The Romantic Period


Course Convenor:  Prof. Gregory Dart

The Romantic period was a time of profound social change and of an extraordinary richness in writers of genius. The course attempts to do justice to both aspects, with an approximate alternation of lectures on individual writers and wider topics. It begins by situating the literature of the period historically, outlining its inheritance from the eighteenth century as well as its central importance for all that follows. Subsequent lectures introduce a number of crucial cultural issues: the impact of revolutionary politics, constructions of gender, understandings of sexuality, the role of literature in times of crisis, satirical reaction against Romanticism; and a number of genres: ballads, Jacobin novels, Gothic novels, autobiographical writings. The remaining lectures will be on some of the major writers of the period.

In the autumn term each seminar leader runs an individually chosen programme of four seminars selected from the writings of a number of centrally important writers, such as Blake, Godwin, Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Scott, Byron, Austen, Shelley and Keats. Students are encouraged to use the seminars as a basis for exploring the period more widely, and to read in Romanticism: An Anthology (edited by Duncan Wu), as a good sampler and guide to further reading. Seminars in the second term are of two kinds: investigations of genre (such as Gothic novels) and in-depth studies of single authors (such as Keats and Austen).

Examination is by means of a 3-hour written paper, or by Course Essay, if preferred and if no other Course Essay is being submitted by the candidate in that year.