English 250

Research Seminar: Wordsworth and Coleridge in Collaboration

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2017 Goodman, Kevis
M 3-6 102 Barrows

Book List

Coleridge, S. T.: The Major Works, Including Biographia Literaria (Oxford); Wordsworth, W.: The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850 (Norton Critical Edition); Wordsworth, W., and S. T. Coleridge: Lyrical Ballads, 1798 and 1800 (Routledge);

Recommended: Wordsworth, W. (ed. Richard Matlack): Poems in Two Volumes (Broadview)

Other Readings and Media

A course reader


This class will study the major poetry and prose that emerged from the remarkable literary collaboration and conflict between William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, including their jointly produced Lyrical Ballads (1798 and 1800), Coleridge’s “Conversation” poems, Wordsworth’s The Prelude (1799 and 1805 versions), Poems of 1807, and The Excursion (in part), as well as the entirety of Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria. We will devote some of our time to questions raised by the complexity of collaborative authorship itself: matters of property and possession, conversation and miscommunication, influence, ventriloquism, and plagiarism. At the same time, we will use this pair to consider and contextualize what it meant to say – as Wordsworth did in 1800 – that “Poetry is the history or science of feelings.” How are we to understand this “science of feelings” both in relation to the eighteenth-century “science of man” (largely Scottish) and the “science of sensate cognition,” which, in Germany, had recently been named “aesthetic”? The other aspect of Wordsworth’s phrase, the “history” of feelings, will command our attention as well, in a number of overlapping manifestations: the feelings’ own history (both personal and public); the historical events that put exceptional pressure on the emotions and their display during the decades of the French Revolution, counter-revolutionary response in Britain, and Napoleonic wars; and, above all, both writers’ ways of registering and recording the historical present of modernity as it unfolded in the body and in literary form. While the primary texts will remain primary, this class will also give you a chance to sample the waves of extraordinary criticism generated about these two figures, work that has not merely persisted but has flourished and renewed itself through a succession of currents: phenomenology, deconstruction, new historicism, materialisms old and new, affect theory, science studies, and a good bit more. For quite unlike-minded readers, Wordsworth and Coleridge have proved good to think with for some time.

This course satisfies the Group 4 (Nineteenth Century) requirement.

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