English 100

Junior Seminar: Victorian Prosody

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Spring 2005 Hanson, Kristin
Hanson, Kristin
TTh 3:30-5 109 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Houghton, W.: Victorian Poetry and Poetics


The age of Victorian poetry was an age of great metrical experimentation and achievement. From Tennyson's renowned 'exquisite' versifying through Browning's innovative dramatic iambic pentameter to Hopkins' 'Sprung Rhythm' which so transformed the modern poetic landscape, the period also saw experiments in dialect poetry, the first tentative interest in the Anglo-Saxon poetic heritage, resurgent interest in the possibility of reconstructing Classical meters in English, the 'dangerously sensual' practice of Swinburne and his interest in Continental poets, a new recognition of women poets, and the development of a flourishing curious subculture of eccentric metrists like Saintsbury and of verse parodists like Lear and Carroll. In this course we will study closely the metrical technique of four major poets of the period -- Tennyson, Browning, Swinburne, and Hopkins -- and consider how their metrical practice relates to broader cultural questions of the period of the role of the poet in society and of English in the world. No background in metrics is required -- we will begin with an introduction to meter and to the tradition which these poets inherited.

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