English 509
Topics for Classroom Discussion and Student Presentations

The following is a list of guiding questions for the semester. As you complete the readings for each week, consider the text(s) in terms of these questions, as appropriate.

Students are expected to give a brief (30-minute) oral presentation on one of the assigned readings for the semester, during which they will examine particular aspects of the text in order to provide a deeper appreciation of the text's meaning.

Possible topics (please feel free to develop a topic of your own): 

Potential Topics:
25 Dorothy WW, Journals and Poems: 592-611
William WW:
"Nutting": 450-52 and Handout
"London, 1802": 476-77
"Resolution and Independence": 545-49
"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud": 551
"My Heart Leaps Up": 552
"Ode: Intimations of Immortality": 552-58
Recommended: Soderholm, "Dorothy Wordsworth's Return"
Recommended: Jones, "Rude Intercourse"
  • Treatment of Nature
  • Private vs. Public
  • WW's Theory of Poetry Exemplified
  • Relationship(s) Between WW and DW
Oct 2
"Frost at Midnight": 563-64
"Christabel": 585-601
"Kubla Khan": 602-604
"Pains of Sleep": 606-7
"Dejection: An Ode": 607-11
Recommended: Lawder, "Secret(ing) Conversations"
Critical Response Paper Due
  • Characteristics of the Conversation Poem
  • Treatment of the Gothic
  • Treatment of Childhood (perhaps compared to WW)
  • (Auto)Biographical Considerations
  • Figure of the Poet
  • The Fragment Poem

9 Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Recommended: Duckworth, "Reconstitution of Society": 306-15
Recommended: Johnson, "Pursuit of Happiness": 348-55
Deadline for Submission of Research Paper Abstracts
  • Class and Gender
  • Female Relationships
  • Education
  • Use of Irony
  • Sexuality

Byron: 708-10
Manfred: 711-47
The Byronic Hero, 747-53
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: 765-79
Recommended: Cantor, "The Politics of the Epic"
  • Portrayal of Time/History/Chronology
  • Narrator vs. Poet
  • The Byronic Hero
  • Role of Spirits in Manfred
  • Bounds of Knowledge
  • Power of Speech/Language

23 Byron, from Don Juan: 781-862 and
Recommended: LaChance, "Don Juan"
  • Dedication: Connection to Other Poets
  • Don Juan and the Epic Tradition
  • Morality and Custom
  • Orientalism
  • Narrator vs. Poet (Personas)

Percy Shelley: 868-70
"To Wordsworth": 870-71
"Mont Blanc": 871-75 
"Sonnet: England in 1819": 878
"Mask of Anarchy": 879-88
Defence of Poetry: 920-30
Recommended: Carothers, "Alastor"
  • Anxiety of Influence
  • Perceptions and Realities
  • Political Commentary
  • Theory of Poetry Exemplified (perhaps compared to WW)
  • Role of Solitude
  • Portrayal of the Feminine
PBS, "Ode to the West Wind": 794-96
"To a Skylark": 796-98
Adonais: 799-814
Prometheus Unbound
Recommended: Jost, "Anatomy of an Ode"
  • Figure of the Poet
  • Inspiration and Anxiety
  • Forms of Elegy
  • Use of Classical Themes

13 Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Recommended: Mellor, "Possessing Nature": 355-68
Recommended: Lipking, "Frankenstein, the True Story": 416-34
  • Connections b/w Frankenstein and Paradise Lost
  • Bounds of Knowledge
  • Power of Speech/Language
  • Function of Solitude
  • Position / Role of women
  • Reading

20 Keats: 973-75
"La Belle Dame Sans Merci": 1001-2 (see also Letter to Benjamin Bailey: 1052)
Odes: 1003-14 (see also Letters to George & Thomas Keats, 1046-47, and to George & Georgiana Keats, 1056-57)
Fall of Hyperion, 1031-44 (see also Letter to Josh Reynolds: 1049-51)
Recommended: Kelley, "La Belle Dame"
  • Portrayal of the Feminine
  • Use of Classical Themes
  • The Ode form
  • Intimations of Immortality

27 Hemans: 930-32
"Casabianca": 939-40
Records of Woman: 940-54
Responses: 957-61
Recommended: Lootens, "Hemans and Home"
  • Domesticity and the Portrayal of the Feminine
  • Submission vs. Subversion
  • Patriotism and/or Sentimentality
Popular Prose: 1086-87
Lamb: 1087-1098
Hazlitt: 1098-14
De Quincey: 1114-42
Recommended: Fang, "Empire, Coleridge, and Lamb"
  • Portrayal of Class/Poverty
  • Identity: Charles and Mary in "Old China"
  • Orientalism and De Quincey's Confessions
  • Theories of Literature