English 495: Romanticism: Criticism and Theory

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1 English 495: Romanticism: Criticism and Theory Tuesdays and Thursdays pm, Morrison 210 Keene State College, Fall 2008 Dr. William Stroup Office: Parker 102, office phone: , Office hours: Tuesdays , Wednesdays 12-2, Thursdays , and by appointment Course Description: This seminar is the second half of a year-long sequence of courses on British Romantic Period literature (roughly ). The first half focused on primary texts, especially by major poets such as William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Blake, John Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy Shelley, and one novel by Jane Austen. This semester we will continue to study the creations of these and other writers, but with a particular focus on secondary texts about their work and literary production in general. The first six weeks of the course comprise an intensive seminar on Literary Criticism and Theory. This part of the class also relates Romantic period writers and critics to their predecessors and to the ways that their works have been re-read by subsequent literary critics. The vocabulary and references from this section of the course are designed as essential advanced knowledge for English majors, and necessary preparation for anyone considering the possibility of graduate school in literary studies. We will then engage with the textual and critical debates surrounding what is probably the most famous text of the Romantic period: Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley s novel Frankenstein (1818). Because this novel, among many other themes, engages with the ethical consequences of how modern individuals engage with and can alter the fabric of the natural world, this will provide a transition in a section on Romanticism and Ecology built around the work of such critics as Jonathan Bate. Throughout the course, in addition to required reading and other writing assignments, all students will be expected to engage with independent reading projects on primary and secondary texts that will inform a seminar paper due at the end of the course. Course Goals: 1) Students will understand that texts can be interpreted based on different theoretical/critical approaches 2) Students will understand the scholarly debates in Romantic studies 3) Students will be able to enter into the ongoing scholarly debates in the field of Romantic studies. Course Outcomes: 1) Identify a significant scholar or scholarly work in Romantic studies and the contribution this scholar or work makes to the field.

2 2) Identify and explain one of the ongoing scholarly debates in this field. 3) Formulate a critical thesis taking a stand on one of the debates in the field. 4) Texts: Available at the bookstore in the Student Center. Everyone must have his or her own copies of the required texts. The five titles below are new for English 495. All students are also expected to have available the three required books from English 395: Rules for the Dance by Mary Oliver, the Norton Critical Edition of Jane Austen s Sense and Sensibility, and, most importantly, Romanticism: An Anthology, Third Edition (Blackwell), edited by Duncan Wu. 1. M.H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition. Oxford UP, Jonathan Bate, The Song of the Earth. Harvard UP, Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction, Anniversary Edition, U Minnesota P, Nicholas Roe, ed. Romanticism: An Oxford Guide. Oxford UP, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein Norton Critical Edition, ed. J. Paul Hunter. WW Norton, Course Policies: Seminars such as this one are kept small so that we can talk about concepts related to the course, and also so that I can answer questions you may have about the English major, graduate school, and other issues. You are, of course, responsible for asking questions and seeking help in a timely manner so that I can help you to work to your potential, so please keep in touch. All work must, of course, be your own, with proper credit always given to other scholars. You are responsible for knowing and understanding the College s Academic Honesty Policy, which is in the Catalog. Because this seminar is designed to be cumulative, and to build on the contributions of all students, you need to be in class. If you miss four classes, for whatever reason, that is two full weeks of material, and at that point one really hasn t been a student in the whole seminar. After four absences you should withdraw to avoid receiving the failing grade you will have earned. If you must miss a class please let me know as soon as possible beforehand and know that you are responsible for any assignments and missed material. Course Requirements: Preparation and Participation. I expect to see notes, underlining, and other evidence of careful preparation in your books. Ask questions, read with gusto, respect your peers, speak in class, look up unfamiliar terms, challenge each other (and me) with energy and thoughtful resolve, and practice

3 making yourself into an articulate citizen of the world. Overall consistency of preparation and participation including a positive and scholarly attitude during impromptu presentations in response to daily reading assignments is worth 25% of your grade In-class writings and Blackboard postings. I will frequently give you short writing assignments designed to encourage active reading and scholarly engagement. All of these together will equal 15% of grade. Midterm Exam. After we have finished the opening section of the course on literary theory and criticism we will have an exam on names, concepts, and key vocabulary to help us to organize and remember the many complex ideas from this section of the course. 15% of grade. Essays on Summer Biography/Longer works reading assignment (approx 3 pages each). 5% each. Essay on presentation on critical debates surrounding Frankenstein (4-5 pages). 10% Seminar paper. A scholarly essay on a concept or set of texts from the Romantic period, using appropriate critical vocabulary and sources, drawing on research well beyond the required reading for the course, and developed in consultation with me. Approx. 15 pages. Proposal due November 10, revised versions due December % of grade. TENTATIVE Course Calendar The readings for this seminar are meant to be challenging and are designed to build on both the engagement with primary texts from English 395 and sequentially on each other. By the time you are developing and revising your major seminar paper you will be able skillfully to use the vocabulary and critical methods acquired during our discussions of books by Abrams, Eagleton, and Bate, and in the many chapters of Roe s anthology. Please see me if you are having difficulty. August 26: Introduction to the Course. Welcome back to students from 395. What is English 495, how is it distinct from other seminars, and what is expected? August 28: Positioning Romantic Literature: ROE: Introduction, Simon Bainbridge on The Historical Context, Jane Stabler on The Literary Background, and Bruce Graver on Classical Inheritances (1-48). Part One: What is Literature? How is it to be meaningfully discussed? What does Romanticism have to do with the central questions of literary studies? Sept 2 ABRAMS: Orientation of Critical Theories (1-29) EAGLETON: Prefatory material, Introduction: What is Literature? The Rise of English Sept 4 ABRAMS: Imitation and the Mirror, Romantic Analogues of Art and Mind (30-69) Sept 9 EAGLETON: Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Reception Theory.

4 ABRAMS: from The Development of the Expressive Theory of Poetry and Art (70-88) ROE: Alan Gregory on Philosophy and Religion Sept 11 WU: Reread Preface to Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth ROE: Andrew Bennett on The Idea of the Author ( ) Sept 16 EAGLETON: Structuralism and Semiotics ABRAMS: Varieties of Romantic Theory: Wordsworth and Coleridge ( ) Sept 18 EAGLETON: Post-structuralism ROE: Richard Cronin on Formalism ( ). WU: Reread Coleridge s Kubla Khan and Keats s Ode on a Grecian Urn Sept 23 WU: Reread Shelley s Defense of Poetry ABRAMS: from Varieties of Romantic Theory: Shelley, Hazlitt, Keble, and Others ( ) Sept 25 EAGLETON: Psychoanalysis ROE: from Psychoanalysis by Andrew Michael Roberts ( ). Sept 30 EAGLETON: Political Criticism and Afterword (finish the book) ROE: Kenneth Johnston on New Historicism, Anne Mellor on Feminism ( ), and Deirdre Coleman on Post-Colonialism ( ). Oct 2 ABRAMS: Science and Poetry in Romantic Criticism ( ). ROE: Seamus Perry on Romantic Afterlives in Literary Criticism and Theory ( ). Oct 7 MIDTERM EXAM Part Two: Arguing with Frankenstein Oct 9: Begin FRANKENSTEIN: Preface, Letters, and Chapters I-IV (Norton pages 1-38) Oct 14 Frankenstein, rest of Volume I and all of Volume II of 1818 edition (Norton pages ) Oct 16 Finish reading the novel ( ). Also read MWS s famous Preface to the 1831 edition (Norton pages ) Oct 21 M.K. Joseph and Anne Mellor on the Composition and Revision of Frankenstein (Norton Pages ). Zachary Leader on Parenting Frankenstein from Revision and Romantic Authorship pages

5 (reserve reading). Exercise in how to summarize, quote, use, defy, and learn from scholarship on literary works. Oct 23: Frankenstein s Legacy ROE: Nicola Trott on The Gothic ( ), Michael Herbert on The Nineteenth and Twentieth- Century Novel ( ), Jerrold Hogle on Film, ( ), Marilyn Gaull on Sciences ( ), and David Miall on Romanticism in the Electronic Age ( ) Part Three: Romanticism and the Emergence of the Modern Environmental Imagination Oct 28: BATE: Going, Going and The State of Nature (includes readings of Sense and Sensibility and Frankenstein): from The Song of the Earth, pages Oct 30: ROE: James McKusick on Ecology ( ), Timothy Morton on Environmentalism ( ). Also read Kevin Hutchings on Ecocriticism in British Romantic Studies and Teaching and Learning Guide for Ecocriticism in British Romantic Studies (from online journal Literature Compass, pdf files on Blackboard). Nov 4 BATE: Major Weather ( this chapter includes readings of Byron s Darkness, Keats s To Autumn, and Coleridge s Frost and Midnight which you should reread first in Wu). Nov 6 BATE: The Picturesque Environment ( ). Nov 11 Veteran s Day Holiday No class. Send final paper proposals described on separate handout-- to Stroup as attachments by Monday Nov 10 th at 4pm. Nov 13 Finish The Song of the Earth Part Four: Participating in Informed Scholarly Debate Nov 18 Paper writing and research session Nov 20 Paper writing and research session Nov 25 Conferences Monday and Tuesday on Drafts of final essays with Stroup in his office Nov 27 Thanksgiving: No class Dec 2 New readings TBA Dec 4 New readings TBA and final discussions Thursday December 11, 1-3pm, Final papers due and presentations on final projects

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