Public Romanticisms / Romantic Publics
ENG 4213F, Fall 2003
Wednesday 2:00-4:00, Room 2001, 7 King’s College Circle

Professor: Dan White
Office: UTM 296A NB, 905-828-5291 / St. George 2215 7 KCC
Office Hours: UTM, Monday 4:00-5:00; St. George, Wednesday 4:00-5:00

Course Focus: This course will simultaneously consider the public nature of Romantic period writing and examine the particular publics according to which authors and readers conceived of themselves as citizens of the late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century “Republic of Letters.” By applying theories of publicity founded on the writings of Jürgen Habermas, we will participate in the ongoing attempt to revise our assumptions concerning “high Romantic” interiority, alienation, and transcendence by moving beyond the period’s own powerful ideologies of poetic creativity. Questions of publicity, sociability, cosmopolitanism, and theatricality have now become central to Romantic studies. In order to pose and respond to such questions, we will interpret a wide range of print materials, including canonical and noncanonical poetry, fiction, critical and philosophical prose, and drama in addition to political and religious pamphlets, periodical reviews, newspapers, engravings and accounts of political meetings, &c.

Method of Evaluation: Class participation (15%), two in-class research presentations (15%), abstract (5%, 500 words), conference presentation (15%, 20 minutes followed by q & a), research paper (50%, 20 pp.).

Texts: Along with the primary-source coursepack (readings marked “CP” below), the following texts are available for purchase at the Campus Book Store.

Most secondary readings (bulleted below) will be in the secondary-source coursepack, also for sale at the Campus Book Store (some secondary readings will be handed out in class). Whenever possible, I have placed the books from which these readings come on reserve at Short Term Loan at Robarts.

Wednesday, September 10

Course Introduction

Toasts, printed on the back of a London Corresponding Society pamphlet, At a General Meeting of the London Corresponding Society, Held at the Globe Tavern Strand: On Monday the 20th Day of January, 1794 (1794) [Handout]

James Gillray, “Copenhagen House” (1795) and “London Corresponding Society, alarm’d” (1798) [Handout]

Isaac Cruikshank, “Debating Society” (1795) [Handout]

Thomas Rowlandson, “Surrey Institution” (1809) [Handout]

Wednesday, September 17

Richard Price, A Discourse on the Love of our Country, Delivered on Nov. 4, 1789, at the Meeting-House in the Old Jewry, to the Society for Commemorating the Revolution in Great Britain (1789) [CP]

Edmund Burke, from Reflections on the Revolution in France, and on the Proceedings in Certain Societies in London Relative to that Event: in a Letter Intended to have been Sent to a Gentleman in Paris (1790), pp. 3-99

Anna Barbauld, Sins of Government, Sins of the Nation; or, a Discourse for the Fast, Appointed on April 19, 1793 (1793)

  • Jürgen Habermas, “Introduction: Preliminary Demarcation of a Type of Bourgeois Public Sphere” and “Social Structures of the Public Sphere,” from The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere
  • E.P. Thompson, “Eighteenth-Century English Society: Class Struggle without Class?”

Wednesday, September 24

Francis Place, from The Autobiography of Francis Place (1793-99) [CP]

John Thelwall, “The Speech of John Thelwall, at the General Meeting of the Friends of Parliamentary Reform, Called by the London Corresponding Society, and Held in the Neighbourhood of Copenhagen-House; On Monday, October 26, 1795” (1795) [CP]

  • Terry Eagleton, from The Function of Criticism: From The Spectator to Post-Structuralism
  • Paul Magnuson, “Introduction” and “The Corresponding Society: The Public Discourse,” from Reading Public Romanticism
  • Kevin Gilmartin, “Introduction: Locating a Plebeian Counterpublic Sphere,” from Print Politics: The Press and Radical Opposition in Early Nineteenth-Century England

Wednesday, October 1

William Godwin, Things as They Are; or, the Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794), from Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and Its Influence on General Virtue and Happiness (1793, 1796), and “Of History and Romance” (1797)

Reviews from the Critical, the British, the Monthly, and the Analytical (1794-95)

  • Marilyn Butler, “Culture’s Medium: The Role of the Review,” in The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism
  • Paul Keen, “The Republic of Letters,” from The Crisis of Literature in the 1790s: Print Culture and the Public Sphere

Wednesday, October 8

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Conciones ad Populum. Or Addresses to the People (1795) and the Conversation Poems: “The Eolian Harp” (1796), “Reflections on Having Left a Place of Retirement” (1796), “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison” (1797), “Frost at Midnight” (1798), “Fears in Solitude” (1798), “The Nightingale” (1798), “Dejection: An Ode” (1802), “To William Wordsworth” (1807)

Robert Southey, “The Botany-bay Eclogues,” from Poems (1797) [CP] 

  • Lewis Patton and Peter Mann, “Introduction,” from Lectures 1795: On Politics and Religion, vol. 1 of The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Nicholas Roe, “‘A Light Bequeathed’: Coleridge, Thelwall, Wordsworth, Godwin,” from Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years

Wednesday, October 15

William Wordsworth and S.T. Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (1798, 1800)

Francis Jeffrey, review of Wordsworth’s Poems, in Two Volumes (1807), from The Edinburgh Review (1807) [CP] 

  • Jerome McGann, “Introduction,” “Distinguishing Romanticism,” and “Some Current Problems in Literary Criticism,” from The Romantic Ideology
  • Jon Klancher, “Introduction: Historical Audiences and Social Theory,” “Cultural Conflict, Ideology, and the Reading Habit in the 1790s,” and “Romantic Theory and English Reading Audiences,” from The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790-1832

Wednesday, October 22

Joanna Baillie, “Introductory Discourse” and De Monfort: A Tragedy, from A Series of Plays: In Which It Is Attempted to Delineate the Stronger Passions of the Mind. Each Passion Being the Subject of a Tragedy and a Comedy (1798)

  • Gillian Russell, “Theatre,” in An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age
  • Nancy Fraser, “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy,” in Habermas and the Public Sphere

Wednesday, October 29

Leigh Hunt, “Young Poets” and review of Keats’ Poems (1817), from The Examiner (1816-17) [CP]

John Keats, “Sleep and Poetry” (1817) and Endymion: A Poetic Romance (1818)

John Gibson Lockhart (“Z.”), “On the Cockney School of Poetry” I-IV, in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (1817-18) [CP] 

  • Jeffrey Cox, “Introduction: or, The visionary Company, Inc.,” “The Cockney School Attacks: or, the Antiromantic Ideology,” and “John Keats, Coterie Poet,” from Poetry and Politics in the Cockney School: Keats, Shelley, Hunt and their Circle
  • John Kandl, “Private Lyrics in the Public Sphere: Leigh Hunt’s Examiner and the Construction of a Public ‘John Keats’”

Wednesday, November 5

William Hazlitt, “What is the People?” (1817)

P.B. Shelley, The Cenci (1819) and A Defence of Poetry (1821)

  • Stuart Curran, “Shelley and the Romantic Theater,” from Shelley’s Cenci: Scorpions Ringed with Fire
  • Julie Carlson, “Conclusion. A Theatre of Remorse,” from In the Theater of Romanticism: Coleridge, Nationalism, Women

Wednesday, November 12

Byron, Don Juan (1819-24), “Dedication” and Cantos I-VIII

  • Paul Magnuson, “The Dedication of Don Juan,” from Reading Public Romanticism

Abstracts due (except for those who will present on Byron)

Wednesday, November 19

Byron, Don Juan (1819-24), Cantos IX-XVII

  • Jerome Christensen, “The Circumstantial Gravity of Don Juan,” from Lord Byron’s Strength: Romantic Writing and Commercial Society

Abstracts due (for those who will present on Byron)

Wednesday, November 26


Wednesday, December 3



Friday, December 12, Research Papers Due in English Office by Noon


Daniel E. White