Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 5 X 2hr seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 X 5,000-WORD ESSAY  100%
Supplementary Assessment RESUBMIT FAILED ELEMENTS  Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected.  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. display a sophisticated critical understanding of the texts under consideration

2. situate the module's texts in their cultural, political and historical contexts

3. demonstrate an awareness of wider cultural and theoretical issues raised by the module

4. produce organised, coherently structured and critically engaged written work


To introduce students to a range of different writing by Romantic writers, both canonical and non-canonical; to develop an understanding of the ways in which political communities of Romantic writers emerged and organized themselves; to develop a theoretically informed reading of Romantic texts.

Brief description

This module seeks to acquaint students with a range of political contexts and co-texts to second-generation Romantic writings. In doing so, it explores a number of different, and differently illuminating, theoretical perspectives. The seminar programme investigates how writers allude to - and/or seek to elude - their turbulent times, examining the web-like structures of allegiance and shared purpose connecting politically motivated authors, including John Keats, Leigh Hunt, Percy Shelley, Charles Cowden Clarke, 'Barry Cornwall', and William Hazlitt. Individual sessions address the politics of language and taste in the Romantic period, and also explore different versions of Romantic masculinity.


_1. Peterloo & close bosom-friends: Romanticism, history, historicism
In August 1819, workers and protesters were massacred by troops at a political rally on St Peter's Field, Manchester (the `Battle of Peterloo'). In this test-case of New Historicism, we investigate a post-Peterloo dialogue involving Keats, Cornwall and Percy Shelley. We also look at how the event was represented in newspaper reports and political cartoons.

Texts: Keats, `To Autumn'; Cornwall, `Spring', `Autumn'; Shelley, `Ode to the West Wind', `The Mask of Anarchy'; eyewitness accounts of Peterloo; Barry Cornwall, sonnets (`Spring', `Autumn'); extracts from Thomas Paine, Rights of Man.

_2. Coterie & 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 members of the radical editor (and `King of Cockneys') Leigh Hunt's literary circle collaborated on and promoted each other's work.

Texts: Hunt, `Young Poets', `To John Keats'; Keats, `To Leigh Hunt, Esq.', `On Hunt's Story of Rimini', `Written on the Day that Mr Leigh Hunt left Prison', `On Seeing the Elgin Marbles', Endymion, extracts from Keats's Letters; Shelley, `Ozymandias'; contemporary reviews of Romantic poetry.

_3. Speaking loud & bold: The politics of language
In this session, we examine how, for Hunt and his circle, social reform began with a reform of poetic language. For writers like Hunt and Keats, to attack, say, Pope (and thus Johnsonian language), was to do more than simply register a preference in taste; it was to challenge the linguistic basis of a whole series of cultural institutions.

Texts: Hunt, The Story of Rimini; Keats, `On First Looking into Chapman's Homer', `La Belle Dame Sans Merci', `Specimen of an Induction to a Poem'; Shelley, A Defence of Poetry; Wordsworth, Preface & Appendix to Lyrical Ballads, `Simon Lee', `The Brothers?; reviews of Romantic poetry.

_4. Pixies & Pegasus: The politics of taste
The fourth session begins by examining Byron's vituperative attack on Romantic taste, then focuses on the `Cockney School of Poetry' controversy fought between conservative Edinburgh reviewers and members of Leigh Hunt's radical `Cockney' circle.

Texts: Byron, English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers: A Satire (1810), extracts from Byron's unexpurgated letters (supplied), Keats, Sleep and Poetry, extracts from Hunt's essays (supplied), reviews of Romantic works (supplied), reviews by romantic writers (supplied).

_5. Slippery blisses & boxers: Romantic masculinities
This seminar explores Romantic representations of, and attitudes towards, masculinity. In addition to literary texts, we study paintings, portraits and caricatures of Romantic figures.

Texts: Byron, Don Juan (Cantos 5-6); Hazlitt, `The Fight'; Hunt, The Story of Rimini; Keats, Lamia, `La Belle Dame Sans Merci', `A Song about Myself', The Eve of St Agnes.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication (oral) through group discussions and presentations
Improving own Learning and Performance independent reading/ written assignments
Information Technology use of PowerPoint in class presentations (optional)
Personal Development and Career planning research skills developed towards future academic study schemes/ transferable communicative and synthetic skills
Problem solving Hermeneutical analysis of texts
Research skills study and analysis of historical context/ developing reading strategies to cope with non-canonical texts
Subject Specific Skills ability to negotiate political complexities of Romantic period
Team work through group presentations

Reading List

Should Be Purchased
John Barnard (ed) (1991) John Keats: Complete Poems Harmondsworth: Penguin Primo search John Cook (ed) (1998) William Hazlitt: Selected Writings Oxford: Oxford's World Classics Primo search Lord Byron (1988) Don Juan Harmondsworth: Penguin Primo search Percy Shelley (1993) Selected Poems Dover Thrift Edition Primo search
Essential Reading
'Barry Cornwall' Sonnets (SUPPLIED TEXT) Primo search Leigh Hunt The Story of Rimini (SUPPLIED TEXT) Primo search Various Early nineteenth-century reviews of Romantic poetry - a selection (SUPPLIED TEXT) Primo search
Recommended Background
Anne Mellor (1992) Romanticism and Gender New York: Routledge Primo search Jeffrey Cox (1998) Poetry and Politics in the Cockney School: Keats, Shelley, Hunt and their Circle Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Primo search Mary A. Favret and Nicola J. Watson (eds) (1994) At the Limits of Romanticism: Essays in Cultural, Feminist, and Materialist Criticism Bloomington : Indiana University Press Primo search Nicholas Roe (1997) Keats and the Culture of Dissent Oxford: Clarendon Press Primo search Peter J. Kitson (ed) (1996) Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley Houndmills: Macmillan Primo search Richard Marggraf Turley (2004) Keats's Boyish Imagination London: Routledge Primo search Richard Marggraf Turley (2002) The Politics of Language in Romantic Literature London: Palgrave Primo search Greg Kucich The Wit in the Dungeon: Leigh Hunt and the Insolent Politics of Cockney Coteries Romanticism on the Net, 14 (1999), Primo search Jerome McGann Keats and the Historical Method in Literary Criticism Modern Language Notes, 94 (May, 1979), 988-1032 Primo search Kim Wheatley The 'Blackwood's' attacks on Leigh Hunt Nineteenth-Century Literature, 47 (1992), 1-31 Primo search Nicola J. Watson Transfiguring Byronic Identity in Favret and Watson (1994), above Primo search Richard Cronin Keats and the Politics of Cockney Style Studies in English Literature (1996), 787-805 Primo search Richard Marggraf Turley John Keats, Barry Cornwall and Leigh Hunt's Literary Pocket-Book Romanticism (2001), 163-76 Primo search Susan Wolfson Feminising Keats in Kitson (1996) above Primo search William Keach Cockney Couplets in Studies in Romanticism, 25 (1986), 182-96 Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7