ENGL 367: The Byron-Shelley Circle
Course Convenor: Prof Simon Bainbridge
Seminar Time and Venue: Thursday 9am – 11am, Bowland North SR21 (Term 2)
Course Aims and Objectives:
This course examines the work of three of the great writers of the Romantic period, the poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, and the novelist Mary Shelley. Famously, these three writers lived and worked together during the summer of 1816, an episode that produced two of the dominant myths of modern literature – Frankenstein (in Mary Shelley’s novel) and the Vampire (in a story based on Byron by another member of the group, John Polidori) – both of which we will examine. Throughout their careers these writers were engaged in a creative and critical conversation with each other that addressed major themes including: conceptions of the heroic; the possibilities of political change; literary, scientific and biological creation; the East; transgressive love; gender roles; and the Gothic. This course will provide an opportunity to study in detail these writers’ works and to consider them within their historical, cultural and intellectual contexts.
1 x 1,500-word close reading exercise (20%); 1 x 4,000-word essay (80%).
Close reading exercise by 12 noon, Monday Week 7, Term 2.
Essay by 12 noon, Monday Week 1, Term 3.
1 two-hour seminar per week (with the exception of Independent Study Week).
On successful completion of this course students will have:
- acquired an understanding of the writings of members of the Byron-Shelley circle and of the relations between these writings
- identified key themes in the writings of the Byron-Shelley circle and explored different treatments of them
- investigated the uses of literary forms in the writings of the Byron-Shelley circle
- related the literature to historical, cultural, and literary contexts
- gained a sense of the nature of the contemporary critique of the members and writings of the Byron-Shelley circle
- considered a range of critical and theoretical approaches to the texts
- developed skills of close reading and analysis
- developed communication and writings skills through seminar participation and completion of assessments
Byron, the Major Works, ed. Jerome J. McGann (Oxford U.P., 2008)
Shelley’s Poetry and Prose, ed. Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat (Norton, 2002)
Frankenstein, ed. Maurice Hindle (Penguin, 1992)
The Last Man, ed. Morton D. Paley (Oxford World’s Classics, 1994)
The Byronic Hero, Orientalism and Gender I:
Byron, The Giaour
The Byronic Hero, Orientalism and Gender II:
Byron, Don Juan, cantos V & VI
Percy Shelley: Selected Poems:
‘Mont Blanc’, ‘Hymn to Intellectual Beauty’, ‘Ozymandias’, ‘Ode to the West Wind’, ‘To a Sky-Lark’, ‘The Mask of Anarchy’, ‘Sonnet: England in 1819
The Romantic Prometheus I:
Byron, ‘Prometheus’; Percy Shelley, Prometheus Unbound
Independent Study Week
1,500 word close reading exercise (to be submitted 12pm, Monday Week 7)
The Romantic Prometheus II:
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus
Byron, Beppo; Percy Shelley, ‘Lines Written among the Euganean Hills’
The Last Man
The Contemporary Critique of Romanticism:
Percy Shelley, Julian and Maddalo; John Polidori, ‘The Vampyre’.
Back to: ENGL 365
Forward to: ENGL 369