Genres, 1789-1890: Romantic Poetry in England and America (online) (WI Capstone-Eligible) [***]

Romantic Poetry in England and America
ENGLSH 4108/4108W/7108
Section 01
Noah Heringman
Asynchronous online
Course Description

This advanced course on transatlantic Romantic poetry follows the gaze of British and American poets as they looked back and forth across the Atlantic. The British Romantic poets came of age during the French Revolution and many of them saw the American Revolution as the spark that touched off the political and cultural transformation of Europe.  The American Romantics, writing more than a generation later, took their inspiration from the natural world, much as the British Romantics had done, and many of them read deeply in the European philosophy associated with earlier Romantic movements.  American abolitionists of the 1830s and 1840s also took inspiration from the abolitionist movement that had begun in England in the 1770s. These crossings resulted in a rich braiding of poetic traditions despite the ocean that separated them.

 In this course we engage with four topics, five genres, and six poets. The topics of mutual interest to both Romanticisms are abolition, revolutionary politics, science, and industrialization. The five poetic genres that were most important to both groups of poets were the ode, the ballad, the elegy, the sonnet, and the epic. These sets of shared political and literary concerns enable us to read individual poems by a large number of poets from both sides of the Atlantic. A deeper study of three British poets (Charlotte Smith, William Blake, and William Wordsworth) and three American poets (Emily Dickinson, William Cullen Bryant, and Walt Whitman) allow us to examine the myriad influences on and developments of individual poets who came to define the field.  Writing for this asynchronous online class includes many informal exercises including discussion board posts and a reading notebook as well as three short formal essays, one each on a genre, an author, and an issue.