English 130 - Summer Sessions II, 2020

Romantic Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Hughes, William
CRN: 74041


    This class is about British Romantic literature from the French Revolution (1789) to the First Reform Bill (1832). As a literary and aesthetic movement, Romanticism rejected the rationalism of the Enlightenment, focusing instead on intense emotion as a means to genuine and authentic aesthetic experience. It was at once a reaction against the industrial revolution that valued the natural world and a response to revolutionary political movements that prioritized the individual self. In the class we will read lyric poetry, novels, prose, and a closet drama. The class is organized in four units: Nature and the Self; Gender, Sexuality, and Revolution; the Gothic; and the Sublime. We will begin by studying Romantic ideas about the relationship between the individual and nature, especially in terms of what John Keats called the poet?s ?negative capability? to be in a state of uncertainty and doubt about the world. Our unit on revolution will simultaneously address gender and sexuality. The revolutionary sentiment in the period was not limited to the politics of the state. Indeed, gender and sexuality were destabilized during the period. The transgression of gender and sexual roles was thought to lead to the transgression of the laws of the state, and to lead therefore to revolutionary ideas and practices. We will then have a unit on the massively popular and influential gothic novel as well as the reactions against the gothic, and we will end by studying the sublime as an aesthetic category that is opposed to the beautiful, and which later thinkers, such as Sigmund Freud, will elaborate upon in psychoanalytic theory.

    A note on texts: All of the texts for the class will be available either on Project Gutenberg (Gutenberg.org) or on Canvas. However, I encourage you to purchase a good print copy of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, and The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. D, ?The Romantic Period? (any edition of this anthology will be suitable).


    Frankenstein, Shelley
    Northanger Abbey, Austen
    The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. D