The course will offer a broad overview of the political, intellectual and literary history of the Romantic period (1789-1850), focusing on the works of William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Wordsworth. We will begin with an investigation of the impact of the French Revolution on the Romantics and of radical developments during this period in religion (the opposition to Christianity), philosophy (the revolt against empiricism), aesthetics (the prevailing interest in the sublime and the emergence of the aesthetics of the picturesque), art (the change from the tradition of portrait paintings or paintings on historical subjects to landscape paintings in which the main subject is represented by nature as the human figure diminishes in size and significance), and gardening (the change from the formal garden to a landscape that more nearly resembles the uncultivated look of the wilderness, according to standards set forth by picturesque aesthetics).
After four weeks on these introductory topics, we will turn to an in-depth study of Blake's poetry and art work, and move on to the literary collaboration between Coleridge and Wordsworth. We will focus on Coleridge's and Wordsworth's unusual dependence on each other, personal as well as literary, beneficial as well as disabling, and their appropriation of each other's themes and poetic genres.
TEXTS: William Blake Blake's Poetry an Designs (Norton) Songs of Innocence and of Experience (Oxford UP). America: A Prophecy & Europe: A Prophecy (Dover). Samuel Taylor Coleridge Coleridge's Poetry and Prose (Norton) William Wordsworth Oxford Authors: William Wordsworth (Oxford)