Romantic Pastoral Revisited


Wednesday, 3 pm - 5 pm


K. Weisman

Course Description

Pastoral has long been a subject close to the centre of studies of British Romanticism. It has been absorbed into all of the major theoretical debates: from linguistic theories studying it as a forum for textual displacement, to historicist readings of pastoral that study its mediations of history and commodity culture, and more recently to eco-criticisms that read pastoral in terms of the economy of ecological and global considerations. Pastoral, and the georgic pastoral, have always been indispensable value terms in our understanding of the period. And yet pastoral, for all of its vital importance, is a term that still causes confusion, or that is sometimes used as a casual synonym for “landscape.” This course will study the old subject of Romantic pastoral anew. We will study its variable definitions, the lively debates, both historical and contemporary, surrounding it, and the many crucial points of contact it makes with key issues in Romantic poetry. These include its inextricable relationship with elegy and other genres, and the central place played by pastoral in Romantic political, philosophical and social culture.

Course Texts

Selections will include the following:

Theocritus (Idyll VIII, Idyll XX); Virgil (Eclogue IV, Eclogue VII); Milton, "Lycidas"; Thomas Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"
[Note: I will distribute handouts of the Theocritus and Virgil readings at the first class.]
William Wordsworth, "Michael." Also selections from Lyrical Ballads (including "Tintern Abbey," "The Solitary Reaper," "Lines Written in Early Spring," "We are Seven," The Last of the Flock," "Anecdote for Fathers," and other selections).
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonais, "Alastor; or, the Spirit of Solitude"; other lyrics (including "Ode to the West Wind," Hymn to Intellectual Beauty," "Mont Blanc," "The Mask of Anarchy," the last act of Prometheus Unbound); Wordsworth, The Prelude.
Coleridge, selected lyrics (including "This Lime-Tree Bower my Prison," "Frost at Midnight," "The Eolian Harp," "Dejection: an Ode")
Charlotte Smith, Beachy Head.
John Clare, "The Lament of Swordy Well," and selected lyrics; Clare, "Helpstone"; The Shepherd's Calendar.
Matthew Arnold, "Thyrsis"; "The Scholar Gypsy."

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements

  • Article review (orally delivered) 15%
  • Seminar presentation 25%
  • Class participation 15%
  • Final research paper 45%

Term: S-TERM (January 2023 to April 2023)
Date/Time: Wednesday / 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Location: Room JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)
Delivery: In-Person