Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Romantic Radical Cultures
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay submission  1 x 5000 word essay  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed or missing essay  Resubmit 1 x 5000 word essay  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. locate Romantic writing and images in terms of its cultural and political milieu

2. set a theoretical frame for considering the ways in which Romantic literary and political culture can be considered a culture of dialogue, conversation and exchange

3. engage critically with ways in which Romantic authors negotiated institutional responses to dissent

4. discuss Romantic texts and images in a critically and theoretically informed, focused, comparative and well-structured manner

5. bring Romantic texts and images into productive apposition with current debates around related issues


This module is attuned to current critical and theoretical debates about how we construct the Romantic period, and how the Romantic period sought to constitute itself. It addresses these issues by examining a range of canonical and non-canonical literature and resonant examples of Romantic-period visual culture in the form of prints, cartoons and paintings.

Brief description

Weeks 1-5: Focusing on the response of the first generation Romantics to revolutionary upheaval, the first half of the module explores the interface between literature and radical culture in the seminal decade of the 1790s. It acquaints students with the complex ways in which canonical and non-canonical writers negotiated ‘history’, and considers surveillance culture of the period. Students will be introduced to the period’s great social, political, religious and intellectual debates, to a range of literary responses to revolution, and to the ‘reticular culture’ and literary ‘dialogues’ of the period. These five sessions also seek to foreground and question the theoretical and methodological debates of contemporary Romantic scholarship.
Weeks 6-10: The second half of the module acquaints students with a range of political contexts and co-texts to second-generation Romantic writing. Students will investigate how writers allude to – and/or seek to elude – the fraught contours of the political landscape, examining the web-like structures of allegiance and shared purpose connecting politically motivated authors. Individual sessions address the politics of language and taste in the Romantic period, surveillance culture, and also explore different constructions of Romantic masculinity and power.

Estimated Student Workload
Contact time: 20 hours
Preparation for seminars: 20 hours
Reading of primary texts: 60 hours
Research for assignments: 80 hours
Writing assignments: 20 hours
Total: 200 hours


1. ‘The Master-Pamphlets of the Day’
This opening session establishes the historical and conceptual ground of the module by introducing students to some of the major intellectual debates of the great pamphlet war known as the ‘Revolution Controversy’.

2. ‘Stamping the Stony Law to Dust’: Radical Blake
This session examines how Blake’s dramatic and idiosyncratic 1790s poetry and graphic art intervene in contemporary debates about political, religious and moral freedom.

3. ‘Pretty Hot in It’: Coleridge and Wordsworth – The Radical Years
This session profiles the changing radical selves of Coleridge and Wordsworth in the 1790s and their involvement in the radical culture of a tempestuous decade.

4. ‘Hunting the Jacobin Fox’: Godwin’s Caleb Williams and John Thelwall
This session examines Godwin’s famous ‘Jacobin’ novel of 1794 as political intervention. It also engages dialogically with a ‘case study’ of the radical orator, political theorist and poet John Thelwall.

5. Romanticism, History, Historicism I: The Politics of ‘Tintern Abbey’
Taking Wordsworth’s paradigmatic poem as a ‘test-case’, this session introduces students to various historicist readings of ‘Tintern Abbey’.

6. Romanticism, History, Historicism II: The Politics of Peterloo
In August 1819, workers and protesters were massacred by troops at a political rally on St Peter’s Field, Manchester (the ‘Battle of Peterloo’). As a test-case of New Historicism, we investigate a post-Peterloo dialogue involving Keats, Barry Cornwall and Percy Shelley.

7. Coterie and Camaraderie: ‘Cockney’ Cultures of Dissent
This seminar addresses the importance of coterie in the production of Romantic writing. Attention is focused on the ways in which associates of the radical editor (and ‘King of Cockneys’) Leigh Hunt collaborated on, published and promoted each other’s work.

8. Speaking Loud and Bold: The Politics of Language
This session explores how, for Hunt and his circle, social reform began with a reform of poetic language.

9. ‘Keeping a very close eye’: Romanticism and Surveillance
This session examines second-generation Romanticism’s response to widening networks of government spies and informers.

10. Slippery Blisses and Boxers: Romantic Masculinities
This seminar explores transgressive Regency masculinities, as well as sexual subcultures focused on London’s ‘molly houses’.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written: By developing a sustained critical argument. Oral: Through class discussion, small group exercises, and seminar presentations. [Not assessed]
Improving own Learning and Performance Through independent and directed research and reading.
Information Technology By using word-processing packages; using AberLearn Blackboard and other e-resources to research and access course documents and other materials; by submitting assignments via Turnitin.
Personal Development and Career planning Through increased critical self-reflection and the development of transferable, ICT, communication and research skills.
Problem solving By evaluative analysis and the use of critical skills.
Research skills By directed and independent research; by synthesizing information in an evaluative critical argument.
Subject Specific Skills Through the reading, writing and researching skills involved in the interrogation of literary texts; through comparative models of reading and understanding; and through the conceptual/theoretical analysis of works of imaginative literature in relation to a range of other non-literary texts.
Team work Through group work in seminars; and through preparation for paired presentations in seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 7