The University of Southampton

ENGL2089 Poems, Books and Anthologies

Module Overview

The module will focus on books, annuals, and manuscript collections of Romantic-period poetry, assembled both during that period, and since. To prepare the ground for later ‘case studies’, early seminars will frame central questions about anthologies and canons in connection to set essays by Michel Foucault, Roger Chartier, and John Guillory, amongst others. The ‘case studies’ will include work by Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge, Keats, Mary Elizabeth Robinson, Felicia Hemans, and Letitia Elizabeth Landon.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module will invite you to think critically, creatively, and reflexively about the writing and reading of poems, their circulation, editing, and especially their collection into anthologies, all with reference to the so- called Romantic period in Britain (roughly 1780-1830). The module will address issues of canonization and periodization, and ask, in particular how making a volume and especially an anthology may amount to the construction of a poet, a work, a historical period, a standard of taste, or even a way of knowing that we might take for granted. The aims of this module are to: • read some volumes published in 1780-1830 in the context of their original publication and reception • consider how our understanding of a poem or poet changes when we go beyond reading individual poems and instead read that poet's books as they were printed • consider whether anthologisation amounts to a reading of a poet and a construction of an historical period.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • a range of influential volumes of poetry from the Romantic period;
  • the context of production and reception of those volumes
  • some aspects of the relation between literary culture and social and political culture.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • engage in constructive and critical discussion;
  • develop clear and coherent arguments on specific topics;
  • use a library and bibliographical tools to access relevant material.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • read in an informed manner volumes of poetry from the Romantic period in their cultural context.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse textual material with a considerable degree of competence.
  • criticise the procedures of anthologists
  • evaluate the impact of works at their initial publication
  • contrast the construction of the literary culture in the past with its retrospective construction


We will examine how collections of poems penned or edited by these writers were first produced, circulated, and received in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. We will also think about how poems from these collections have fared since: how they’ve been reviewed, reproduced, reorganized, excerpted, and recollected (or not) in anthologies of Romantic writing. Lectures will provide critical and historical contexts for the detailed discussion of texts in seminars. The module will endeavour to foster your intellectual independence by encouraging you to work from primary sources in the Chawton House Library and online. It will also require you to engage with recent critical and theoretical writings about anthologies, authorship, and the material book, and to bring these writings to bear on your own. Part of your work for the module will be to produce your own Romantic anthology. The lecture and seminar one week will take place in the archive at Chawton House Library. There is also a particularly innovative feature to the way this module is assessed. An essay on a volume published during the Romantic period is followed by an assessment task regularly praised by external examiners. Equipped for the task by your study of Romantic poetry and the way it has been constructed by critics, anthologists and others, you will edit an anthology of texts on a theme of your own choosing. You do not have to make another general anthology of Romantic poetry but can include any poems of the eighteenth or nineteenth century and you can support or subvert the idea of 'Romanticism'. Be innovative: there should be plenty of scope for, say, An Anthology of Nature Poetry Before and After Romanticism, or Poems that Aren't 'Daffodils': Less well-known nature poems by less well-known poets of the Romantic period. Your own contribution (excluding the texts of the poems and indexes) should not exceed 3000 words. Your anthology should be fully paginated, accurately referenced and otherwise properly presented (according to English Discipline guidelines).

Special Features

Texts for purchase will be announced separately: you will need copies of an anthology of Romantic-period writing; links will be provided to online copies of other texts, and others will be provided through the course website on Blackboard. Preliminary reading might include Neil Fraistat, The Poem and the Book: Interpreting Collections of Romantic Poetry (Chapel Hill, North Carolina,1985) and Neil Fraistat, ed., Poems in Their Place: The Intertextuality and Order of Poetic Collections (Chapel Hill, North Carolina,1986), Jon P. Klancher, The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790-1832 (Madison, Wis., 1987), William St Clair, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (Cambridge, 2007).Martha Woodmansee, The Author, Art, and the Market: Rereading the History of Aesthetics (New York, 1994), Martha Woodmansee and Peter Jaszi (ed.), The Construction of Authorship: Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature (Durham, North Carolina, 1994). 1. Anthologies You should read and if possible buy Romanticism: An Anthology, ed. Duncan Wu, fourth edition (Oxford: Blackwell, 2012), ISBN: 978-1-4051-9075-6). We will be using this both as a source of Romantic texts, and as an instance of how anthologies might work, so you should read the introduction and list of contents, as well as reading as much of the excerpted poetry as you can. You might start with the poets listed in the module summary, above, but I’ll also want to hear about what you’ve read beyond this. Online, I strongly recommend you visit Laura Mandell’s anthologies site, (see esp. nos. 12 & 54). You may also wish to consult Barbara Benedict’s Making the Modern Reader: Cultural Mediation in Early Modern Anthologies (1996), online as a Google book. 2. Romanticism Useful background books about Romanticism include: Marilyn Butler, Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries (1989), and An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age, ed. McCalman et al (1999). Online, try the ‘Romantic Circles’ website, whose electronic editions of the Lyrical Ballads, Barbauld’s Poems, and LEL’s Keepsake we’ll be consulting. ‘Romantic Circles’ also has an anthologies page.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

There will be one double-length lecture and one double-length seminar per week, except in weeks 6 and 12, which are set aside for individual consultations and feedback on essays. Seminars will provide you with the opportunity for class and small-group discussion, and for the informal presentation of your own and others’ ideas. On at least one occasion, we will have a hands-on session with old books at the Chawton House Library.

Completion of assessment task50
Preparation for scheduled sessions120
Wider reading or practice24
Follow-up work24
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Neil Fraistat, ed. Poems in Their Place: The Intertextuality and Order of Poetic Collections. 

Barbara Benedict. Making the Modern Reader: Cultural Mediation in Early Modern Anthologies. 

Martha Woodmansee. The Author, Art, and the Market: Rereading the History of Aesthetics. 

Laura Mandell’s anthologies site, (see esp. nos. 12 & 54). Web resource

Jon P. Klancher. The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790-1832. 

ed. Duncan Wu. Romanticism: An Anthology. 

William St Clair. The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period. 

Neil Fraistat. The Poem and the Book: Interpreting Collections of Romantic Poetry. 

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

Marilyn Butler. Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries. 

‘Romantic Circles’ website. Web resource

Martha Woodmansee and Peter Jaszi (ed.). The Construction of Authorship: Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature. 



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


MethodPercentage contribution
Take-away exam  (48 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

A great deal of work for this module is done in archives or online: the text for purchase is Duncan Wu (ed.) Romanticism: An Anthology, Fourth Edition (Oxford: Blackwell, 2012), ISBN : 978-1-4051-9075-6, currently £26.99.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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