This course examines the flourishing of literary activity often described as the “Romantic Era,” a period following the American and French Revolutions in which poets and novelists wrote about, drew upon, and ridiculed what we might call the language of the heart. The Romantics populated their literary creations with dark, brooding protagonists and plucky heroines; they pushed the limits of conventional morality; they stole popular forms for their “lyrical ballads” and imagined epic heroes in search of themselves. We will look at a number of classic texts from the period, among them poems, essays, and works of fiction by authors such as Burke, Wollstonecraft, Barbauld, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, Hemans, and the Shelleys. Paying close attention to questions of formal tradition and innovation, and keeping our eye to the broad literary-historical question of how (or whether) the rubric “Romanticism” is appropriate for these authors, we will assess literary responses to imperial expansion, the democratic revolutions, the persistence of the slave trade, state censorship, early feminist discourses, and emerging political discourses that championed the rights of common men and women. Course requirements include weekly responses, midterm and final papers, and a final exam.