ENGL 350 A1: 19th-Century British Literature and Culture: Romantic Texts

G. Kelly

The Romantic period in Britain, roughly from 1785 to 1837, saw the onset of modernity much as we still know it-a field of struggle between contending interests around issues of subjective identity, personal relationships, social difference and conflict, nation and empire, faith, knowledge, culture, and power. Inevitably, the Romantic period also saw a revolution in the print culture in which modernity was imagined, promoted. And so it was during this period that the previous literary order was inverted and the four major popular literary forms that still dominate popular culture were developed, namely melodrama or music-drama, prose fiction romance, popular song-poetry, and journalism-essays. For during this period the mass media were invented much as we still know them, using new technologies, though later transformed by successive innovations including sound recording, film, radio, television, and digital media. This course examines challenging and revealing examples or literature both "high" and "low" from the Romantic onset of modernity, including fiction, poetry, drama, and prose, in turn including romance, popular song, melodrama, and journalism. These forms or genres are examined in relation to the major themes of modernity, and connecting our present with the Romantic past.