Although we often think of reading and writing poetry as a kind of withdrawal from the world, there is in fact a longstanding tradition of poetic engagement with contemporary controversies. Poetry both reflects and effects social change. British poets of the period from the restoration of the monarchy to the outbreak of the first World War insinuated themselves and their work into debates over kingship and democracy, wars and revolutions, empire-building and the slave trade, domesticity and sexuality, the place of women and the treatment of the poor. In this course we will examine a wide range of major poets and read closely their interventions into the issues of the day. While tracing the politics of poetry and the poetry of politics, we will pay close attention to both historical context and developments in poetic form and meter. Featured poets will likely include Andrew Marvell, John Dryden, Jonathan Swift, Anne Finch, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, Thomas Gray, Charlotte Smith, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, the Brownings, Rudyard Kipling, and Oscar Wilde. Grading will be based on midterm and final exams, one short paper and one longer paper, and robust participation.