English 179: British Romantic Writers


Instructor: James Donelan

Class Meetings: TR 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM GIRV 1116


Course Description:

Between 1780 and 1830, British writers either confronted the extraordinary historical events of the time with radical political writings or retreated into nature, aestheticism, and subjectivity, leaving behind works full of dangerous and beautiful ideas. We will read poetry by Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Byron as well as prose works by Paine, Wollstonecraft, Burke, and Austen. Assignments include two essays, a midterm, a final, and a brief oral presentation.



The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume D: The Romantic Period, Eighth Edition, Greenblatt and Abrams, eds. ISBN: 0-393-92720-2

English Romantic Poets: Modern Essays in Criticism, M. H. Abrams, ed. ISBN: 0195019466


Essay and Test Requirements: You will write two essays, one short (1250-1500 words) and one longer (2500-3000) on readings assigned in the course and incorporating critical sources.  The midterm will test your knowledge of the texts from the first half of the course; the final will test specific knowledge of the second half and general knowledge of the entire course. Grades will be determined as follows:

Paper topic suggestions, course policies, and other materials will be posted on the course web site.  In addition, keep in mind the following:

Reading Requirements: Each date on the syllabus has at least one source reading listed on the first line, and most have a second line for critical readings. Please read both before the class meeting for that date, and be sure you can summarize the source reading effectively. The critical readings will also be discussed, but their primary purpose is to assist you in understanding the source readings.




I. The Romantic Revolution: William Blake and the Radicals


4/1 Introduction: Romanticism


4/3 Blake, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, 81-97

              Lovejoy, “On the Discrimination…” 3; Gleckner, “Point of View” 90


4/8 Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 111

              Erdman, “Blake: The Historical Approach,” 72


4/10 Excerpts from Price, Burke, Wollstonecraft, and Paine, 148, 167


II. Romantic Subjectivity: Coleridge and the Wordsworths


4/15 Wordsworth, poems from Lyrical Ballads, 245

              Abrams, “The Correspondent Breeze…,” 37


4/17 Preface to Lyrical Ballads, 262

              Sheats, “The Lyrical Ballads,” 133


4/22 First paper due in class. Wordsworth, “Resolution and Independence,” 302; “Ode: Intimations of Immortality,” 306; “The Solitary Reaper,” 314

              Trilling, “The Immortality Ode,” 149


4/24 Wordsworth, The Prelude, Books I, 324; V, 357; VI, 361; and XIV, 385

Hartman, “Nature and the Humanization of Self…,” 123


4/29 Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” 430; D. Wordsworth journals, 390

              House, “The Ancient Mariner,” 214


5/1 Midterm


III. The Romantic Hero: Byron and the Shelleys


5/6 Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Cantos 1 and 3, 617; Austen excerpts, 514

              Robson, “Byron and Sincerity,” 275


5/8 Byron, “Darkness” 614; Don Juan, Cantos 1-4, 670

              Gardner, “Don Juan,” 303


5/13 Shelley, “Mont Blanc,” 762; “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty,” 766; “Ode to the West Wind,” 772

              Leavis, “Shelley,” 345


5/15 Shelley, from Prometheus Unbound, 775

              Wasserman, “Prometheus Unbound,” 304


5/20 Shelley, “Adonais” 822; From A Defence of Poetry 837


5/22 Mary Shelley, “The Last Man: An Introduction” and “The Mortal Immortal,” 958


IV. Dying Too Soon: Keats and the End of Romanticism


5/27 Keats, “The Eve of St. Agnes,” 888

              Stillinger, “The Hoodwinking…,” 448


5/29 Keats, “Ode to Psyche”; “Ode to a Nightingale”; “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” 901-905

              Fogle, “A Note on ‘To a Nightingale,’” 436


6/3 Second paper due in class. Keats, “The Fall of Hyperion…,” 926; Letters, 940-944

              Sperry, “Tragic Irony…,” 470


6/5 Conclusions and Review

Final: Thursday, June 12, at 8AM.