English 250

Research Seminars: Wordsworth and Coleridge in Collaboration: Poetry, Human Science, & Romantic Aesthetics

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Spring 2010 Goodman, Kevis
Goodman, Kevis
F 10:30-1:30 301 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Coleridge, S. T.: The Major Works; Wordsworth, W.: The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850; Wordsworth., W: The Major Works; Brett and Jones, ed.: Wordsworth and Coleridge: Lyrical Ballads 1798, 1800; Burke, E.: A Philosophical Enquiry; Course Reader

Recommended: Hume, D.: A Treatise of Human Nature; Smith, A.: The Theory of Moral Sentiments; Williams, R.: Keywords


This course will offer an intensive reading of the major poetry and prose written by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whose remarkable literary collaboration, friendship, and conflict (should) dispel old truisms about the solitary Romantic genius or lonely creative imagination. We will devote some of our time to questions raised by the complexity of collaborative authorship itself: matters of property and possession, influence, conversation and aversion, 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 ambition in relation to the Scottish “science of man,” i.e., the powerful systems of human nature charted during the eighteenth century by David Hume, Adam Smith, Lord Kames, and others? Where does it stand in relation to the “science of sensate cognition,” (then) only recently dubbed “aesthetic” on the continent? The other keyword in Wordsworth’s phrase, “history,” merits equal attention in a number of manifest or residual forms: the history of ideas about feeling, the feelings’ own history, and the historical events (the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars) that gathered and galvanized the subject and exercise of emotion in Britain during the decade before and after 1800.

In addition to reading the primary texts assigned—Wordsworth and Coleridge, plus selections from Hume, Smith, Kames, Kant, Burke, Erasmus Darwin, Dorothy Wordsworth and others—you should come out of this class with an overview of major contributions to the massive amount of superb scholarship, recent and not-so-recent, on these two poets.

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