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EN227 Romantic and Victorian Poetry

Convenor (2017-2018):
Professor Emma Mason

Pathway information

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 Distributional Requirement for the Theory, World and North American Pathways.

Lectures and seminars

Lecture: Tuesdays 13.00–14.00, LIB1 (alternate weeks)

Seminars: Mondays 16.30–18.00; Tuesdays 14.30–16.00; Wednesdays 9.30–11.00; Thursdays 12.30–14.00.


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 majority of the set texts are in the Norton anthologies (see "Text Books" below for details); those not included in the anthologies are provided in an online pack provided at the start of term. You are welcome and encouraged to read other poems and prose 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).

The module also requires engagement with several historical prose works, including: Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757); Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791); Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792); Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (1869); and Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1859). The King James Bible is also crucial for the poets we will consider, a text they reference, repudiate and rework. Prior to the commencement of the module, you should read at least Genesis, Job, Matthew and Revelation.

Many of the historical and modern critical works with which the poets are in dialogue are included in Emma Mason and Jonathan Herapath, Nineteenth Century Poetry: Criticisms and Debates (Routledge: 2016). Students are advised to refer to this resource throughout the module, which was edited with this specific module in mind. The Norton anthologies assigned as module readers, which contain most of the set texts of the module, also comprise extracts from a wide range of the contemporaneous social, political, religious, aesthetic and economic and scientific debates, to which students will be directed as the module progresses.

Changes for 2017-2018

The module team have responded to student evaluations, and have introduced 10 lectures for 2017-2018. The lecture will be on Tuesdays 13.00-14.00 in LB1 (Library 1). Seminars will remain an hour and a half long to give students the advantage of longer class times in addition to lectures. We have also changed the assessment to give students more feedback throughout the module.


From Autumn 2017, the assessment pattern for the module has changed. The assessment is:

2 x 800-1000 word close reading essays (required; submit on paper directly to tutor, not through Tabula)
1 x 3000 word essay (50% of the final mark; submit electronically at the end of term 2 through Tabula)
1 x 2 hour examination (50% of the final mark; scheduled by the Exams Office for term 3)
Essay submission dates will be confirmed by the English office.

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). Both are in stock at Warwick Bookshop or available to buy online.

First close reading assignment

due in week 7

Details of the assignment are here

Blake MHH

William Blake, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell