English 203

Graduate Readings: Discursive Identities in British Romanticism

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2012 Bode, Christoph
Bode, Christoph
TTh 2-3:30 202 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

William Wordsworth: The Prelude (1805 version); Samuel Taylor Coleridge: "Frost at Midnightand other poems, Biographia Literaria; George Gordon, Lord Byron: Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Don Juan; P.B. Shelley: "On Life," A Defence of Poetry, The Triumph of Life; John Keats: Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Lamia, the Odes of 1819, the letters that are reprinted in The Norton Anthology of English Literature; Charlotte Smith: Elegiac Sonnets, Beachy Head


The Romantic Age is arguably the first age in which we see systematic attempts at deriving the self from itself, at constructing an identity through the discourse that is produced by a subject, which, however, is itself seen as the product of that same discourse. Inevitably, such attempts must end in paradoxes, non sequiturs, and infinite regresses. But the different ways in which they do this can be highly illuminating, especially so if this happens in poetry and other self-referential texts that do not try to hide their own paradoxicality, but rather exhibit and foreground it. We will look at different manifestations of this urge to ground the self in itself (or the desire to transcend or negate the self), but we will also take other matters into account, such as the role of Romantic irony or the extent to which narration is a basic prerequisite for the discursive production of (the illusion of) identity.

This course satisfies the 19th-century historical breadth requirement.

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