British Romanticism and India
English 457H, Winter 2006
M 3:00-5:00, North Building 266

Professor: Dan White
Office: 296A NB, x. 8-5291
Office Hours: Monday 1:00-2:00, Wednesday 4:00-5:00

Course Focus: During the Romantic period (roughly 1780-1830), both British literature and the early British Empire underwent radical transformations. In this seminar we will build upon the premise that these two areas were not separate: literature was in fact an important part of the way in which Britons understood the nature of their developing empire, and the early empire in turn profoundly informed the subjects and forms of literary expression in Britain. We will focus on India, and our studies will range across poetry, fiction, drama, travel literature, historical and religious writing, and painting. Along with works by Britons, we will also turn our attention to the English writings of two Romantic-era Indians, one a Muslim (Mirza Abu Talib Khan) who wrote about his travels in England, the other a Hindu (Rammohun Roy), a religious reformer and prolific writer who engaged in highly public debates with the Baptist missionaries of Bengal.

Requirements and Grading: Your grade for the term will be divided as follows: one (pop) quiz (10%), one comparative analysis (3 pp., 15%), one term test (20%), one term paper (10 pp., 35%), participation (20%). Please submit your papers titled, double-spaced, paginated, and stapled. Late work will be penalized 3% for each day late, and extensions will only be granted in cases of illness or emergency. Before writing your papers, please consult "Papers: Expectations, Guidelines, Advice, and Grading."

Texts: The following texts have been ordered and are required for this course:

I have also prepared a coursepack, which will be available for purchase in class on January 23rd. Readings from the coursepack are labeled “[CP]” in the following schedule.

Week 1, January 9


James Rennell, “A General View of the principal Roads and Divisions of Hindoostan. 1788,” from Memoir of a Map of Hindoostan

Week 2, January 16

William Jones, “A Discourse on the Institution of a Society, for Inquiring into the History, Civil and Natural, the Antiquities, Arts, Sciences, and Literature, of Asia,” “The Second Anniversary Discourse, Delivered 24th February, 1785,” and “The Preface” to Institutes of Hindu Law; or the Ordinances of Menu (1794) [handout]

Thomas Macaulay, Minute on Indian Education [handout]

Week 3, January 23

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Khan: or, A Vision in a Dream” [handout]

Jones, “A Hymn to Narayena” [handout]

Week 4, January 30

Eliza Fay, from Original Letters from India [CP]

Thomas and William Daniell, aquatints from Oriental Scenery and A Picturesque Voyage to India by the Way of China

Week 5, February 6

Phebe Gibbes, from Hartly House, Calcutta [CP]

Week 6, February 13

Mariana Starke, The Sword of Peace; or, a Voyage of Love

Week 7, February 20 (Reading Week)

Week 8, February 27

Elizabeth Hamilton, Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah

Week 9, March 6

Mirza Abu Talib Khan, from Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan [CP]

Week 10, March 13

Robert Southey, The Curse of Kehama [CP]

Week 11, March 20

Sydney Owenson, The Missionary

Week 12, March 27

P.B. Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

Week 13, April 3

Rammohun Roy, selections [handout]

James Mill, from The History of British India [handout]

Week 14, April 10


Term paper (10 pp.) due, Monday, April 17, 12:00 p.m.

Daniel E. White