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ENGL2005 Romanticism

Module Overview

‘Romantic’ texts address how revolutions are written about, reflect the emergence of a reading public, and represent an extension of authorship to women and working-class writers. More specifically, works from around 1780-1830 by authors including William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, and Mary Shelley have been described as ‘Romantic’. A critical, theoretical construction, Romanticism engages with the theorisation of poetry, and invites us to explore the influence notions such as the sublime, nature, and sensibility had in different cultural contexts, and continue to have on texts and interpretation today.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• introduce you to the major strands of writing in Britain in the Romantic period and to enable you to recognise and analyse different poetic and other literary forms • help you place these writings in their historical, political and cultural contexts • encourage you to explore the continuities and discontinuities within these traditions

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • a range of fictional, poetic, and other texts often described as ‘Romantic’
  • the interrelationship of literary production and its wider historical context
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • interpret these texts in the light of their specific contexts
  • question whether the description 'Romantic' is primarily a historical or a formal description
  • make connections between fictional and discursive writings of different genres
  • explain changing approaches to poetry with reference to a particular, vexed historical, political and cultural context
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • investigate, research and structure arguments around the particular themes and concerns of a vexed historical epoch


This module is an introduction to Romanticism and Romantic writing in Britain. It aims to make you familiar with a wide variety of texts from a period – roughly 1780-1830 – often described as 'Romantic', and to develop your ability to interpret these texts in the light of their specific contexts. The module examines how revolution can be written about, the effects of the making of a reading public, the extension of authorship to women and working-class writers, a separation of cultural from political power, the theorisation of poetry and the figure of the poet in Romantic aesthetics. Aware that Romanticism is a critical, theoretical construction rather than something already given, we will consider the question of the literary canon and encourage reflection on our ways of approaching the works and events of the period from a historical distance. We will try to examine Romanticisms across different fields of culture and in an international context, asking whether 'Romantic ideology' persists into the present – or how it comes into existence in the dialogue between the present and the past.

Special Features

One distinctive feature of this module is that writing a journal will be one of your central learning activities this semester. The journal is a notebook you use to reflect regularly on your reading. It is useful for recording your questions about the readings and your responses prior to class discussions, as well as for reviewing when mining for materials for a response or an assessed essay. The journal is intended as a mechanism for helping you think and respond to the module. In it you should combine reading notes on the module texts and related readings, as well as your viewing of sites on the World Wide Web and responses to seminar discussions with your own thoughts on all these. Initially, you should think of writing in your journal as talking out loud, or thinking out loud. You may note pleasures or difficulties that strike you in what you’ve read, a situation, a particular use of language, an unexpected relationship, a metaphor, a particular claim - whatever impresses you in the module of your reading and in reflecting on that reading. You should write at least one entry in preparation for each class discussion.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures • seminars • consultation hours • individual feedback on essays Learning activities include • preparing and delivering seminar presentations • individual study and research • maintaining and rewriting a module journal This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions.

Wider reading or practice24
Preparation for scheduled sessions88
Follow-up work24
Completion of assessment task84
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

ed. Maxwell & Trumpener (2008). Fiction in the Romantic Period. 

ed. Duncan Wu (2006). Romanticism: An Anthology. 

Mary Shelley (1818). Frankenstein, ed. Butler. 

ed. Curran (1993). British Romanticism. 

ed. Chandler & McLane (2008). British Romantic Poetry. 

Elizabeth Inchbald. A Simple Story. 

‘Romantics' page of the ‘Voice of the Shuttle'. Web resource

Marilyn Butler (1981). Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries. 

ed. McCalman et al (1999). An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age. 

‘Romantic Circles' website. Web resource

Jane Austen. Persuasion. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Journal  (3000 words) 65%
Take-away exam  (48 hours) 35%


MethodPercentage contribution
Take-away exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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