English 335

Literature of the Romantic Period
(section 081) #1523
Spring 2014
T, TH 11:30 AM-12:45
Dumbach Hall 6

In this course we’ll study literature of the British Romantic period (1789-1832), a time of rapid, often violent, political and cultural upheaval: revolution, empire, war, restoration, the parliamentary reform movement, the campaign to abolish slavery, the beginnings of modern feminism. Not surprisingly, many of the literary works that would later come to be seen as part of the Romantic movement were characterized by representations of extreme experience and cultural instability: gothic terror, erotic self-expression, intense sensibility; but also celebrations of the natural, the simple, and the primitive, sometimes as sources of what was “wild” in humanity, and sometimes as alternatives to or refuges from cultural instability. Not everything written during the period was “Romantic” in this sense, and one purpose of the course is to explore the construction of Romanticism as the dominant artistic movement of the age. 


  • in-class presentation: 15%
  • general participation, quizzes: 15%
  • midterm exam: 10%
  • final exam: 15%
  • 8-10 page critical essay: 45%

In this class we’ll practice both close and contextual reading, as well as collaborative discussion and oral presentation. You’ll gain literary and historical knowledge, and write both short-form quizzes and exams and a final critical essay. On academic integrity and the use of sources in your research, see this site.

About your presentations:

Example pechakucha presentation. Searching for images for reuse in Google and on the Creative Commons website. Presentations will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Does it follow the (modified) pechakucha rules* and is it based on some particular passage in the day’s readings?
  • Is the title and presentation effectively focused?
  • Is it coherent (do all the slides hang together effectively)?
  • Have you given it a “story arc” or shape?
  • Is it an effective oral presentation to the class?

* (20 slides X 15 seconds each about a single topic, image-based [make each image fill the screen], illustrating in an interesting way what you’re saying during the presentation.)

About your final critical essay (due 4/24/14):

8-10 pages, double-spaced, on some interesting or problematic detail in a work by an author on our syllabus, but either (1) a work by that author not on the syllabus, or (2) a portion of a longer work we didn’t discuss in class. (See me for special approvals outside these constraints.) Integrate citations from 2-3 critical sources into your own argument. My advice is that you draft your own argument first. Start at Romantic Circles Praxis series but consider as well critical essays published in journals such as Studies in Romanticism, European Romantic Review, The Keats-Shelley Journal, The Wordsworth Circle. MLA style. Digital or paper copy, but you must request confirmation of receipt (from me) for anything delivered via email. I’ll be happy to approve and make suggestions on topic ideas, theses, and drafts, as time allows.


  • The Longman Anthology of British Literature, vol. 2A (5th edn.)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein (Broadview)

This class fulfills the 1700-1900 historical requirement for the English major. Pre-requisites: UCWR 110 and one 200-level English course.


14 Introduction
16 Perspectives: The Rights of Man and the Revolution Controversy (108-138); Coleridge and Southey, The Fall of Robespierre (text of the play only, at Romantic Circles)

21 Blake, Songs of Innocence & of Experience
23 cont’d

28 Blake, The Marriage of Heaven & Hell
30 Perspectives: The Abolition of Slavery and the Slave Trade (229-30; 239-44; 257-58); Obi (Melodrama text, at Romantic Circles)

4 Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman; Polwhele, from The Unsex’d Females
6 Burns, “To a Mouse,”“To a Louse,”“Is there for honest poverty,”“A red, red Rose”; Clare, “Written in November (X2),”“I Am,”“The Mores”

11 Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads
13 cont’d

18 Wordsworth, from The Prelude, from Books 1, 4
20 Wordsworth, “The world is too much with us,””It is a beauteous evening”; “Intimations” ode

25 Perspectives: The Sublime, the Beautiful, and the Picturesque (34-51)
27 Dorothy Wordsworth, “Grasmere–A Fragment,”“Floating Island,”Journals; Barbauld, “On a Lady’s Writing,”“To the Poor,” “Washing Day”; from The Anti-Jacobin, “Friend of Humanity and the Knife-Grinder” (150)


11 Coleridge, “The Eolian Harp,” “This Lime Tree Bower My Prison,””Frost at Midnight”
13 Coleridge, Christabel, “Kubla Khan”
[midterm exam]

18 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein
20 cont’d

25 Byron, “She walks in beauty,”“Prometheus,”“Darkness”
27 Byron, Don Juan, Dedication, Canto I

1 Shelley, “To Wordsworth,”“Hymn to Intellectual Beauty,”“Mont Blanc”
3 Shelley, “Ozymandias,””England in 1819,” The Mask of Anarchy

8 “Ode to the West Wind,”“Adonais”
10 Keats, “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer,”“On Seeing the Elgin Marbles,”“When I have fears,”“This living hand”

15 Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale,”“Ode on a Grecian Urn,” “To Autumn”
17 Keats, “The Eve of St, Agnes,”“The Fall of Hyperion”

22 Smith, from Elegaic Sonnets
24 Hemans, “Casabianca,”“Indian Woman’s Death Song;” Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, “The Mourner” (at Romantic Circles)
[critical essay due]

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