E 392M • Romantics Godwins to Shellys
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
Whereas in previous epochs literary circles had typically organized themselves around courts or clubs, in the Romantic period authors increasingly made their households the central venue for their literary production. In this course we will look at the literary legacies of three major Romantic literary circles, tracing the familiar story of Romanticisms main line of evolution, but also highlighting how that evolution was made possible by a household scale of intimate publicity. We will start with the circle around William Godwin, which included Mary Wollstonecraft, Amelia Opie, and the radical writers associated with the publisher Joseph Johnson. This will lead us naturally into the circle around one of Johnsons most famous protégés, William Wordsworth: a circle that came to include Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dorothy Wordsworth, Robert Southey, William Hazlitt, and Thomas De Quincey. From there we will move to treat the Shelley circle, locating in Mary and Percys company both Byron and Keats. Reading biography and autobiography alongside poems, novels, and essays, we will elucidate what it meant for these authors to write at once for intimate and impersonal reception, exploring the consequences of this double horizon for their uses of form and genre as well as for their thematic choices. We will trace how the ethical precepts of Godwin and Wollstonecraft shaped the attitudes of their successors. Finally, we will assess whether taking this the household-level view changes our conception of how Romantic literary history intersects with social history and the history of gender politics. The course will be designed to provide an introduction to the period, as well as the foundation for a related area exam list.
Works read will include some of the following: Godwins Enquiry , his novel Fleetwood, and his Memoirs of the Life of the Author of the Vindication of the Rights of Woman; Wollstonecrafts Vindications and Maria; Opies Adeline Mowbray; Dorothy Wordsworths Grasmere Journals; William Wordsworths Poems in Two Volumes of 1807; Coleridges conversation poems; De Quinceys Recollections; Hazlitts Liber Amoris; Mary Shelleys The Last Man and her edition of Percy Shelleys poems; relevant letters and shorter poems by John Keats and Lord Byron