E f329K • The Early Romantic Period, 1780-1815
1:00 PM-2:30 PM
This is primarily a course in the poetry of the three greatest first-generation English Romantics: William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Many major themes of the period are engaged in their work: hopes of reform aroused by the French Revolution, the ensuing disillusionment with politics and growing faith in the redemptive power of the imagination, the philosophical critique of Newtonian mechanism and Enlightened Reason, the attempt to raise awareness of the Divine while yet recognizing the deficiencies of organized religion. But the differences and disagreements between the three men are at least as significant as their similarities. Accordingly, this course plays each man's beliefs off against the other two, seeing how Wordsworth's pantheism, Coleridge's Christian metaphysics, and Blake's prophetic concept of Vision shed light on one another.
Assignments emphasize close reading and deep understanding of specific poems. Readings include Blake's early Songs and shorter Prophetic Books, together with their accompanying engraved designs; Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads; selections from Wordsworth's epic autobiography, The Prelude; Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner and metaphysical writings; as well as selected essays from the period and, possibly, Horace Walpole's short gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto.
Two 3-page close-readings; two 4-5-page essays. Final grades will take some account of class participation.
Blake's Poetry and Designs, ed., Johnson and Grant (Norton)
William Wordsworth, Selected Poems and Prefaces, ed. Stillinger (Riverside)
Romanticism and Consciousness, ed. Bloom (Norton)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Jackson (Oxford)