English 471

(Section 803)
Poetry of the Romantic Period
Fall 2015
T, 7:00-9:30 PM
Mundelein Center 617
“Romantic poetry, textual materialties”

In this graduate seminar we’ll read romantic poetry, along with selected criticism and theory, with a focus on textual materialities. Orrin Wang has pointed out that Jerome McGann’s “fifteen-year-long development of a theory of textual materiality” can be seen as “the ‘positive’ reading of literature which should ‘follow’ the negative critique that The Romantic Ideology carries out against Romanticism’s idealist mystifications” (2000, 83). A philological attention to the cultural history of textual forms and versions originated with the romantic poets themselves. Studying the production, transmission, and reception of embodied texts reveals varieties of immanence, materiality, and object-oriented awareness that are often in (literally) productive tension with the well-known romantic tendencies toward transcendence and otherworldliness.

Requirements for the class are (1) a seminar paper, due on the scheduled final exam date but presented as in progress in class on Dec. 1; and (2) leading two class discussions, each prompted by a micro-presentation,* for each of which you’ll sign up in advance and prepare by researching and “thickening” a particular textual history.

We’ll be using as a base text the Longman Anthology of British Literature: the Romantics and Their Contemporaries, as well as one shared author-specific edition, the Norton Critical Edition of Shelley’s Poetry and Prose. Other readings will be on reserve or discovered by you in your research and preparation.


25 Introductions

1 Blake, Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Visions of the Daughters of AlbionMarriage of Heaven & HellThe Book of Urizen, Laocoön; McGann, “Reflections on Textual and Documentary Media” 

8 Curran, “Sonnet” (reserve); Smith, from Elegiac Sonnets and Other Poems; Williams, “To Sensibility”; Wordsworth, “On Seeing . . . “; Hemans; Keepsake for 1829

15 Levy, “Do Women Have a Book History?” ; Pascoe selections (reserve); Robinson, from Sappho and Phaon, “The Haunted Beach”

22 St. Clair selections (chapters 1, 2, 9, 20, skim appendix 7; reserve); Coleridge, “Eolian Harp,” conversation poems, “Dejection: an Ode,” “Kubla Khan,” “Rime of the Ancyent Marinere”

29 Burns (all); Wordsworth, from Lyrical Ballads 1800, sonnets

13 Wordsworth, Intimations Ode, from The Prelude

20 St. Clair, selections (add e.g. chpt. 16; Appendix II, 682-91; on reserve); Byron, “She Walks in Beauty,” “So we’ll go no more a roving,” from Childe Harold III, from Don Juan (anthology and sample the whole online), “Stanzas” (“When a man hath no freedom”), “On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year”

27 McGann, The Romantic Ideology selections (esp. Intro., chapters 11-13), A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism selections (esp.  chapters 3, 7) (on reserve); Shelley, “To Wordsworth,””Mont Blanc,””Hymn to Intellectual Beauty,””Ozymandias,””England in 1819,””The Mask of Anarchy,””Ode to the West Wind” (compare editions for selected works and passages)

3 Fraistat, The Poem and the Book selections (chapter 5; sample chapter 1; on reserve); Shelley selections cont’d, Prometheus Unbound, “The Triumph of Life”

10 Harpham, The Humanities and the Dream of America (chpt. 2); Shelley, “Adonais;” Keats (all)

17 McGann, A New Republic of Letters selections(esp. introduction, chapeters 2, 3); Keats cont’d

24 Barbauld, (all, incl. “Epistle to William Wilberforce”); Cowper, “Sweet Meat has Sour Sauce;” Southey, from Poems Concerning the Slave Trade; Obi (online)

1 presentations of papers in progress

* micro-presentations = 5 slides or fewer, mostly images, presented in 15 minutes or less, followed by a class discussion led by you.