Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

British Poetry 1660-1914

ENGL 040.301
TR 10:30-12pm

This course will introduce you to poems written primarily by British poets between the end of the Civil Wars (1660) and the end of the First World War (1918). During this period, poets of all backgrounds forged a veritable literary tradition which continues to shape Anglophone poetry and its interpretation today. We will discuss the different rhetorical features of their craft, and we will pay particular attention to how poets understood their roles as contributors to, and occasional critics of, a rapidly developing British nation and empire. Beginning with a survey of popular poetic forms and modes, we will then examine representative engagements with authority, aesthetics, gender, labor, modernity, religion, and slavery across the centuries. Through readings, discussion, and regular assignments, we will reflect on the ever-changing relationship between poetic form and function, as well as the uses and misuses of poetic “convention” and “tradition.”

Major poets for our course will include: John Milton, John Dryden, Anne Finch, Alexander Pope, Thomas Gray, Phillis Wheatley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Toru Dutt, and W. B. Yeats. Course requirements include regular reading responses, a creative “translation” of a poem, two papers, and a take-home final exam or creative project. No prior knowledge of the period or its poetry is required to take this course.

NB: For the fall 2020 semester, this course will be conducted remotely (via Zoom) due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Please feel free to contact the instructor with any questions.




fulfills requirements