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EN2B4/EN3B4 Romantic and Victorian Poetry

Module team 2019–2020: Dr Emma Francis (convenor) & Dr Stacey McDowell

Dr Emma Francis Information about office hours here

Dr Stacey McDowell information about office hours here

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: Thursday 1:00 - 2:00 venue L4 in term 1 & S0.21 from Term 2 (certain weeks only - see Lecture List tab above)

Tuesday 4:30-6:00; Wednesday 11:30-1:00; Thursday 2:30-4:00, 2:30-4:00, 5:00-6:30.


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, Jeremiah, Luke 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.


Intermediate years:
2 x 800-1000 word formative close reading essays deadlines tba at the start of term 1 (required; submit in hard copy directly to your seminar 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)

1 x 4000 word essay (50%)
1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Essay submission dates will be confirmed by the English office at the start of the academic year.

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). The new 10th series editions are now available and it is these that should be purchased. I am in the process of negotiating a bundle discount with our friends at Norton. More advice as I have it.

The second formative assignment should be submitted in hard copy (double spaced, single sided) to your tutor in your WEEK 4, term 2 seminar. Assignments submitted only through Tabula will be considered invalid. Write an 800-1,000 word close analysis of Felicia Hemans' 'Properzia Rossi' from the commencing headnote through to the end of line 25 (the entire page 909 of the Romantic Period Norton, bar the Norton editor's footnotes at the bottom)

Blake MHH

William Blake, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell