ENGLISH 441 - Contemporary Poetry
Fall 2013, Section 002 - Romantic Strangers
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
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One of the hallmark features of “the Romantic” (traditionally, a term linked to the European literatures and arts of the later 18th and early 19th centuries) is its exoticism. Unlike the Neoclassical styles and values that preceded it, Romanticism features characters, cultures, mental states, dialects, erotic interests, situations, and occurrences that would have struck the contemporary reader (and often, they strike us too!) as rare and strange in both disturbing and seductive ways. In addition, Romanticism’s aesthetic or formal dimension departs dramatically from literary conventions of the time — so dramatically, in fact, as to equal and sometimes even surpass the strangeness of the modernist aesthetic. Some examples of this deformation of form include anti-closural and interruptive tactics; preference for the interrogative mode over the declarative; practices of “surmise” or conjecture that remain non-propositional, i.e., free-floating, neither confirmed nor denied; intricately nested and recursive plot structures; elaborate experiments in para-text (e.g., prefaces, marginalia, footnotes); metaphors that generate, morph, or seep into plot structure.

In this course, we use “strangeness” and/or “the stranger” as a principle of selection and a focus for the study of poems by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, and Byron. We read about strange women, strange weather, strange objects, strange desires, strange thoughts, and strange souls. We will also read or consider some scholarly essays that contextualize Romantic strangers by reference to Britain’s far-flung imperial economy, and to the new “kinds” or “species” — objects, humans, plants, practices, diseases — that began appearing back home in the metropole and in the national imagination. To broaden our understanding of strangeness itself we read Freud’s essay on the uncanny and Marx’s discussion of alienated labor.

Course Requirements:

Requirements include four short (5 page) papers and regular oral presentation of an informal kind. Also available is an option to explore items from the students’ own cultural milieu (e.g., music, movies, novels, t.v. series/programs, celebrity phenomena), comparing these to some aspect of Romantic strangeness.


ENGLISH 441 - Contemporary Poetry
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 8:30AM - 10:00AM

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