English 100

The Seminar on Criticism: Victorian Versification

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
7 Fall 2021 Hanson, Kristin
TTh 5-6:30 124 Wheeler

Book List

Houghton, Walter E. and G. Robert Stange (eds.): Victorian Poetry and Poetics, 2nd ed.

Other Readings and Media






The Victorian period (1837-1901) is striking for social, political, economic, technical and scientific developments that seem at once old-fashioned and recognizably modern.  Its poets’ engagements with traditional forms of English versification -- especially meter, rhyme and alliteration -- make a similar impression.  From Tennyson's renowned mastery through Browning's dramatic innovations and the "dangerously sensual" practice of Swinburne to Hopkins' influential invention of "Sprung Rhythm", the period saw tradition and experiment in constant interaction.  It saw rediscovery of early English poetic heritage, reconstructions of Classical meters in English, recognition of women poets, interest in dialect poetry, encounters with verse forms of other languages throughout the world, parodies of traditional English verse forms, and a flourishing if eccentric subculture of commentary and criticism from Arnold to  Saintsbury.  This course will offer an introduction to English verse forms as used and developed in Victorian poets’ practices, in relation to broader interests of these poets.  As a seminar in criticism, the goal will be to train students in how to integrate observations about verse form with other literary considerations.  Three papers -- probably 4pp., 6 pp. and 8pp. -- will be required.  No background in versification is required. 


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