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Inventing British Literature, 1700-1900

ENGL 202.301
TR 3-4:30

Back in the early nineteenth century, the famous reviewer and critic Francis Jeffrey wrote in The Edinburgh Review that there were "not thirty [poets] whose works are to be found in the hands of ordinary readers--in the shops of ordinary booksellers--or in the press for republication" (Contributions to the Edinburgh Review 289).  At that time, Jeffrey joked about wanting to stop the production of the poets and the presses, if only for a decade, so that he could direct his readers to the vast amount of good British poetry, either neglected or forgotten, that he did not want to see die.  Therefore, in this course, we will do our best to do the impossible:  sample British poetry from 1710 to 1990 in our own Grand Tour that hopefully will achieve an understanding even about the authors that we will not have time to read.  We will do so by looking into a tradition of poetry--that of landscape--that will allow us to see how present poet revise and draw from their predecessors. Understanding the various topographies of British poetry, furthermore, will allow us to examine how it constructs psychological and political landscapes as well.  The tentative list of poets for this course (subject to change) will be Anne Finch, Alexander Pope, James Thomson, Charlotte Smith, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Mary Robinson, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, John Keats, Felicia Hemans, Lord Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, Robert Browning, Thomas Hardy, T. S. Eliot (an American living in England), Ted Hughes, and Sylvia Plath (another American living in England).  The required work for this course will be a short and long paper (with annotated bibliography) graded in an end-of-semester portfolio, a set of final examination questions, and a comprehensive final.

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