English 121

The Romantic Period: Romantic Voices

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2021 Langan, Celeste
MWF 11-12


"Thou hast a voice, great Mountain, to repeal/ Large codes of fraud and woe..." --P.B. Shelley, "Mont Blanc"

Romanticism has long been identified with democratic revolutions of the late 18th century, with the social demand that every citizen have a “voice” in the constitution of community and law.  In this survey of literature of the Romantic period, we’ll consider how “voice” gets represented, and to what ends.  Whose voices get heard, and who is spoken about?  What does it mean to speak before the law? How do human voices get heard or silenced in the context of the “voices” of nature (particularly birds and cataracts), of the state, and of conscience? How do verbal forms of repetition (rhyme, refrain, parody, quotation) work to disrupt or reinforce authority? Against the background of the treason trials and Gagging Acts of the 1790s and the Peterloo massacre of 1819,  we will read novels, poems, and dramas in which voice emerges to contest formal and informal laws--from vagrancy, slavery and other forms of “property” law to genre, grammar, and other conventions regulating “voice."

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