English 121

The Romantic Period

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2013 Savarese, John L.
Savarese, John
MWF 10-11 166 Barrows

Book List

Austen, J.: Persuasion; Damrosch, D.: Longman Anthology of British Literature, Vol. 2A: The Romantics and Their Contemporaries (Fifth Edition)


This course will examine the Romantic movement in Britain, a movement often described as an outgrowth of the “Age of Revolution.” From the hopes for the French Republic to the “revolution in poetic language” attempted in Lyrical Ballads, the “first generation” of Romantic writers often framed their ambitions in terms of the transformative power of the imagination. After examining the transformative imagination in its social and political dimensions (like the poets Coleridge and Southey’s scheme to found an experimental utopian community in America), we will turn to various critiques of Romanticism that emerged from a younger “second generation,” who criticized their predecessors for abandoning their earlier, revolutionary ambitions. This interrogation of Romanticism endures in recent scholarship’s continuing challenges to Romantic ideologies and canons. We will focus on two such challenges: first, while the Romantic movement was traditionally understood in terms of six male poets, that canon has been augmented by the recovery of female writers. Second, it is becoming increasingly clear that the “inward” model of literature typically associated with Romanticism—where works are produced by the poet’s transfiguring imagination and read in private by individual readers—emerged within a wider and more diverse field of “popular” literary culture, including the turn to popular, communal song known as the “ballad revival.” To stake out this wider territory, we will consider rural and working-class poets like Burns, Clare, and Hogg. Many such authors were also collectors of local, orally-transmitted, “traditional” songs, which we will both read and hear.

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