English 121

The Romantic Period

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2009 Langan, Celeste
Langan, Celeste
MWF 11-12 170 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

Perkins, D.: English Romantic Writers; Shelley, M.: Frankenstein; Shelley, P.B.: The Cenci; a Course Reader


The word ‘romantic’ has come to mean so many things that, by itself, it has ceased to perform the function of a verbal sign.”  --Arthur O. Lovejoy

This course will look with wild surmise at the phenomenon of Romanticism.  Is it true, as some critics have claimed, that Romantic writers “invent” the modern concept of literature?  What is the relation between Romantic literature and the signal historical and social events of the period:  the political revolutions of the late eighteenth century, the early industrial revolution, the proliferation of print?  Do Romantic writers turn to poetry in order to evoke nostalgia for the past or to forge an aesthetic avant-garde?  Through extensive reading of the major figures—Blake, Coleridge, the Wordsworths, the Shelleys, Byron, and Keats—we may not achieve an adequate definition of the word ‘romantic,’ but we will examine the Romantic word.  Why are Romantic writers so interested in the origins of language, and why are so many of their major poems unfinished?  We’ll begin with Rousseau’s representation of the (first) word as a gasp of surprise by which the speaking subject responds to the unfamiliar, and consider the poetry and prose of the major writers in the context of Shelley’s argument that “every author of a revolution in opinions is a poet.” 

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Back to Semester List