This class presents an intensive study of a group of writers and circle of friends: William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Thomas de Quincey. As we read these writers? poetry, journals, letters, essays, and memoirs, we will use the metaphor of the ?circle? and its sometimes vicious variants?circularity, circulation, cycles, revolutions, rings, enclosures, ?spots of time??to examine the relation between literary and social experimentation during an age of national reform, international revolution, industrialization and rural dislocation, Napoleonic wars, and the rise of the British Empire. If this course advertisement were a trailer for Julien Temple?s 2001 Pandemonium (which we will view), now I might name ?hot? topics like brother-sister incest, French affairs, love triangles, and opium addiction, and then rattle off the following character blurbs: the stuffy once-revolutionary-turned-establishment poet (the villain); his long-suffering, nature-loving sister condemned to live in his shadow and whose journals he plundered for poems (the girl); their wild, drug-addicted friend who ?failed? the more the established poet succeeded (the hero) and the younger writer/opium-eater who took notes on them all (the film-maker himself). Ok, so it?s not that good a trailer, but my hope is that our discussions will be more exciting because more complex. We will address the nature of conversations, collaborations and competitions between writers, questions of literary property, theft and echo, the dynamics of inclusion, exclusion and betrayal, the rhythms of hope and disappointment, and figures of ?borderers? living on the ?edges? (whether between ?animal? and ?human,? ?nature? and non-nature, intoxication and ?reason,? or pre- and post-modern ways of life), as these topics inform what should interest us most about these writers?what they did with words.


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