E s379M • The Places of British Romanticism (Oxford)
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
British Romantic-era writers are the first authors to sound modern-- as if they could be our contemporaries. Jane Austen's novels remain bestsellers and make for popular films; adventure stories still feature stock characters invented by Lord Byron or Walter Scott; nature poetry still echoes with William Wordsworth's wonder at the sublime. Yet it can be hard for American readers, unfamiliar with the places in the "old country" that preoccupied the Romantic imagination, to test this air of contemporaneity. In this class, we will take advantage of our stay in Britain to see how travelling to the "Places of British Romanticism" enables us to experience a Romantic time and state of mind. To this end, we'll take trips to the spectacular Wye River Valley in Wales, which inspired Wordsworth's beloved lyric "Tintern Abbey"; to the antique town of Bath, a main setting for Jane Austen's most intense novel, "Persuasion"; to the London milieu of John Keats; and to the Oxfordshire haunts of Matthew Arnold's mysterious "Scholar-Gipsy." Moreover, we will read these works (and a few others) slowly and thoughtfully, luxuriating in the immense world of delight that opens up when we move deliberately across literary thresholds of space and time.