ENGL379W - Special Topics in Literature; Victorian Poetry, Victorian Bodies

The nineteenth century is often framed as a period of conservative thinking, especially with respect to human bodies. But poetry of the period tells a different story. Keatsian sensuality, the “Fleshly School” of poetry, flagellation and sadomasochistic poems, the “Spasmodic” school of poets, and late-century homoerotic verse: a surprising amount of poetry in the nineteenth century concerned itself with the human body. We will read the great, canonical poets of the period – John Keats, Alfred Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Brontë, Christina Rossetti, Matthew Arnold, and Oscar Wilde – alongside lesser-known poems by working-class writers, ballads concerning race and nationality, and works that capture shifting ideas of sex and sexuality. No prior knowledge of poetry is expected! Assignments will include three short (4-page) essays and a final exam.