ENGL625 - Readings in English Victorian Literature: Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Poetry and Poetic Theory

This course will read widely in nineteenth-century British and American poetry, with an eye toward the transatlantic exchanges that undergird much of the era’s poetic theory. Among other topics, we will address the politics of sentimental poetics; the connections (real and imagined) between poetry and nationalism; the material conditions (printing presses, transatlantic voyages, new technologies for communicating) that enabled transatlantic literary exchanges; and evolving theories (often understood in national contexts) of poetic form. This will be both a “survey” of the most important poetry and poetic theory written in the nineteenth century and a focused enquiry into what might be called transatlantic poetic theory. At key points in the term we will widen our scope to consider poetry in English composed elsewhere in the world (India, Australia, South Africa, Canada), to question what happens to transatlantic models of literary exchange when we open our perspective to the global. Our poets will likely include Tennyson, Barrett Browning, Longfellow, Bryant, Whitman, Dickinson, Hopkins, Swinburne, Toru Dutt, and many others.