Romantic & Victorian Poetry

Level: BS 6th
Course Code: ELL301

Course Description: This course analyzes representative examples of British poetry of the nineteenth century, that is, from the French Revolution to the first stirrings of modernism in the early 1900s. It comprises the poetry of two eras which came one after each other, namely Romantic and Victorian age. The first half of this module extends from the mid-1770s to the 1830s, a period marked by what Wordsworth referred to as those ‘great national events’ which were ‘almost daily taking place’: the American and French revolutions, the Napoleonic wars, imperial expansion, industrialization, and the growth of the political reform movement. The production and consumption of books took on a heightened political significance in these decades and this selection includes selection from the ‘big six’ Romantics (Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, P.B. Shelley, Byron). The second half of this course includes the poetry of the poets who are called as ‘cunning terminators of Romanticism’ by some critics. This era, marked by the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837, known as Victorian age, spans till her death in 1901. The Victorians saw the virtues attendant upon a strong will as central to themselves and to their culture, and Victorian poetry strove to find an aesthetic form to represent this sense of the human will. Through close study of the metre, rhyme and rhythm of a wide range of poems - including monologue, lyric and elegy - the technical questions of poetics are related, in the work of these poets, to issues of psychology, ethics and social change.

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Learning Objective

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the literary culture of this rich and exciting period, which, in the first half, begins in the year of America’s declaration of independence and ends with the British reform act of 1832 and from there onwards till the first decade of the twentieth century.

Suggested Readings

● Aidan Day, Romanticism (1995)
● Anne Mellor, Romanticism and Gender (1993)
● Cynthia Chase, ed., Romanticism (1993)
● Harold Bloom, The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry (1961)
● Iain McCalman, An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age (1999)
● Isobel Armstrong, Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics, and Politics (1993)
● Joseph Bristow, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Poetry (2002)
● Linda K. Hughes, The Cambridge Introduction to Victorian Poetry (2010)
● M. H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic theory and the Critical Tradition (1958)
● Margaret Homans, Women Writers and Poetic Identity (1980)
● Marilyn Butler, Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries (1982)
● Paula Feldman and Theresa Kelley, ed., Romantic Women Writers (1995)
● Richard Cronin et al, ed., A Companion to Victorian Poetry (2002)
● Stephen Copley and John Whale, eds. Beyond Romanticism: New Approaches to Texts and Contexts 1780-1832 (1992)
● Stuart Curran, Poetic Form and British Romanticism (1986)
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