Romantic Poetry and Its Consequences


In this course, we will read and discuss some of the most influential poetry in the English language written during the last two centuries. One of the assumptions of the course is that modern poetry originates in the Romantic era. In the wake of the French Revolution, Wordsworth and Coleridge invented a new kind of autobiographical poem that largely internalized the myths that they inherited. We will trace the impact of their work on poets from the second generation of Romantics through the early modernists, many of whom sought to break with Romanticism but increasingly seem, instead, to have reinterpreted and extended its legacy. Our pre-eminent goal will be to appreciate each poet’s—indeed, each poem’s—unique contribution to the language. Our understanding of literary and historical trends will emerge from the close, imaginative reading of texts. Authors will include: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Whitman, Dickinson, Tennyson, Browning, Rossetti, Hardy, Frost, Stevens, Yeats, and T. S. Eliot.