Course Outline


This course surveys British literature of the nineteenth century.  During this period it became possible for writers of poetry, fiction, and critical prose to address a mass audience.  Literature became a vehicle for national aspirations and a site of cultural and political conflicts which it will be our task to explore.   We will study the developments of poetic and fictional genres during our period, and also read a sampling of its prose commentators on literature and culture.  By close reading of this series of representative texts students will gain understanding both of the literary history of nineteenth century Britain and of questions about the function and power of cultural artifacts that remain important in our own time.


 “To burn always with [a] hard, gemlike flame, to maintain . . . ecstasy, is success in life. . . . While all melts under our feet, we may well catch any exquisite passion, or any contribution to knowledge that seems by a lifted horizon to set the spirit free for a moment, or any stirring of the senses, strange dyes, strange colours, and curious odours, or the work of the artist’s hands, or the face of one’s friend.”—Walter Pater, The Renaissance.

Required Books:

 Joseph Black et al, eds. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature 2nd edition, vol. 4:  The Age of Romanticism, packaged with Thomas de Quincey Confessions of an English Opium Eater ISBN 978-1-77047-851-0

Joseph Black et al, eds. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, 2 nd edition, vol 5: The Victorian Era, packaged with Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles ISBN 978-1-77047-559-5. ISBN for Tess as a separate volume is ISBN: 9781551117515.

Jane Austen, Emma (Penguin, ISBN 0141439580)

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights (Penguin ISBN 978-0141439556)


Week 1. Sept. 9, Introduction.

Sept. 11. William Blake. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, plates 1-11 (Broadview vol. 4, 72-75), Songs of Innocence (64-67).

Week 2. Sept. 16. From Songs of Experience “Introduction,” “The Clod and the Pebble,” “The Tyger” (68-71).

Sept. 18,  Songs of Experience, continued (69-72).

Week 3. Sept. 23. From BurkeA Philosophical Inquiry into .. the Sublime and the Beautiful (365-70); KantObservations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime(370-72).

Sept. 25. William Wordsworth, from Lyrical Ballads: “The Thorn,” “Expostulation and Reply,” The Tables Turned” (216-221). Preface to Lyrical Ballads (223)

Week 4. Sept. 30: Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey….”(221-23) ‘There was a boy’ (231).

Oct. 2 “Michael” (234),  “Resolution and Independence” (241), “Ode [Intimations of Immortality]” (249) Quiz Wed.

Week 6. Oct. 7“The Solitary Reaper”(244-45) “Elegiac Stanzas” (248) First deadline for 800-word paper.

Oct. 9: Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “The Eolian Harp” (409), “Frost at Midnight” (412), “Kubla Khan” (438). Second deadline for 800-word paper.  No extensions will be granted on this assignment.

Week 7. Oct. 14. Thanksgiving holiday.

Oct. 16 The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1817). (415)

Week 8. Oct. 21: Jane Austen Emma.

Oct. 23 Emma.

Week 9. Oct. 28 Emma

Oct. 30 Emma. Quiz Wed.

Week 10. Nov. 4 George Gordon, Lord Byron.  “Prometheus” (639), “So, we’ll go no more a roving” (640).

Nov. 6 Percy Bysshe Shelley “Mont Blanc” (732), “Song to the Men of England” (759), “Ozymandias” (735), from “A Defence of Poetry” (760).
Week 11. Nov. 11“Ode to the West Wind” (736).

Nov. 13 John Keats “The Eve of St. Agnes” (818), “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” (824), “Ode to Psyche” (826).

Week 12. Nov. 18 “Ode to a Nightingale” (827).

Nov. 20 “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (828), “To Autumn” (831).

Week 12. Nov. 25 Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater (Faflak edn pp. 49-131)

 Nov. 27 Confessions of an English Opium Eater, continued.  Quiz Wed.

 Week 13. Dec. 2 Felicia Hemans “The Homes of England” (786), “Casabianca” (788), “The Image in Lava” (791)

Dec. 4 “Properzia Rossi” (792).

1500-word paper due Dec. 4.




Week 1. Jan 6, J. S. Mill. “What is Poetry” (Broadview vol. 5, 77) T. B. Macaulay, from “Milton” (photocopy),  
Jan 8 
Tennyson, “The Lady of Shalott” (179)   R. Browning “Porphyria’s Lover” (303). My Last Duchess” (305)

Week 2. Jan 13. R. Browning, “The Bishop orders his tomb. . .” (307)

Jan 15. “Meeting at Night” (308), “Parting at Morning” (309), “Love among the Ruins” (311),“Fra Lippo Lippi” (315), “Andrea del Sarto” (322).

Week 3. Jan. 20 “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” (312).

Jan 22. Tennyson, “Mariana” (173), “Ulysses” (184). “The Epic” (185), “Morte d’Arthur” (185) Quiz Wed. Jan 22

Week 4. Jan 27-29:  E. Bronte, Wuthering Heights.

Week 5:   Feb. 3-5 Wuthering Heights. FEB. 5, SPECIAL CLASS LED BY MADISON BETTLE.

Week 6. Feb. 10 E. Barrett Browning, “A Curse for a Nation” (168), “A Musical Instrument” (169).   
Feb. 12 
Sonnets from the Portuguese (photocopy). 800 word paper due Wed. Feb 12.

Week 7. Conference week—no class.

Week 8 Feb 24 C. Darwin, selections from On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man (263-79) 

Feb 26 Tennyson, From In Memoriam A. H. H. (197): Prologue, Sects 1-3, 6-11, 14, 33, 50-56, 93-96, 101, 121, 123, Epilogue lines 109-144. Quiz Wed. Feb 26

Week 9. Mar. 3, J. Ruskin, from “The Nature of Gothic” (443).

Mar 5,  M. Arnold, “The Buried Life” (456), “Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse” (462), “Dover Beach” (465), selections from “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time” (478), selections from Culture and Anarchy (487).

Week 10. Mar. 10, D. G. Rossetti “The Blessed Damozel” (516),  “My Sister’s Sleep” (515).

Mar. 12, C. Rossetti, “After Death” (555), “Song ‘When I am dead my dearest’ (557), “In an Artist’s Studio” (562) Morris, “The Defense of Guinevere” (572), “The Haystack in the Floods” (577), A. Swinburne, “The Triumph of Time” (615).

Week 11. Mar. 17 Thomas Hardy,  Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Mar. 19 Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Week 12. Mar. 24, Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Mar. 26, Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Week 13: Mar. 31 W. Pater, From The Renaissance (633-38).

Apr. 2 W. Wilde The Importance of Being Earnest (698-729) Quiz Wed. Apr. 2

Week 14: Apr. 7 Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Conclusions.   2500 word paper due. Apr. 7.



–Complete the reading assignments by the dates specified.  Come to class prepared to ask and answer questions about the assigned readings. In every Wednesday’s class students will be randomly selected to present oral answers to a question on the reading.  The question to be asked each Wednesday will be announced the previous class and will be posted on the course website. Your attendance and oral participation in class meetings will determine 5% of your final grade in the course.

–There will be four papers. In each term you will turn in an 800-word paper on an assigned topic.  (The two shorter papers together will be worth 15% of your final grade)

–At the end of the first term you will turn in a 1500 word interpretative essay on a topic of your choice, due December 4. (15% final grade)

–At the end of second term you will turn in a 2500 word interpretative essay on a topic of your choice.  In writing this paper, you will be required to refer to some of the relevant critical literature. (25% final grade)

–There will be six short in-class quizzes during the year.   If you are unavoidably constrained to miss one, please speak to Prof. Rowlinson in advance about an adjustment to your grade, which will otherwise be 0.  There will be no make-up quizzes.  (5 % final grade)

–Finally, there will be a final exam.  You will be allowed to use the course textbooks and notes from the course in writing this exam.  (35% final grade). STUDENTS MUST PASS BOTH TERM WORK AND THE FINAL EXAMINATION IN ORDER TO PASS THE COURSE.  STUDENTS WHO FAIL THE FINAL EXAMINATION (REGARDLESS OF THEIR TERM MARK) AUTOMATICALLY FAIL THE COURSE.

–If you wish academic accommodation on medical grounds for any missed assignment worth more than 10% of your final grade, you must apply to the Academic Counselling office, where you will be asked to provide documentation.

Papers:  Please submit your papers double-spaced, in a10 or 12-point font, on 8.5 x 11” paper.  Use 1” margins.  You should use the citation format of either the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or the Chicago Manual of Style.  These manuals are available on the reference shelves of Weldon library; if you are unfamiliar with the protocols of scholarly citation, please ask for assistance.

The first paper of Fall term must be turned in at the start of class on either October 7 or October 9.  No extensions will be granted on this paper.  Other papers should be submitted in class on the due date or at the English department drop-box outside U.C. 173.  Extensions on papers should be arranged in advance of the due date; if you anticipate that you will need an extension, please speak to the instructor in person as early as possible. Requests for extensions made by e-mail will not be granted except in exceptional circumstances.  In the absence of an extension, late papers will be penalized.

Papers will be assigned marks by a consensus of the instructors.  Any request for a mark to be reviewed must be made to Prof. Rowlinson.

Plagiarism:  Write your assignments using your own ideas expressed in your own words. Whenever you take an idea or a passage of text from another author, be sure to acknowledge the debt both by using quotation marks where appropriate and by proper citations.  For the English department’s policies on plagiarism, please see the “Information for Students” page on the department website.

Requests for relief:  Students seeking academic accommodation on medical grounds for any missed tests, exams, participation components and/or assignments worth (either alone or in combination) 10% or more of their final grade must apply to the Academic Counselling office of their home Faculty and provide documentation. Academic accommodation cannot be granted by the instructor or department.

Documentation shall be submitted, as soon as possible, to the Office of the Dean of the student’s Faculty of registration, together with a request for relief specifying the nature of the accommodation being requested. The necessary form and further information regarding this policy can be found at the Student Services website. The full policy is set out here.

Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to MentalHealth@Western: for a complete list of options about how to obtain help.

Prerequisites: English 1020E, 1022E, or 1024E.  Students who do not have the prerequisites for this course will be removed.  There will be no appeal from this decision.  You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


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