E 329L • The Later Romantic Period, 1815-1832
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
This course will examine the rich and variegated tapestry of British literature in the second and third decades of the nineteenth century, a time when the vital species of literary activity we call Romantic generated intense new strains of thought and language. Beginning at the outset of the Regency period, when the madness of King George III left the government to the dissolute prince of Wales and Lord Byrons conquest of the literary scene inaugurated a whole new mode of literary celebrity, we will read works published up through 1832, when the passage of the first Reform Bill and the death of Walter Scott arguably marked the end of the Romantic era.
This short span of literary history held momentous consequences for subsequent art and culture around the world. We will see how Scott and Jane Austen revolutionized the novel, how Byron, Percy Shelley, and John Keats transformed the practice and perception of poetry, and how Mary Shelley transfigured the gothic into something approaching science fiction. In addition, we will relate these accomplishments to concurrent literary trends and to the social tumult of an era when the British state triumphed abroad but faced renewed political crises at home.
Main themes will include the public role of late Romantic literature, especially its representation of the history and situation of the British nation (or nations); the struggles of the second generation of Romantics to move out of the shadow of their precursors, especially Wordsworth; and the ethical ambitions and anxieties that writers of the period entertained about the power of their works to reflect and change the world.
Punctual attendance and participation, together with grades on occasional quizzes 25%
Three 1500-word close-analysis papers 20% each
Midterm exam 15%
Scott, Guy Mannering
Shelley, The Last Man
Wolfson and Manning, eds., The Romantics & Their Contemporaries, (Volume 2a of the The Longman Anthology of British Literature)
Other supplemental readings will be available on electronic reserve.