English 121

Romantic Period

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2010 Goldsmith, Steven
Goldsmith, Steven
TTh 9:30-11 56 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

Austen, J: Sense and Sensibility; De Quincey, T: Confessions of an English Opium-Eater; Godwin, W: Caleb Williams; Shelley, M: Frankenstein; Blake, W: Blake's Poetry and Designs; Wordsworth, W: The Prelude; Byron, GG: Major Works; Wordsworth, Coleridge, W, ST: Lyrical Ballads; Keats, J: Keats's Poetry and Prose; Shelley, P: Shelley's Poetry and Prose


Romanticism is a term as difficult to define as it is persistent. We will read British Romanticism as a set of diverse, sometimes contradictory responses to an overarching question: what is the role of literature in a rapidly modernizing world? British Romantic writers had no choice but to locate their ambitions in relation to the period’s revolutionary and secularizing movements; nearly twenty years of continuous war between England and France; the reorganization of the economy, including the specialization of knowledge and the division, alienation, and mechanization of labor; a book market and print culture that placed authors at a distance from anonymous readers; large scale urbanization and the development of mass commercial media; the ascent of England as an international power, with imperial interests at home (the Act of Union) and abroad. As fundamental terms found themselves subject to redefinition (“poetry,” “nature,” “work,” “society,” even what it means to be “human”), Romantic writers struggled to define the relevance of literature in ways that continue to resonate in literary production today. Students will write two essays and take a final exam.

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