WCU logoLIT 340:  The Romantic Movement [in Britain]

Fall 2005

Recitation 205, MWF 1-1:50


Dr. Robert P. Fletcher

Main Hall 541; Phone: x2745

Office Hours: M 2-3, 4-7, WF 11-12

E-mail: rfletcher@wcupa.edu

Homepage:  http://courses.wcupa.edu/fletcher/


Caspar Friedrich's "Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog" (1818)Wordsworth, hearing about the Liverpool-Manchester Railway, could see it, in his mind’s eye, creeping up through Lancashire and then turning left into his beloved Westmoreland, a more terrifying threat even than [the radical Lord] Brougham.  He had always seen himself as a distant observer of the changing world, perched on a hilltop, looking down through the clouds and mist, his mind torn between wonder at its beauty and fears about its future. . . .  Three years later, this notion was visualized in a remarkable painting by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog (1818).

--Paul Johnson, The Birth of the Modern


Course Description


This semester we will explore what is now called English Romantic literature meant to the writers who produced it during the years 1780-1830 and to the readers who responded to it.  For the historian Paul Johnson, the early 19th-century witnesses the “birth of the modern,” when many of the lasting issues of the modern world—the relation of the individual to society, the relations between genders, and those between the “West” and the rest of the world, to name a few—are framed in what are still recognizable terms. To many during the period, the literature produced was revolutionary in its call for the abolition of slavery, the recognition of women’s rights, the righting of class injustices, and the development of what were seen as new literary forms.  Other voices responded to such revolutionary calls with amusement or alarm; still others chose to withdraw to imagined worlds.  We will consider many different English Romantic voices and texts to try to determine for ourselves what was important about the period and its literature for its writers and for us as readers two hundred years later.



Austen, Mansfield Park (Oxford)

Dacre, Charlotte.  Zofloya, or the Moor.  (Broadview) [Ordered late for the course.]

Wu and Miall, eds., Romanticism: An Anthology with CD-ROM. 2nd edition. (Blackwell)

·         I ordered the 2nd edition of this text; however, a 3rd edition was published this summer and at least one of the local bookstores is having trouble getting copies of the 2nd.  So we will have to make do with a mix of both.

Course Goals


  • To provide students with significant background in the texts and historical contexts of Romantic period of English literary history;
  • To enhance students’ close reading and critical thinking skills, with practice primarily in lyrical and narrative poetry, and non-fiction prose and the novel.
  • To enhance students’ critical writing skills, through guidance in literary critical writing and the opportunity for feedback and revision.


Course Requirements


  1. Two 5-7 page (1250-1750 word) essays analyzing the literature in relation to historical/cultural contexts (topics to be suggested; revision allowed) 40%
  2. Group Research Project on an issue or writer of your (collective) choice 20%
  3. Quizzes/Homework: 100 points worth throughout the semester 20%
  4. Weekly participation in online study group (textual analysis and response to peers; detailed instructions will be found at Blackboard site) 10%
  5. Class participation (measured through oral performance and group work) 10%


NOTES: You must complete the three major assignments in order to earn a “C  or higher in the course.  This class is Writing Emphasis and will include instruction in literary critical writing.


Course Policies


We at West Chester University wish to make accommodations for persons with disabilities.  Please make your needs known by contacting me and/or the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at ext. 3217.  Sufficient notice is needed in order to make the accommodations possible.  The University desires to comply with the ADA of 1990.


West Chester University’s Mission Statement says, in part, “We appreciate the diversity the members of our community bring to the campus and give fair and equitable treatment to all; acts of insensitivity or discrimination against individuals based on their race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, abilities, or religious beliefs will not be tolerated.”   In accordance with West Chester University’s commitment to diversity, I believe that everyone in my classroom should feel safe.  I have completed the University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Ally training.  In becoming an ally I made the commitment to offer a safe space for all of my students, not just those who identify as LGBT.  If you or someone you know would like to know more about this program, please feel free to see me during my office hours.


Late Assignments: Exams or other assignments submitted late will have 1/3 of a grade deducted for each day (not class period) that passes after the due date. I will not accept any assignment more than 1 week late. Reading quizzes or homework may not be submitted late or made up without a documented medical excuse.


Plagiarism: "Plagiarism is using another's words or ideas without appropriate acknowledgement" (MLA Style Manual 4). In essays and reports, "acknowledgement" means using conventions of citation such as the quotation marks and parenthetical note in the previous sentence.  Papers and reports will be expected to conform to MLA style.  Even if you paraphrase someone's words, you must provide a note showing your debt.  In informal writing, as a common courtesy, you should always credit the name of the person whose idea you are mentioning or borrowing. NOTE: If you plagiarize or use commercial study aids (e.g. Cliff's Notes), in your essays or report, you will receive an irrevocable "F" grade.


LIT 340: The Romantic Movement

Class Schedule


Week 1

M 8/29

Revolution and the Rights of Man

Introduction to the course; after class read Bainbridge, “The Historical Context” from Romanticism: An Oxford Guide (available as a PDF document at Blackboard (Bb).

W 8/31


Price, selections (1-3), Burke, selections (5-8) + selections from Reflections on the Revolution in France on CD (CD: Contexts: Historical Documents), “Declaration of the Rights of Man” (CD: Contexts: Historical Documents), Paine, selections (14-17), Wollstonecraft “On Poverty” (141-42), Williams, selections (146-53)

F 9/2

Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (84-94)

M 9/5

Labor Day

Week 2


W 9/7

The Rights of Woman Debate

Wollstonecraft, selections from Vindication of the Rights of Woman (142-45), Barbauld, “The Rights of Woman” (25), Mellor, “Feminism” from Romanticism: An Oxford Guide (PDF document at Bb)

F 9/9

Hays, “Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women” Sections 1-5 (CD: Contexts: Gender), Polwhele, “The Unsex’d Females” (CD: Contexts: Gender)

Week 3

M 9/12

Slavery and the Slave Trade

Clarkson, An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, particularly the African (CD: Contexts: Historical Documents), Equiano, Excerpts online from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, Barbauld, “Epistle to Wilberforce” (22), More, “The Sorrows of Yamba” (30), Yearsley, “A Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade” (51), Coleman, “Post-colonialism” from Romanticism: An Oxford Guide (PDF document at Bb)

W 9/14

Writing about literature (See OWL handouts and other website listed at Bb.)  First Paper will be due 10/5.

F 9/16

Blake, Visions of the Daughters of Albion (94-99); + skim Stedman’s Narrative of a five years' expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, noting especially Blake’s illustrations (CD: Contexts: Historical Documents), Southey, “The Sailor Who Had Served in the Slave-Trade” (565)

Weeks 4-6

M 9/19

Nature, Imagination, and Aesthetics

Burke, Extracts from A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful: Part 1, sections vi, vii and viii; Part 2, sections i, ii, iii, v (up to the sentence including <P 113>); Part 3, all selections (CD: Contexts: Theory); Knight, An Analytical Inquiry into the Principles of Taste: Extract 4 on “the picturesque” (CD: Contexts: Theory)

W 9/21

Smith, selections (34-36), W. Wordsworth, 7 sonnets (372-75), O’Neill, “Romantic Forms: An Introduction” from Romanticism: An Oxford Guide (PDF document at Bb)

F 9/23

W. Wordsworth, extract from Preface to Lyrical Ballads (357-63), “Tintern Abbey” (265)

M 9/26

W. Wordsworth, The Two-Part Prelude, Part I (300-11), “Crossing the Alps” and “The Climbing of Snowdon” from The Prelude (389-92, 401-05)

W 9/28

W. Wordsworth, “Daffodils” (383), D. Wordsworth, selections from The Grasmere Journals (433-35), “A Cottage in Grasmere Vale” (435), “Floating Island at Hawkshead” (438)

F 9/30

Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (528 )

M 10/3

Coleridge, Extracts from Biographia Literaria 525-27),Kubla Khan” (523)

W 10/5

Robinson, “The Haunted Beach” (122), “To the Poet Coleridge” (124)

F 10/7

No Class

Weeks 7 & 8

M 10/10

Literary Gothicism (and Orientalism)

Fall Break

W 10/12

Dacre, Zofloya, or The Moor, vol. 1 (be sure to read Craciun’s introduction when you’re finished, if not before)

F 10/14

Dacre, Zofloya, or The Moor, vol. 2

M 10/17

Dacre, Zofloya, or The Moor, vol. 3

W 10/19

Keats, “The Eve of St. Agnes” (1043)

F 10/21

De Quincey, extract from Confessions of an English Opium Eater (630-38)

Weeks 9-11

M 10/24

Art, Politics, and Society for the 2nd Generation

Byron, “So we’ll go no more a-roving” (751-2), extract online from The Giaour, Manfred, Act 1 (718-28), Stein, Immortals and Vampires and Ghosts, Oh My!: Byronic Heroes in Popular Culture at Romantic Circles website

W 10/26

Byron, Manfred, finished

F 10/28

Second Paper Assignment

M 10/31

Byron, extracts from Don Juan: Canto 1 (755-85) and Canto 2 (pages TBA)

W 11/2

P. B. Shelley, “To Wordsworth” (823), “Mont Blanc” (845), Godwin, selections (47-50)

F 11/4

P. B. Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy (930), “England in 1819” (940)

M 11/7

P. B. Shelley, “Ode to the West Wind” (859), extracts from A Defence of Poetry (944-49, 955-956)

W 11/9

Keats, extracts from letters and 2 sonnets (1018-22), letter to Woodhouse (1042), “Ode to a Nightingale” (1058)

F 11/11

Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (1060), “Ode on Melancholy” (1062)

Week 12

M 11/14

Childhood and Education

Selection(s) from CD: Contexts on Education TBA; Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience (60-84)

W 11/16

Coleridge, “Frost at Midnight” (553), Letter to Poole (460)

F 11/18

W. Wordsworth, “We are Seven” (231), “Expostulation and Reply” and “The Tables Turned” (259, 260), De Quincey, extract from “The Affliction of Childhood”, Suspiria De Profundis (642-46)

Week 13

M 11/21

2nd Paper Due and Thanksgiving Break

W. Wordsworth, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” (375), Mellor, “Why Women Didn’t Like Romanticism” (PDF Document at Bb)


Thanksgiving Break

Week 14

M 11/28

The Realist Novel

Austen, Mansfield Park, vol. 1

W 11/30

Austen, Mansfield Park, vol. 2

F 12/2

Austen, Mansfield Park, vol. 3

Week 15

Group Projects

M 12/5 - M 12/12

No class.  Professor Fletcher will be available during these times for consultations on your project.

Final Exam

Group Presentations

Thursday, December 16, 1-3 p.m.