Not-Course in British Romanticism

Not-Course in British Romanticism

38 Mirador, by Dr. Jack & Dr. Janice

Meeting January 15, 2014

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

  • PreRomantic Trends and Romanticism Trends–an overview
  • Discussion Prompts for an expanded course
  • Poetic Terms
  • Explicating a Poem-additional material for those who are ambitious
  • Metaphors We Live By
  • Chronology of Romantic Period etc.
  • William Blake’s Illuminated Texts–a multimedia project
  • Literary Terms

    We mentioned to you/warned you we would send you some materials to look into and think about (or not) in advance of our discussion sessions beginning January 15. These will include an evolving schedule of our main readings among the works of a representative group of Romantic authors. The works listed in that schedule will of course be our main focus, though many related materials will be indicated for those who want to look into more on their own. Right now, Janice is drawing upon her own website,, which she created back in the nineties and which therefore is a bit dated, to create for us a Not Course web site that will feature not only the evolving schedule but also discussion prompts for the main writings as well as background references and much more. Further, the site will include a section for interactive discussion online.

    For now, here are a few things to think about regarding what we mentioned earlier, “guided discussion.” Call them notes on “the lay of the land” ahead Good literature, if we take it at all seriously, should be discussed in some kind of context. It was not created in a vacuum. It will have achieved a universality that
    speaks to us beyond the space, time, and form in which it was created; but our understanding and appreciation of it will be helped by knowing its relationship to the life and times of its creation, the history and tradition from which it emerged, and the history and tradition to which it contributed. Ordinary history records wars, politics, and inventions, with some attention to the advancement of knowledge. Literature, philosophy, and the arts record the history of ideas in relation to those things.

    Good literature bears analysis. Understanding a work involves surface and depth. It can be superficial or genuinely insightful. Without pedantic nonsense, we are after the latter. Insightful discussion probes not just what makes something important but it also appreciates how such importance is conveyed. So we will want to be able to talk about how the form and style of works reinforce the feelings and ideas they are about, and for that we will need some terminology. Expect to receive or be referred to a short glossary of terms that will help in discussion. As we said in the proposal for the English Romanticism Not Course, our first session will be mainly organizational, but we will also want to begin discussion, getting into matters such as definitions, background, and a bit of reading and interpretation. The first two sessions, then, will be as follows (all titles can be found on this website and/or the Internet):

    January 15. Organization—venue(s), format, etc.

    Definition(s) of “Romanticism” (See the website to be up sometime the week of Dec. 8-13) Romantic backgrounds (“Pre-Romanticism”). Robert Burns, “To a Mouse.” What are the most familiar and significant lines?

    January 29

    William Blake, from Poetical Sketches: “To Spring,” “To Summer,” “To Autumn,” " Joy,” “The Little Black Boy,” "Nurse’s Song," "Holy Thursday," “To Winter.” from Songs of Innocence: “Introduction,” “The Lamb,” “Infant Boy," "The Chimney Sweeper." from Songs of Experience: "Introduction," "Nurse’s Song," "Holy Thursday," "The Sick Rose," "Infant Sorrow," "The Chimney Sweeper." "The Tiger," "London."

    See the Discussion prompts above.