English 40 is a core course for English majors. The class covers major British poets and poetic movements from Milton to Modernism and will provide all students with a good introduction to this huge and important field of literary production. Besides this survey, English 40 has two other purposes: to help you become a better close reader of modern poetry and to help you synthesize your close critical analysis with the fruits of your own scholarly research.
The class will begin with a sampling of key 17th and 18th century poetic genres, beginning with the lyric. We will later go on to discuss two important literary movements-neo-classicism and Romanticism-asking whether our experiences of individual poets and poems live up to the generalizations made by critics and manifesto-writers. Our study of 19th century poets will engage with the radical political history of this century of industry, empire and democratization. As we turn to the 20th century, we will focus on two moments of cultural and historical change: the decadent "fin de siecle" of the 1890s-1900s and the equally controversial 1960s.
We will read poems by many authors, both famous and otherwise, including: Andrew Marvell, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, William Cowper, Charlotte Smith, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelley, William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett, Robert Browning, Christina Rosetti, George Meredith, Matthew Arnold, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Hugh MacDiarmid and Basil Bunting. Written work will include three short critical papers, a longer paper incorporating your own research, and a final exam.