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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2008


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35745 MW
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
BEN 1.118

Course Description

Romantic Authorships This introductory course examines different representative concepts of authorship and inspiration during the Romantic period in Britain, paying particular attention to the course of the French Revolution and its aftermath. We will examine the increasingly conservative politics of Coleridge's Christian idea of inspiration as derived from God operating in history by means of "the blessed machine of language"; Blakes radical-antinomian idea of the poet as a social prophet who in Vision enters into a dialectical and critical relation to the present; Keatss notion of Poesy as a mythic repository of inspiration built up over the centuries by great literary precursors, in relation to whom the latterday sentimental poet necessarily stands as something of a plagiarist; the Hegelian idea, seen in the poetry of Keats and Percy Shelley, of the existence of an inspiring Spirit of the Age to which a poet gains access through the power of negative capability; and also the more materialistic idea of finding inspiration - or what can pass for it  in manipulation of ones own previous publications, together with their reception history, through parody, self-parody, spoofery and hoax, as in the work of James Hogg and the Blackwoods circle of writers and reviewers. Each of these different takes on the sources of inspiration corresponds with a particular view of the authors social-cultural identity, agency, and relation to the audience. Is the author a prophet (e.g., Blake, and, in very different way, Shelley), a guide and educator to new middle-class readerships (Coleridge), a polite man of letters (as Keats aspired to become), or a somewhat disreputable member of the burgeoning culture of literary reviewing (Hogg)? Beyond simply fixing a typology of Romantic authors, we will try to understand the rise and evolution of these types in relation to contemporary cultural and political anxieties provoked by the unfolding War with France, the retrenchment that followed after Waterloo, and the continuing agitation for Reform during the 1820s. Readings: Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience and Milton; Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (both 1798 and 1817 versions) and Christabel; James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner; Keats Lamia and the two Hyperion poems; Percy Shelley, The Triumph of Life and Defence of Poetry; and either Charlotte Smiths Beachy Head, or Mary Shelleys Frankenstein and The Last Man. There will be a xerox packet containing additional primary materials from Chatterton, Ossian, Hazlitt, and Byron among others, as well as selected criticism and theory from Foucault, M. Levinson, J. Chandler, J McGann and others. Assignments: one 20-minute presentation, to be written up as a 5-6 page essay; two 3-page essays; one 15-page essay which may build on earlier work.


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