Romantic thought and expression. The second generation including Byron, Keats, Mary and Percy Shelley. Junior standing required.
British Romantic Writers
This course will be a sustained examination of the question: “What is Romanticism? This is a question which has no single or ultimate answer given that there seem to be as many answers as there are “askers.” There is, however, a rich and complex body of literature and critical commentary to which we assign the adjective “Romantic.” I’ve organized our readings of some of the principal writers of the period thematically rather than chronologically. I believe this offers us a better way to explore in a single term the conceptual issues posed by these texts and their resonance in subsequent periods. Our principal project will be the close reading and discussion of some of the most important and influential texts within that “tradition,” from William Blake through Emily Bronte. We will consider the various historical, biographical, philosophical, political, and aesthetic contexts of British Romantic literature, but our primary focus will be on the texts themselves and on the cultural and theoretical responses to Romanticism.
Romantic writers posed many of the questions we now consider as essential to our contemporary conceptions of “theory”: what is the relationship between the subject and the object, considered linguistically or as a relationship between the individual self and the natural world? What is the relationship between literature and history? Or literature and politics? How does Romantic literature conceive of “otherness” and what is its relationship to gender or to race? Does poetic language make meanings and produce affects or does it express them? What is the relationship between literature and the non-human world? We will ask these questions in the idiom of the Romantic texts we read; and we will explore their implications with secondary readings by Walter Benjamin, Paul de Man, Gayatri Spivak, Franco Moretti, Gilles Deleuze, and other prominent theorists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
Theory/Rhetoric courses teach media theory, the major modes and schools of criticism and theory, and theories and techniques of reasoning, rational discourse, and argumentation.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.