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EN227 Romantic and Victorian Poetry


Module team: Michael Meeuwis (Convenor), Katherine Fender

This module is an optional core for English Literature and Theatre Studies year 2 students. It is also a Pathway Approved Option for the English Pathway and a Distrbutional Requirement for the Theory, World and North American Pathways. 


Seminar Dates
Wednesdays; 9.30am-11.00am, 11.30am-1.00pm and 6.00pm-7.30pm
Thursdays 1.00pm-2.30pm and 2.30pm-4.00pm

A note for prospective students for the 2016-17 academic year:

EN227 will be revised for the upcoming academic year. I am considering adding theoretical texts from this book, co-edited by my colleague Emma Mason. So EN227 will involve a more extended account of the critical history of nineteenth-century poetry, along with the established history told through the poems themselves. Please find attached a draft of the revised syllabus for next year, including week by week readings. I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CHANGE THIS SYLLABUS CLOSER TO THE START OF TERM. However, this will give a rough indicator of the shape of the year and the scope of the readings.


This module focuses on significant poets from the Romantic and Victorian periods and situates their work within the cultural, social, political, economic, scientific and aesthetic debates of the period. You will need to pay close attention to both formal and contextual dimensions of the poems. The set texts are nearly all in the anthologies, except for one or two, which can be accessed by clicking on the links on the set texts page. You are welcome and encouraged to read other poems written in the period 1780-1900 in addition to the set texts.

Recommended introductory reading

Recommended introductions to the period include: Isobel Armstrong, Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics, and Politics (1993); Marilyn Butler, Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries (1982); and Stuart Curran, Poetic Form and British Romanticism (1986).

Useful historical prose includes: Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757); Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (1869): Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1859); Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791); Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). The books of Genesis, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Job in the Hebrew Bible; the book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Christian Bible (all preferably in the King James Version).


The module is assessed 50% by coursework and 50% by a 2-hour summer examination: this is assessment route (C). The coursework comprises 2 essays: (1) an close reading essay, 1500 words (submission of this essay is a requirement of the module, but the grade received for it does not form part of our courework mark); (2) an assessed research-based essay, 5000 words; the grade received for this 50% of your final mark.

Text books

You need to buy two books: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume D, The Romantic Period, ed. Stephen Greenblatt (W. W. Norton & Co, 2012); and The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume E, The Victorian Age, ed. Stephen Greenblatt (W. W. Norton & Co, 2012). Copies of both volumes are available at a slightly discounted price at the University bookshop.


William Blake, 'Glad Day'