Eng 534-80 Victorian Poetry
300 Main Hall, W 4:15-7
Office: Main 524
Phones: x2626 (office) ; x2822 (messages)
Hours: MWF 11-12, MW 2-3, and by appointment
610 845-2585 (home)
In recent years, there has been something of a revolution in the study
of Victorian poetry. Long thought a kind of belated, inferior reaction
to the "major" development of Romanticism, Victorian poetry has benefited
greatly from the advent of cultural studies, with its focus on the intersecting
and often conflicting cultural discourses negotiated through poetry, especially
discourses of gender, class, and sexuality. Feminist critics have
worked to reconstruct a canon of women poets, reevaluating the work not
only of such major figures as, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Brontë,
and Christina Rossetti, but also of neglected writers such as Augusta Webster,
"Michael Field" (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper), and Mary Elizabeth
Coleridge. Gay and lesbian studies has defined hitherto "unspoken"
discourses of same-sex desire that are both articulated and disciplined
through Victorian poetry. There have long been commonplaces abounding
about the gender anxieties of poets such as Tennyson and Arnold, but recently
Herbert Sussman has attempted to describe (or reinscribe?) a heterosexual
"male poetic" and its "problems" as well. All of these divergent
investigations of culture and gender inspire this course and will help
determine its shape, as we explore the intersections of politics and poetics
in Victorian poetry.
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Enthusiastic participation in class discussions (15%); weekly response
papers (about 250 words) posted to an electronic bulletin board (10%);
a midterm examination (emphasizing explication) (25%); a research
paper of 12-15 pages (25%), and a final examination (25%).
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Tennyson, Selected Poems (Penguin)
R. Browning, Selected Poetry (Penguin)
Arnold, Selected Poems (Penguin)
Lang, ed. The Pre-Raphaelites and Their Circle. 2nd edition.
Hopkins, Selected Poems (Penguin)
Hardy, Selected Poems (Penguin)
Leighton and Reynolds, eds. Victorian Women Poets: An Anthology
Leighton, ed. Victorian Women Poets: A Critical Reader
There are a number of good websites devoted to Victorian poetry--here's
a link to some with primary texts.
I have also set up an extensive reserve (for
both this class and an undergrad seminar) with books on Victorian culture
and poetry, focused specifically on issues of gender and sexuality.
Although I may require or recommend that you read an occasional essay or
chapter for class, the main purpose of this reserve is to make available
to you resources for your research paper.
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Tentative Class Schedule:
NOTE: There are more poems listed on the syllabus than we will have time
to discuss in any depth in class. So I have listed the poems you
should concentrate on in bold. With what time you have left (or if
you've read the selected poems in the past), read the others, which I will
probably mention in passing at least.
Introduction. Tennyson: "The Lady of Shalott." M.E.
Coleridge: "The Other Side of the Mirror."
Note: If you have little or no familiarity with the literary
or cultural history of the Victorian period, I suggest that after our first
class you do a bit of background reading--nothing too much. Some
suggestions: the introduction to the period in The Norton Anthology of
English Literature, the Introduction to Robin Gilmour's The Victorian Period
(book on reserve), an overview of the period in a trusty reference work,
such as The Oxford History of English Literature.
Tennyson: "Mariana," "Supposed Confessions of a Second-Rate Sensitive
Mind," "The Poet's Mind," "The Kraken," "The Palace of Art," "The
Lotos-Eaters," "Ulysses," "Locksley Hall," Songs from The Princess.
Criticism: Introduction from Isobel Armstrong's Victorian Poetry: Poetry,
Poetics, Politics (xeroxed and on reserve); Naomi Schor, "Feminist
and Gender Studies," Introduction to Scholarship, ed. Gibaldi
(MLA, 1992) [book is on reserve]; Shires, "Rereading Tennyson's Gender
Politics," from Morgan, Victorian Sages and Cultural Discourse: Renegotiating
Gender and Politics (xeroxed and on reserve).
Tennyson: In Memoriam, Maud.
Criticism: Nunokawa, "In Memoriam and the Extinction of the Homosexual,"
ELH v. 58, n. 2 (Summer 1991): 427-38; Bristow, "Nation, Class,
and Gender: Tennyson's Maud and War," Genders 9 (November
L.E.L.: "A History of the Lyre." Emily Brontë: Selections,
especially "R. Alcona to J. Brenzaida," "The linnet in the rocky dells,"
"Aye there it is! It wakes tonight," "To Imagination," "Ah! why, because
the dazzling sun"; "No coward soul is mine". Charlotte Brontë,
"Reason," Anne Brontë, "The Captive Dove."
Criticism: Introductions by Leighton and Reynolds; Armstrong, "‘A Music
of Thine Own'" (Leighton Critical Reader); Davies, "The Mother Planet"
(Leighton Critical Reader)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning: "L.E.L.'s Last Question," "To George
Sand: A Desire," "To George Sand: A Recognition," "The Cry of the Children,"
"The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point," "Mother and Poet," selected
Sonnets from the Portuguese, selections from Aurora Leigh.
Criticism: Gilbert, "From Patria to Matria" and Mermin, "The
Damsel, the Knight, and the Victorian Woman Poet" (both in Leighton Critical
Robert Browning: "Porphyria's Lover," "My Last Duchess," "Love
Among the Ruins," "A Lovers' Quarrel," "Mesmerism," "Two in the
Campagna," "The Statue and the Bust," "Fra Lippo Lippi," "Andrea Del
Sarto," "James Lee's Wife."
Criticism: Herbert Sussman, "Robert Browning's `Fra Lippo Lippi'
and the Problematic of a Male Poetic." Victorian Studies v.
35, n. 2 (Winter 1992): 185-200.
R. Browning: "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister," "The Lost Leader,"
"The Bishop Orders His Tomb . . . ," "An Epistle . . . Karshish," "Childe
Roland to the Dark Tower Came," "How It Strikes a Contemporary," "Caliban
Upon Setebos," an excerpt from "Mr Sludge, ‘The Medium'" (exact
lines TBA), "Clive"
Criticism: Ryals, "Browning's Irony," from The Victorian Experience:
The Poets, Levine ed. (Ohio UP, 1982); excerpt from Robert Langbaum's
The Poetry of Experience [both xeroxed and put on reserve].
Greenwell: "Christina," Procter: "A Legend of Provence," Webster:
"Circe," "A Castaway," Levy: "Xantippe," "A Minor Poet."
Arnold: "The Strayed Reveller," "The Forsaken Merman," "To a Friend,"
"Isolation. To Marguerite," "To Marguerite--Continued," "The Buried
Life," "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse," "Sohrab and Rustum," "The
Scholar-Gypsy," "Dover Beach," "Rugby Chapel."
Mar. 4 Midterm examination. (Bring a blue book).
Criticism: Leighton, "‘Because men made the laws': The Fallen Woman and
the Woman Poet" (in Leighton Critical Reader).
Dante Gabriel Rossetti: "The Blessed Damozel," "My Sister's
Sleep," "Mary's Girlhood," "Sister Helen," "The Song of the Bower," "Jenny,"
From The House of Life: "The Sonnet," 6, 6a, 7, 10, 18, 49-52, 56-58, 77,
78. Morris: "The Defence of Guenevere," "King Arthur's
Tomb," "The Haystack in the Floods," Swinburne: "The Triumph
of Time," "Hymn to Proserpine," "The Leper." All poems in
Lang, The Pre-Raphaelites.
Criticism: Gelpi, "The Feminization of Dante Gabriel Rossetti," from The
Victorian Experience: The Poets (xeroxed and put on reserve).
Christina Rossetti: (in Lang) Monna Innominata, (in Leighton
and Reynolds) "Song," "A Study," "My Dream," "In an Artist's Studio,"
"Winter: My Secret," "A Better Resurrection," "The heart knoweth its
own bitterness," "The Convent Threshold," Goblin Market,
"Cousin Kate," "Noble Sisters," "An Old World Thicket."
Criticism: McGann, "Christina Rossetti's Poems" and Holt, "Exchange
in Goblin Market" (both in Leighton Critical Reader)
Hopkins: "The Wreck of the Deutschland," "The Windhover," "Carrion
Comfort," "No Worst, There is None," "I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark,"
"My Own Heart Let Me More Have Pity On," "To R.B.," and other poems
TBA. Swinburne: "Anactoria," Meredith:
"Modern Love" (both in Lang).
Criticism: Thaïs Morgan, "Violence, Creativity, and the Feminine:
Poetics and Gender Politics in Hopkins and Swinburne." In Gender
and Voice in Victorian Literature. Northern Illinois Univ. Press,
1992. [xeroxed and put on reserve]
Meynell: "To the Beloved," "A Letter from a Girl to her own Old
Age," "A Study," "Renouncement," "The Modern Mother," "A Father
of Women." ‘Michael Field' (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper):
"`Maids, not to you . . .'," "Sometimes I do dispatch my heart," "A
Portrait," "A Girl," "Unbosoming," "It was deep April," "Your Rose
is Dead," "A Palimpsest," "Trinity." M.E. Coleridge: "A Clever
Woman," "`True to myself am I, . . .'," "The Witch," "L'Oiseau Bleu,"
"The Witches' Wood," "The White Women."
Criticism: White, "The Tiresian Poet," and McGowran, "The Restless Wanderer
at the Gates" (both in Leighton Critical Reader).
Hardy: Selected poems TBA. Watson: "Ballad of the
Bird-Bride," "A Ballad of the Were-Wolf." Mew: "Fame," "The
Forest Road," "Madeleine in Church."
Criticism: Hughes, "‘Fair Hymen holdeth hid a world of woes'" (in Leighton
Critical Reader), and perhaps a piece on Hardy.
Reports on research papers
The research paper is due in my box on April 24, by 2:30 p.m..
Final Examination: April 29, 4:15-6:15
The final will seek to promote a synthesis of our semester-long discussion
of gender and sexuality in Victorian poetry.
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