E 324 • The Divine, the Demonic, and the Utopian in Romantic Literature
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
Will Not Count Toward a Major in English
How can literature bring the supernatural and the ideal down to earth and actually realize them during an age of materialism and unbelief? This course explores that question in two main ways: rhetorically and culturally. Living at the end of the Age of Reason, English poets and novelists of the early nineteenth century understood that their culture had grown too self-conscious and skeptical for the old, traditional forms of belief to carry much credibility. Yet they also knew that there was more to life than science and cold reason could ever recognize. Hence, their dilemma: how to reawaken awareness of powers and presences beyond nature, without simply promoting superstition? Their solution was to use the resources of myth and metaphor to realize the supernatural and the ideal within the mind of the individual reader. Literature would replace religion as a vehicle for first-hand, "miraculous" experience of beings not of this world. This course examines the cultural context of the Gothic Revival of the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century, and examines the many different formal rhetorical devices employed by Romantic-period writers to bring the supernatural down to earth as a realized literary experience.
Two 3-page close-readings of poems to be chosen by me 15% each
Two 5-page essays, on assigned topics 30% each
You will have the opportunity to rewrite two papers.
Contribution to class discussion 10%
ATTENDANCE: Required. I'll allow three absences. You will be expected to participate actively in class discussions.
David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1831 edition, ed. Bloom (Signet)
Blake's Poetry and Designs, ed. Johnson and Grant (Norton)
James Hogg, Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, ed. Hunter (Broadview)
Coleridge's Poetry and Prose, ed. Halmi et al (Norton)
Marilyn Gaull, English Romanticism: The Human Context (Norton)
Selected Poems and Prefaces of Wordsworth, ed. Jack Stillinger (Houghton)