ENGL 3564 Romanticism
About the Course:
You may have seen that the catalogue description for this course highlights six white male poets: William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and John Keats. For a long time, the field of “Romanticism” was grounded in what we knew and thought about these men, known as the “Big 6.” But lots of other kinds of people were writing during the Romantic period, and the Romantics wrote much more than just poetry. For a few decades now, scholars have been finding ways to expand our views of Romanticism, bringing works by women, writers of color, and queer authors into the canon. As recently as 2017, a group of young professors and students started a hashtag, #bigger6, and an accompanying collective to fight against the structural racism in Romantic studies. It’s become evident, in a lot of ways, that Romanticism as a field of study has some problems. So what do we do about it?
Responding to the call of movements like #bigger6 and ShakeRace (a similar effort in Early Modern studies), this class looks at how we can shake up old ways of studying “Romanticism,” finding alternative ways to approach and think about the field. We will brainstorm how to (and in what ways we should) connect the past to our present day, finding traces of ourselves and each other in early feminist writings, political revolutions, pop fiction, and diaries. We will discuss the implications of the “Bigger 6” movement for English collegiate education, and we will collectively imagine ways to reshape future studies of Romanticism in academic and public spaces.
Generally, literature classes aim to teach you three things: how to read a text carefully and critically, how to produce original and perceptive analyses about that work, and how to communicate those insights clearly. This course is designed to help you achieve these skills, as well as to provide you with basic knowledge about the Romantics’ works and to foster understanding of the Romantic era. All assignments in this course are geared toward helping you achieve these goals. Regular and active engagement in this class will help you do the following:
1. Define the literary period of Romanticism and demonstrate your acquired knowledge through regular class discussion activities and presentations;
2. Identify and describe key features of Romantic writing;
3. Articulate how, why, and in what ways the Romantics contributed to the shaping of British literature;
4. Apply your gained knowledge and understanding to academic work as well as to your own lives and what you read or watch today;
5. Analyze how Romantic writers discuss individual rights, identities, and responsibilities alongside their literary and artistic experimentation;
6. Develop your own opinions from deep interrogation of these issues, which you will be able support in written form throughout the course;
7. Discuss the intersections between “public” and “university” life and articulate some of the key stakes in overlapping the two.
Anonymous. The Woman of Colour. 1808. Edited by Lyndon J. Dominique, Broadview Press, 2007. ISBN: 9781551111766.
Earle, William. Obi; or, The History of Three-Fingered Jack. 1800. Edited by Srinivas Aravamudan, Broadview Press, 2005. ISBN: 9781551116693.
PDFs to download from Canvas. Links to purchase eBook varieties when available will be in the course syllabus.
Students will complete a series of participation activities (including discussion board posts and class-wide annotation assignments), written reflections, and a final project. As an upper-division course, this class will require a significant amount of reading and writing: please be prepared to engage deeply in course material.