MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND LANGUAGE ARTS
|Course No. and Title:
||ENGL 712: The Shelley-Godwin Circle
||L. Adam Mekler, Ph. D.
||Holmes Hall 228
||Communications Center 117
||MWF10-10:50, T 11-1:50, and by appointment
This course will provide in-depth examination of the writings of
some of the most important writers of the second generation of
British Romantics, centering specifically on the circle formed by
Mary Godwin Shelley, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron, but also
briefly examining the influence of Mary Wollstonecraft and William
Godwin on the Shelleys in particular.
This course will emphasize the importance of critical and
analytical skills in examining Romantic-era literature within its
historical, interpersonal, and literary contexts. Students
will be expected to utilize their own interpretive abilities in
addition to demonstrating the capacity to engage in research of
secondary source criticism to inform their in-class discussion and
presentations as well as the written requirements for the course.
Teaching Methods and Activities:
Students will be expected to do the following:
Course Requirements and Student Evaluation:
- evaluate the works we read in terms of the French
Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and the Greek War for
Independence and the legal, political, and social
responses in England and abroad, including the abolition and
- examine the complex relationships among the main figures
under consideration as well as such ancillary figures as John
Polidori, Claire Clairmont, and Leigh Hunt;
- analyze the literary context within which these texts were
produced, especially in terms of the intellectual influence of
Wollstonecraft and Godwin (in addition to other important
figures such as Wordsworth and Coleridge) on the younger writers
and the influence of the writers on each other;
- consider the different theories of the mind, political
philosophies, and educational beliefs discussed and exemplified
in these works;
- investigate the ways in which different modern schools of
criticism—psychoanalytic, feminist, Marxist, and
poststructalist, for example—have been used to inform the study
of these works;
- demonstrate their proficiency in these areas through
thoughtful classroom discussion, presentations, and written
- Students will be expected to complete all assigned readings
for each session before coming to class and arrive prepared to
- Written assignments will include weekly brief response papers
(300-500 words) on the texts assigned for the course, one
slighty longer critical response paper (1300-word min.), and one
fully-documented critical research paper (6000-word minimum).
- The critical response paper and research paper must be on
two separate subjects.
- Written assignments are due at the beginning of class
on the due date. Late papers will be penalized
- Students will also give a brief (15-20 minutes) oral
presentation on one of the assigned readings.
- The brief presentation will be selected from a list
generated by the instructor. A written version of the
presentation will be submitted at the time of the
presentation. Although no secondary source material is
required for this assignment, ALL sources must be CLEARLY
cited in the written version of the presentation. Oral
citation of sources will be insufficient and may lead to
serious consequences (Please familiarize yourself with the
Graduate School's guidelines on academic dishonesty, which can
be found in the most recent catalog).
- Students will also experience a final, essay examination on
the materials covered in the course.
|Weekly Response Papers:
|Critical Response Paper
|Critical Research Paper:
- Byron, George Gordon. Poetry and Prose. Ed. Alice
Levine. NY: Norton, 2010.
- Godwin, William. Caleb Williams. Ed. Gary Handwerk
and A.A. Markley. Ontario: Broadview, 2000.
- ---. St. Leon: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century. Ed.
William Brewer. Ontario: Broadview, 2006.
- Polidori, John. The Vampyre and Ernestus Berchtold; or,
The Modern Oedipus. Ed. D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen
Scherf. Ontario: Broadview, 2007.
- Shelley, Mary. The
Original Frankenstein. Ed. Charles Robinson. NY:
Random House, 2009.
- ---. Valperga. Ontario: Broadview, 1998.
- Shelley, Percy. Shelley’s Poetry and Prose. Ed.
Donald Reiman and Neil Freistat. 2nd Ed. NY: Norton, 2002.
- (sl): St. Leon: A Tale of the Sixteenth
- (cw): Caleb
Williams; or, Things as They Are
- (bpp): Byron's
Poetry and Prose
- (spp): Shelley’s Poetry and Prose
- (veb): The Vampyre and Ernestus Berchtold
- (of): The Original Frankenstein
- : On-line source
||William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (cw): 483-98
Things As They Are, or Caleb Williams
Recommended: Collings, “The Romance of the Impossible,” esp.
|Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (sl):
St. Leon: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century
Recommended: Collings, “The Romance of the Impossible” esp.
||Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Cantos
Recommended: Elledge, “Chasms in Connections”
Deadline to Select Topic for Brief Oral Presentation
Queen Mab (spp):
Alastor (spp): 71-90
“On Love” (spp): 503-4
“Mont Blanc” (spp): 96-101
Recommended: Ferber, “Alastor”
|Lord Byron, “A Fragment” (“Augustus Darvell”) (vep): 231-36
PBS, Ghost Story fragments (vep): 236-40
John Polidori, The Vampyre (vep): 37-59
Ernestus Berchtold (vep):
Diary of Dr. John William Polidori
Recommended: Bainbridge, “Lord Ruthven's Power”
|Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (of): 16-443
Recommended: Robinson, Introduction to Frankenstein Notebooks
||Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto 3 (bpp): 196-229
Recommended: Manning, “The Sublime Self” (bpp): 898-919
Critical Response Paper Due
“To Constantia” (spp): 107-9
“Lines Written Among the Euganean Hills” (spp):
“Julian & Maddalo” (spp): 119-35
“The Sensitive Plant” (spp):
“Ode to the West Wind” (spp): 297-301
Recommended: Everest, “Shelley's Doubles” (spp):
||Lord Byron, “Prometheus” (bpp): 239-41
Percy Shelley, Prometheus Unbound (spp):
Recommended: Webb, “The Unascended Heaven” (spp): 694-711
Deadline for Research Paper Abstracts
|Lord Byron, Don Juan, 1-5 (bpp): 375-553
Recommended: Graham, “Nothing so Difficult” (bpp): 943-55
|Don Juan, 9-17, passim
Recommended: Wolfson, “Their She-Condition” (bpp): 955-72
||Mary Shelley, Valperga
Recommended: Maunu, “Connecting Threads”
|Mary Shelley, Matilda (handout)
“The Mortal Immortal”
Byron, The Deformed
Recommended: Cantor, “Mary Shelley and the Taming of the
Byronic Hero” (handout)
- Bennett, Betty, and Stuart Curran, eds. Mary Shelley in
Her Times. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2000.
- Bieri, James. Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Biography.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2008.
- Blank, G. Kim. Wordsworth's Influence on Shelley: A Study
of Poetic Authority. NY: St. Martin's, 1988.
- Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of
Poetry. NY: Oxford UP, 1973.
- Blumberg, Jane. Mary Shelley’s Early Novels: ‘This Child
of Imagination and Misery.’ Iowa City: U Iowa P, 1993.
- Brewer, William. The
Shelley-Byron Conversation. Gainsville: U FL P, 1994.
- Buss, Helen, D. L. MacDonald, and Anne McWhir,
eds. Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley:
Writing Lives. Ontario: Wilfred Laurier UP, 2001.
- Carlson, Julie. England's First Family of Writers: Mary
Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Mary Shelley. Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins, 2007.
- Clark, Timothy. Embodying Revolution: The Figure of
the Poet in Shelley. NY: Oxford, 1989.
- Clemit, Pamela. The Godwinian Novel: The Rational
Fictions of Godwin, Brockden Brown, Mary Shelley.
NY: Oxford UP, 1993.
- Conger, Syndy M., Frederick S. Frank, and Gregory
O’Dea, eds. Iconoclastic Departures: Mary Shelley after Frankenstein.
Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1997.
- Eberle-Sinatra, Michael. Mary Shelley’s Fictions:
From Frankenstein to Falkner. NY: St. Martin’s,
- Eisler, Benita. Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame.
NY: Vintage, 2000.
- Fisch, Audrey, Anne K. Mellor, & Esther H. Schor, eds. The
Other Mary Shelley: Beyond Frankenstein. NY: Oxford,
- Gelpi, Barbara. Shelley's Goddess: Maternity, Language,
and Subjectivity. NY: Oxford UP, 1992.
- Gilmour, Ian. The Making of the Poets: Byron and
Shelley in Their Time. NY: Carroll & Graf, 2004.
- Gittings, Robert and Jo Manton. Claire Clairmont and the
Shelleys, 1798-1879. NY: Oxford, 1995.
- Graham, Kenneth. The Politics of Narrative: Ideology and
Social Change in William Godwin's Caleb Williams. NY: AMS
- Hill-Miller, Katherine. “My Hideous Progeny”: Mary
Shelley, William Godwin, and the Father-Daughter Relationship.
Newark, DE: U Delaware P, 1995.
- Hogle, Jerrold. Shelley’s Process: Radical Transference
and the Development of His Major Works. NY: Oxford UP,
- Holmes, Richard. Shelley: The Pursuit. NY: NY
Review of Books, 2003.
- Jacobs, Diane. Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary
Wollstonecraft. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
- Kilgour, Maggie. The Rise of the Gothic Novel. NY:
- MacCarthy, Fiona. Byron: Life and Legend. NY:
Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002.
- MacDonald, D. L. Poor Polidori: A Critical Biography of
the Author of The Vampyre. Toronto: U Toronto P, 1991.
- McGann, Jerome. Byron and Romanticism. NY: Cambridge
- Mekler, L. Adam, and Lucy
Morrison, eds. Mary
Shelley: Her Circle and Her Contemporaries Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars
- Mellor, Anne. Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction,
Her Monsters. NY: Routledge, 1989.
- Robinson, Charles. Shelley
and Byron: The Snake and Eagle Wreathed in Fight.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1976.
Miranda. Mary Shelley. London: Grove, 2002.
- St. Clair, William. The Godwins and the Shelleys: The
Biography of a Family. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1991.
- Stabler, Jane. Byron, Poetics and History. NY:
Cambridge UP, 2003.
- Sunstein, Emily. Mary Shelley: Romance and
Reality. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1991.
- Todd, Janet. Death and The Maidens: Fanny Wollstonecraft
and the Shelley Circle. Berkley: Counterpoint, 2007.
- ---. Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life.
NY: Columbia UP, 2000.