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Romantic Decades: The Regency

ENGL 750.301

As a companion course to the Global 1790s, this seminar will explore that decade of political corruption and artistic growth, the Regency. Whether considered as a period, as a style, or simply as a synonym for a certain kind of self-indulgent luxuriance, the Regency coincided with the years we usually associate with second-generation Romantic writing. It begins in 1811, the year of the publication of Jane Austen's first novel, Sense and Sensibility, when George, Prince of Wales finally succeeded in having his father declared insane and himself instated as ruling monarch of Great Britain. It ended in 1824, the year of Byron's death and of the publication of Mary Shelley's edition of the Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley. These years span a period of sustained and expanding interest in the arts and in literature. With them came some of the best poetry and fiction, and some of the most brilliantly rancorous critical writing in English -- not to mention the political fallout of two decades of war with France that included the advents of communism, trade unionism, Luddism, Owenism, and other radical movements. 

We'll spend a fair amount of time in this course surveying the periodical literature of the 1810s, especially the Edinburgh and Quarterly reviews, The Examiner, and Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. We'll also read selections from the writings and correspondence of Austen, Byron, Coleridge, Edgeworth, Hazlitt, Hogg, Lamb, Keats, Owenson, Scott, Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Southey, and Wordsworth. Our emphasis will be on reading primary texts across the full range of genres, and on individual archival work. Somewhere after its midway point, the course will transform itself into a true seminar, our readings following the interests of each participant as we move through such events as the Peninsular Wars, Waterloo, the Elgin Marbles controversy, Peterloo, and the Queen Caroline case. Assignments will include a presentation, an annotated bibliography, and a final essay. If you have particular suggestions for our reading, please contact me.

Course will meet in Weigle Seminar Room 402, VPL.

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