English 166: “Romantic Geographies”
Course Description: How did space and place inspire some of the Romantic era’s most important aesthetic works? In this class we will explore the power of geographies to inspire British literature from 1750 to 1850, when Britain’s colonial, trading, and slaving empires underwent radical changes. We will approach the topic of “Romantic geographies” spatially rather than chronologically. That is, we will organize our inquiries around distinctive landscapes and seascapes: islands, beaches, mountains, and cities, considering how these are located in particular places, including the Tahiti, India, the Arctic, the “Orient,” the English countryside, and London. We will draw on important Romantic-era concepts like the sublime, the beautiful, the picturesque, the imagination. We will consider the impact of geography in relationship to Romantic culture’s changing notions of empire, national character, exploration, sciences, nature, sexuality and gender. We will study poetry and prose by Lord Byron, Letitia Landon, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, James Cook, Samuel Coleridge, Charlotte Smith, Dorothy Wordsworth, William Wordsworth, and Felicia Hemans, alongside visual works by artists including indigenous people.