Instructor: Carlson

TR 2:00 PM-3:20 PM

The modern world was made during the Romantic era, a time of mass war, revolution, campaigns against slavery, travel and exploration followed by colonialism and empire, the rise of the big city, and the exploitation of nature by industrial production and pollution. Literature reflected these enormous changes and engaged a mass readership for the first time: Mary Wollstonecraft wrote the first radical feminist arguments; Wordsworth revolutionized poetry by making the psychological development of identity his topic; Clare and Byron prophesied ecological disaster as a result of the new capitalism; Coleridge and Cowper imagined the mental and physical degradation of slavery. Mary Shelley produced in Frankenstein a talismanic story about the dangers of the scientist playing God. Jane Austen put ordinary women at the center of the novel for the first time. Keats created the femme fatale and her masochistic lover. Neither poetry nor prose would ever be the same again: forms and genres were transformed—epic poetry became a story of the self; romance dealt with international and interfaith love affairs; confessional autobiography and the magazine article were invented; women became the heroes of novels; nature and sexual perversion the theme of lyric. We shall study some of the key texts of the era—texts that still ask pressing questions today: for example, Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Coleridge’s “Ancient Mariner,” Wordsworth’s Prelude, Byron’s Don Juan, Clare’s asylum poetry, Austen’s Emma, Keats’s “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” and Shelley’s “Mont Blanc.”