E 363K • Classic to Romantic (HONORS)
4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Restricted to students admitted to the English Honors Program.
In general terms, "classical" denotes a precise attention to proportionate composition, "romantic" a concern with expressing the vital essence of nature and the individual self. Yet literary historians now predominantly use these terms to designate periods, distinguishing between a "neoclassical" or "Augustan" age that peters out in the 1760s and a "Romantic" era that begins with the French Revolution and lasts into the 1830s. Going against the grain of such periodization, in this class we will take a cue (and some subject matter besides) from Art History, and view classicism and romanticism as loose but coherent stylistic systems that can each be traced in works from the era which the other names. In particular, we will examine the literary landscapes of the Augustan and Romantic period, reading works through which early modern British writers used neoclassical and romantic styles to transform the literary representation of place.
To this end, the course will center on writings about rural regions, country estates, and the wilds of Britain: poems, mainly, but also travel narratives, diaries, essays on gardening and landscape design, and fiction. We will connect the distinctively English literature of the countryside to political controversies about boundaries, enclosures, and improvements; to the rise of travel, tourism, and antiquarianism; to the conventions of the pastoral and the georgic; and to the aesthetic discourses of the picturesque, the beautiful, and the sublime. Authors and artists covered may include: Dryden, Behn, Defoe, Pope, Thomson, Gray, Johnson, Boswell, Goldsmith, Smith, Wordsworth, Hemans, and Byron; Guercino, Rosa, Claude, Hollar, Hogarth, Copley, West, Gainsborough, Constable, Turner, and Martin.
Three close-reading papers of approximately five pages each 50%
Four one-page response papers 10%
Attendance and participation 40%
Texts will mainly be distributed via course packet, although several books will also be on order (e.g. Behn's Oroonoko).