Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Major British Poets 1660-Present

ENGL 040.301
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12

This is a survey of major British poems with an emphasis upon the period from 1680-1820. We will begin with an introduction to the major poetic genres of the eighteenth- and early-nineteenth centuries, a period encompassing much of neo-classicism and Romanticism. We then will turn more particularly to first-person lyrics of this era. The questions we will pursue include the following: Why is the eighteenth-century considered to be a period of "minor" poetry, and does such a valuation arise from a concept of poetry already shaped by a Romantic sensibility? What issues of description and expression are continuous and discontinuous during this period? How does the cultural work of poetry change? By looking at such changes, what can we learn about the history of poetry as an artistic practice and the history of emotional expression more generally?

Students are expected to attend every class session and to have prepared the reading in advance of our meetings. Each student will be responsible for two short papers of 4-5 pages each: the first provides a close reading of an individual work and the second formulates a concise research problem. Students will also write essays for mid-term and final examinations. These examinations will be constructed within our class sessions and then written outside the classroom with the use of the course texts.