The Romantic period (roughly 1775-1848) saw decades of tremendous strife and change. It also witnessed four important revolutions—American, French, Haitian and Industrial—which rocked the British worldview and inspired a kind of second renaissance in British poetry, drama, and fiction. Through the works of Austen, Byron, Keats, Mary and Percy Shelley, William Wordsworth, and others, readers came across bold ideas and new anxieties about tyranny, democracy, economics, celebrity, and the increasing power over public opinion wielded by the authors they read. In this course we'll read the best of these works, asking ourselves How can such a tumultuous time give rise to a new understanding of modernity? How can inhabiting this emerging modernity help us to understand our own?
Assignments will include a short close reading, a presentation, and a final paper.