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The Romantic Period

ENGL 050.001
instructor(s):
MW 3:30-5

The Romantic period witnessed a blossoming of historical consciousness, a newly awakened sense of the importance of the past to both the immediate present and the hoped-for future. From Wordsworth's probing into his past selves to Scott's gothic mansion filled with ancient relics, looking back was a quintessential Romantic activity. In its many forms—historical novels, lyric meditations on childhood, fraudulent collections of ancient British poetry, essays devoted to selective remembering and forgetting, invocations of all things classical, and romances infused with nostalgia—an engagement with the past saturated period's literature. This survey will take up a selection of canonical and lesser known works to map the effect of thinking historically on literary writing. We will explore how literary authors used and abused the "facts" of history, how they envisioned and created personal, national, and global pasts, and where their reflections on history, memory, and subjectivity converge. Readings will likely include novels by Maria Edgeworth, Walter Scott, and Jane Austen, plays by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Joanna Baillie, poetry by William Wordsworth, John Keats, Charlotte Smith, Percy Shelley, and William Blake, and essays by Charles Lamb and William Hazlitt. Course requirements: one presentation, two essays, final exam, and sprightly participation in class discussions.